Tai Chi Education System
Learning Tai Chi is similar to moving through our educational system. Let me explain what I mean.
Pre School: A majority of new students come to Tai Chi with only the most rudimentary idea of what it is. They have heard about the many health benefits, and maybe talked to someone who has taken a class before, or possibly seen the lovely movements in some commercial for this or that product or service, but that’s usually it. They sign up for a class at their local gym or health club because it comes with the monthly fee.
Grammar School: The student starts to learn the basics of the movements – the language of Tai Chi. The stances are presented, and the form is started. The student is exploring Tai Chi to see if it appeals and it is something that might work for them. At this stage, most students don’t study on their own, read or practice. Just attend classes. They couldn’t tell the names of the moves or what they stand for.
High School: A surprising number of people stop after grammar school, not even making it to the next level. In Tai Chi education this means they don’t acquire the results they desired so they quit before getting into the essence of what Tai Chi really is. The ones that continue on, find areas of this vast study more interesting and challenging. They memorize the names, learn the applications, start to interact with the other students in partner work. Depending on how many classes per week are offered, the student might start practicing on their own. He or she will use the internet to explore further than just the instructor they are learning from. They complete the learning of at least one form.
College: The student has finished all the basics. He or she has a solid grounding in the language of Tai Chi and is attracted to one or more special areas of study, like applications, postures, push hands, weapons, and internal work. There are prerequisites to complete before graduation, but a “major” is chosen, and one’s internal focus gets narrower as the external exploration gets wider. More reading, more classes, more partner work. Standing meditation is deepened, and integrated into everyday practice.
Graduate School: At this point, most have finished their study. Tai Chi is integrated into life or discarded. For those who choose Tai Chi instruction as a career or life style, his or her intention is shared with the instructor who will then pay more special attention to the student, and encourage him or her into the areas that might need more support, or into areas of special strength where the student can really excel. The student is asked to help out more in classes as an assistant, and maybe even given beginning classes to teach on their own. The student seeks out other instructors, and attends seminars.
After Graduation: You’re on your own. Either Tai Chi is a part of your life, or it isn’t. Most really serious students now want to help others along the path, sharing his or her experiences, techniques, and love of the art. You’ll never get rich teaching Tai Chi, but you’ll enjoy good health, a positive outlook on life, and a community of like minded people. Wonderful.