Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for making my life meaningful. I lost my family at a young age, and didn’t have children, which are the normal ways people find meaning in their lives. The other way is to spend one’s energy to help others achieve a richer, fuller life. I have devoted my adult life teaching the healing arts Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Meditation, Yoga, Trager, Dependable Strengths, Arica, though Tai Chi remains my principle study and practice. Thank you so much for your support and love. Here are a few ideas about the relationship between teachers and students. If you can think of others, let me know and I’ll include more next time.
Advice for Teachers and Students of Tai Chi Chuan
1. The teacher is always looking for sincere students.
2. The student is always looking for a teacher who teaches from the heart.
3. It is the student who gives life to the teacher.
4. Talk is cheap. Work diligently and you will succeed.
5. You must learn what the teacher has to teach, incorporate it, then move ahead. Feel free to change what you have learned into what you know.
6. When you have found a teacher you can work with, devote yourself, and do whatever possible to help him or her to accomplish the task of teaching.
7. Because you might enjoy a special relationship with the teacher, do not take it upon yourself to teach others in the class unless encouraged by the teacher.
8. Do not ask the teacher questions which are really statements to show what you know.
9. Respect your teacher, obey the rules, live your life in truth and righteousness.
10. Do not compare your teacher to others. Do not put him or her on a pedestal. He might know more than you, but less than others. You are all on the same path. There is no end to the learning and understanding of Tai Chi Chuan.
11. The deepest learning comes from playing. Think about how animals learn the basics of survival, mostly through playing. Be light-hearted in your studies.
12. The teacher should seek out your strengths and encourage you to work in your special skill areas.
13. Do not take claims of skills and abilities at face value. Proof is needed for everything, except that which cannot be explained by logic and science.
14. If you are interested in teaching, let the instructor know. He should do whatever possible to help you accomplish your goals.
15. As John Kennedy said, Ask not what your instructor can do for you. Ask what you can do for your instructor.
16. Give the teacher room to grow and change. Tai Chi is about change. Do not get stuck in certain ways of always doing things or thinking. If your teacher doesn’t change through the years, be suspicious.
17. The student should ask how he or she can be of assistance to the teacher. Can you do computer/web design? T-shirt or advertising? Help to fill in the gaps we all have.
18. Trust. The good instructor would never do anything to hurt you. When asking you to help in demonstrating a technique, he won’t hurt you. Do not over react in order to make him look good. Be real and natural. If he hurts you leave. Yang Ban Hou killed his own daughter showing a spear technique. You do not want to die to help the instructor make a point.
19. Take responsibility for your own progress. Read all you can in order to get different perspectives. Your instructor does not know everything. Get what you can and move on when you have learned all you can from this person. This is your life, so don’t get stuck in the same place. Honor your teacher but keep your goals in mind.
20. Whatever you do, do not compare your teacher to others. Look at what each instructor has to offer. See what works for you, incorporate it. Also be sure not to contradict your instructor in front of others. Discuss possible differences in private, so as not to put your instructor on the spot.
21. Be careful not to challenge your instructor when he or she is demonstrating an application by doing something unexpected. The instructor will be forced to react in a way that might not be what you expect.
22. Do not talk behind your instructor’s back. It could get back to him or her and he will never trust you again.
23. Sifu means teacher and father. The relationship is one of parent and child. Treat the instructor as you would a parent and also expect him or her to treat you the same way.
24. Get with an instructor who is interested in and teaching the same aspects of Tai Chi that you are. Body, mind, and spirit are all incorporated in the Tai Chi study, but most instructors are more focused on one of these. Teachers teach what they have learned, what they have been through, so they will be more skilled in one area over others.
25. Is my teacher a Master? Does it matter. What is a Master? Am I willing to stick with my studies until I master this art?
26. The instructor should expose the students to other teachers and styles of teaching through visiting instructors, workshops, retreats and classes. The instructor should not be afraid to lose students who have other interests, so as not to lose the student as an income source. A Tai Chi teaching career should not be based on income. Does the instructor run the class as a business in such a way to exclude those who are interested but not financially able? Cost of classes does not always equal the quality of the class. We are so often told we get what we pay for, but not always.
27. Can you imagine doing this life differently? What would you change?
28. If, as an instructor you were told you had only one year to live, what would you do with your life? Still teach? How about five years? One month? How important is teaching to who you are as a person, and what you do with your life?