Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 376

Simple Words of Advice/Tai Chi Chuan Class Sequence

Simple Words of Advice:
Imitate (learn carefully from your teacher and those that have gone before).
Assimilate (practice diligently and take the principles into your core).
Innovate (after careful study and much practice, you should feel free to use Tai Chi in your own way to aid you in attaining your goals).

Every instructor evolves his or her own teaching techniques. The longer one teaches, the more refined this technique usually becomes. I have been teaching 50 years and I certainly notice how my teaching has changed. It started out to be identical to Master Choy’s classes – mostly just doing the form. He was much more into Kung Fu than Tui Shou. An hour class once a week. No application partner work or push hands since Master Choy didn’t teach it. In the five years I studied with him, I only had one push hands class. I didn’t have much knowledge of that aspect.

So as I continued teaching and students asked questions, my style changed. Books on Tai Chi started to appear, so I had a chance to study history, philosophy, martial applications, and other fine points discussed by some top instructors.

So here is what my classes have evolved into. Keep in mind that we have class in the out of doors, four days a week, for two hours. Covid has limited the close interactive play I like to use to help students experience the reality of what they are doing in the form. So this is typical for right now.
1: Greeting and announcements. Helping to develop a growing sense of community among students.
2: Warm ups – first hour. Usually starts fairly informally with arm swinging and joint mobility exercises for arms legs, and torso. Various Qigong exercises. Each morning class is different: Monday is Stick Qigong for strength building and core building, using a short stick. Wednesday is Open the Gates mainly for joints, Friday is Circling Qigong for flow and energy understanding, Saturday is basic warm-ups and mainly form work,(we have lately been working on the repeated movements). The first class usually lasts an hour. Some people only come for this part, others only come for the second part, while most come for both.
3: A short break then the rest of the time is devoted to form practice.
4: Review the form up to, and including, the last lesson. Sometimes go through the whole form at this point.
5: Review the move or moves we focused on during the last session, especially the application.
6: Answer any questions.
7: Introduce new move or moves along with applications.
8: Work on that move or moves.
9: Incorporate the new move into what has gone before.
10: If we have time, go through the whole Long Form.
11: Any questions or comments. Wrap up and finish.