Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 358
Learning to Learn Sequence “Monkey See – Monkey Do”
Most of the people worldwide who learn Tai Chi do so by following someone who knows what they are doing. It is how I learned. I have evolved it a bit into a sequence that should help. For this sequence you need a partner. And don’t worry about Covid, as you will be at least two arms distance from the other person. Besides, it sure is fun to learn this way. It is best if at least one of the team knows what he or she is doing, but don’t let being a novice stop you. You can follow this whole sequence or do as little as one of them. Here goes.
1.Mirroring. The partners face each other far enough apart that, with arms stretching out in front, they won’t touch. One person leads by moving, slowly and steadily, one of their arms, say the right. The other person moves their left arm (like a mirror) in the same way. The leader should realize that he or she is trying to help the partner, so make the movements easy to follow. Slow and steady. Do this for a couple of minutes, then leader switches to the other arm, (would now be the left) and partner follows with the right. Then the leader uses both arms, partner follows. Next, switch off leader and do this same sequence.
2.Since most students learn by following from the rear, do this same sequence, but the leader has his or her back to the follower. The follower is slightly to one side or the other so there is a decent view of what the leader is doing. Do the same sequence. But use the same side as partner. If leader is using the right arm, follower uses right arm. Slow and steady.
3. Now the legs. Start with Bow and Sit stance with leader having one foot (say right) forward. Follower has the left. Follow with the same speed and intention. Then switch legs in a Tai Chi fashion (part of the learning process), then switch leader.
4. Next, do Empty stepping (Ding Bu) on heel and toe (continue to switch legs each step). If you feel balanced, you can stand on one leg (Golden Pheasant), kicks (snap, thrust, horizontal), Creeps Down, and whatever you can think of. Always slow and steady, always both sides, switch leader.
5. Lastly, the leader goes through as much of the Tai Chi form as he or she is comfortable with. It doesn’t matter exactly what you are doing. You are just learning to follow with full awareness. Follow from the rear view. Use the same arm or legs as the leader when following from the rear. Don’t think ahead. Just follow. Don’t worry about how or what the leader is doing. You are learning to follow.