Slow and Steady Wins
I trained to be an actor, graduating from The University of Arizona with a degree in Theater Arts. I then worked a couple of years in television until the Viet Nam war was in full swing and I dropped out.
It wasn’t until I moved to Port Townsend in 1981 that I took up acting again, only now as a member of a group who called themselves The Children’s Workshop Theater. We put on plays for young people, with young people in the cast. It was great fun.
The first play I appeared in with this group was called “Don’t Count Your Chickens”, and was based on Aesop’s Fables, hence the name. One of the parts I played (we all had multiple roles) was the rabbit in The Tortoise and the Hare. You can probably now see why I called this article “Slow and Steady Wins”, because as most people hopefully remember, the tortoise wins the race because the much speedier rabbit keeps getting distracted, even taking a nap because he is so much faster and he can afford to just lay down for a while.
I once had a student who thought he was a very fast learner, always finishing the lesson before others, but to my eye, not doing the moves quite correctly. After a while, not having finished the Short Form yet, he informed me he was going to start teaching. I was aghast. Not only were the moves without proper inner direction, he had no idea of the history and philosophy of our art. I told him he wouldn’t have my blessing if he choose to teach at this point in this learning. He stopped coming to classes, and I don’t know what happened to him.
There are many students who, like me, fall in love with Tai Chi, and want to spend the rest of their lives involved with the study and teaching of our art. Most, I am happy to say, develop patience and the understanding that Tai Chi is much deeper than appears at first glance. All the instructors connected to the Gilman Studio have had many years of study, then assisting in classes, taking on more responsibility, until they and the staff feel they are ready. I still have a problem with schools who give Tai Chi teaching certification to a novice who comes for a one week-end workshop.
So, whether you are studying Tai Chi for personal health, a desire to teach, or just for the fun of it, take it slow and steady. Be sure to incorporate the instructor’s suggestions before moving on. Examine each part of each movement until you understand the purpose of why this movement was included in the form. Don’t teach others until the instructor gives you the OK. Be an example for those who follow. Don’t correct your fellow students unless the instructor asks you to. Don’t confront the instructor in front of the other students. Be humble. Smile.