First post here.
Does lineage and tradition have a value if the skills of the style failed to be passed on?
This is a question that came to mind after last night’s lesson with one student. He recognized that his shoulders were stiff and the after-effects of last week’s vigorous push hands training were still lingering on. He has improved from when he first started but the tension shifted to another part of the arm.
I had him go through part of the form. I could see where he was moving excessively, thus amplifying the tension.
Now the remedy to address this is by using the form to work through it by paying attention to the use of intention to move the body in a manner that will eliminate this unnecessary tension. However, he has a problem “seeing” it and this is not unusual because from experience I would say that most students would have a hard time trying to visualize the traditional process.
So does this mean that all is lost with this student?
No, of course not. I am all for tradition but only in that it serves its purpose of transmitting the art. Otherwise tradition is useless.
I reframed the learning process in terms that are easily understood using life experiences that most of us would have gone through some time. Using this modern analogy and acting as the sounding board I had him work through the steps.
When I had him try the traditional mental model his arm was still stiff when tested. But after using the modern model his arm had relaxed a lot more. It was still not quite the proverbial 4 ounces touch but it was a good start.
My student was thinking of using a wall to help him learn. I offered an alternative method because the wall is not able to offer feedback.
The point here is that the principle is the same but explaining it the traditional way may not work for many modern learners. In this sense tradition has little value. It is when the essence of the tradition, however it may be passed on works and enables the student to Master Tai Chi Today that the tradition proves its worth.
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