I’m teaching the ladies today and a thought entered my head – I gotta write this down before I forget it.
Background – I teach each student differently. In theory everyone learns the same Tai Chi. But how they learn it is a different story.
Some learn through the form and some learn through push hands depending on their learning ability. To me form learning is the best way because within a form you can pick up the following knowledge :-
2) Functional structures and movements
5) Mental simulation
Some students have a hard time learning the form because their ability to visualize is lacking whereas some can at least manage it. For these students using push hands to learn about the form is an alternative way to understand the form.
In reality both approaches complement each other. However, the form should be the proper way to approach push hands i.e. putting the horse before the cart and not put the cart before the horse.
Form training can impart the following benefits :-
1) True mindfulness – the word “mindfulness” seems to be the latest buzzword. However, true mindfulness is when your mind can remain focused when under pressure and not just when you are spaced out doing your own thing sans pressure
2) Letting the self, excess strength and meaningless resistance go – to find the true Tai Chi within us we have to learn to remove unnecessary mental and physical obstructions. Learning a form with active feedback by checking our posture, structure and mental state helps us to achieve this. This is where the role of a knowing teacher comes in to help you to see and feel it through your body
3) Cultivate postures and movements that bring health benefits; that also contribute to enhancing our ability to apply combat techniques properly and with power
Different teachers have different ways to teach the art. Some like to leave students to their own devices, some like to demonstrate, some like to explain and some use a combination of the latter two approaches. I believe that the best learning is achieved by the following :-
Each of the six complements the other. Sometimes the student can’t quite see what is happening so an explanation is in order. But at times the explanation is above the comprehension of the student so he then has to try doing it, feeling it and testing it to see how he is understanding the movement. The feedback can help him to move towards mastering the movement.
I’ve set up a MasterTaiChiToday workspace on Slack to record down the information, set up private channels so that students who have their training recorded can view their lessons and for the moment a general area for those who are interested to hang out and talk shop.