Patricia from an unknown location asks:
“How do you teach Tai Chi?”
How do I teach? That is a $64,000 question. The short answer, is with Patience. The longer answer follows.
My style of teaching is to let the students, or the class, take the lead in how much movement and in how much detail they are comfortable with. This does not mean asking the students, as they may not know what to say. I teach and see how the movements and details are absorbed. There is a point after which new material meets resistance and is not learned. When you have exceeded it, students begin to have a confused look in there eyes, or a dull expression on thier faces. When that happens, you have gone to far, so it is time to stop and review. Learning how to go close to that point, and not exceed it, is partly intuitive and a subject for another time.
Within the movements, I give as much detail as I think/feel the students can take, remembering that there is always correction, if a student will but recognize that he or she needs it and come back. Correction is not for everyone, and some will leave with only a rudimentary understanding of the movements. Others will realize there is more, that it is important and go on for life with their study and improvement. I am one such.
Teaching Tai Chi is a bit like doing a sculpture, you can shape only so much at a time, but the next time around can be for finer correction. If my lesson plan is overwhelming the students, I scrap it and keep only as much as they can take. It is better to have them learn what they can absorb, than to keep a schedule and confuse everyone. On the other hand, if a person, in a private class, or a group, is ready to learn what comes next, I teach it.
Everyone learns best in their own way. As teachers, we have to find it and support it. Some learn best by demonstration and so they will watch you and ask to see it again. Others will learn best by explanation, and will ask questions about every detail. Others wil ask you to put them in the correct posture, or alter thier posture to the correct position. And still others will ask, what do you have in writing. Different people learn in different ways.
There are benefits to learning Patience, that is why I called my school Patience T’ai Chi. I took a quality that I needed in my life, and named my school after it, so that I would always keep it in mind. Patience is an important quality when teaching, because you may be asked again and again to show and explain the movements. What one student learns in 1 demonstration or explanation, another student may learn in 100. You need to teach it again and again, with patience, and enthusiasm, the first time, and every time.
And so you need to ask, is there too much or too little gross movement taught at each session? Too much or too little fine detail taught at each session?
In Tai Chi,