Mastery Through Out-of-the-Box Approach 2

Continuing from the previous post here we now take a look at the second good point made by Adam Grant’s article below :-


If you have been researching the point that Malcolm Gladwell made about the 10,000 hours practice you would know that the researcher who originally arrived at this conclusion mentioned that this was conditional on correct practice. So Grant’s point is perfectly valid in this sense.

Here is the point I want to stress – all learners will make mistakes, lots and lots of it. You can’t avoid them so just embrace the mistakes and learn from them. The problem is of course many learners don’t learn from mistakes and continue to make them. For some learners they even insist that their mistakes is the correct way of doing Tai Chi. This begs the question of why they need a teacher in the first place if they are correct and the teacher is wrong to tell them otherwise.

Mistakes are part and parcel of mastering a process. You make a mistake, you get it corrected and you try again. Guess what, chances are you will make the same mistake again.

But if it gets hammered long enough into your head eventually you will begin to see the mistake as it is and you will begin to eradicate it and your improvement will start from this point.

Human beings love the comfort of consistency so change is frightening. This is why for some students particularly if they come from another Tai Chi style they will have a problem changing. For some reason they cannot let go of their old habits. They continue to hang on to it even if there is a better way. And sometimes they need to feel why their old ways should be let go off but they just cannot mentally let it go.

In some styles the way of practicing is always the same old, same old. In our style learning is never same old, same old. Once you reach a certain point you will be shown a different way of doing the same move. But again, many students continue to hang on to their old ways. This is not the way to Master Tai Chi Today.

Complexity can overwhelm the mind which is why the refinements are introduced when the time is right. A tipping point will eventually be reached when the increasing complexity becomes stark simplicity. At this point why the name Tai Chi is an appropriate one for this method will reveal itself.

Sometimes you can’t see the point right away and this is understandable because most of us can’t in the first place. Rare is the student who gets the point right off the bat. I have ever had only one student who can do this but I suspect this is because he is a creative person being an artist and a television script writer. For others this probably has something to do with standing too close to what we do.

So this is where the point Grant made about the breath of knowledge comes in. For some looking or examining other styles can help. Others like me will look into a wide range of subjects for example classical guitar. I have a student who likes to learn the use of locks; I guess this is an extended influence from his previous working experience as a prisons officer.

To teach the use of locks against an arm that is not moving is easy. But this does not always translate well into successful use during push hands. To teach the idea of developing a lock that is useful against a moving arm there are two ideas to consider.

The first idea is that of the arm as a sparrow’s tail. You can read more about this idea on page 62, TaijiKinesis Vol 2.

The second idea is the development of a mobile handcuff that is able to adhere, follow and adapt to the opponent’s moving arm. I explained to my student how I was influenced in this regard by the time I spent learning to play the classical guitar. The important points that I made to my student can be observed in this video of the great Andres Segovia below.

I didn’t make the connection between the technique of playing the classical guitar and Chin Na for a long time. It was only through a combination of familiarity, knowing my limitations and having the luck of learning the guitar that eventually led to me achieving this insight. Interestingly, this method of cuffing is also consistent with what the principles of the Tai Chi Classics say.

And of course, it started off with a question of how to do a lock better and faster. I guess this is where the curiosity part mentioned in the article comes in.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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