i am teacherless

i am teacherless

Postby tanmeiryu » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:12 pm

i recently have been put in an unusual situation and would like your input.

i am 56 years old and i have been a martial artist for years having received ranked black belts in two disciplines and high colored belt ranks in three others. this is totally irrelevant to the practice of taichi chuan but I just wanted to state that I have a background in martial arts.

about three years ago, i started studying tai chi chuan from an instructor at my local gym. the style of karate I had been studying originated with a Chinese style and I could see a lot of the forms had been translated from taichi chuan but now my karate seemed incomplete. when I realized the value and wealth of knowledge to be found in practicing taichi chuan, I gave up all my other practices to concentrate my studies on the grand ultimate fist. i learned the postures of the yang style long form rather quickly and was studying the deeper meanings of the applications and energies of taichi chuan.

about eight months ago, my teacher and the owner of the gym had a disagreement and my teacher was fired. when the lady in charge of scheduling classes came to inform us that there would no longer be a tai chi class, the other students said "what about eric(that's me)? he knows the form. he can teach us.". i quickly told them that i was not qualified to teach as there was so much that i did not know. they responded with "you know more than we do, teach us what you know."

so i became the taichi chuan teacher at the gym.

while looking for a source of knowledge i came across michael gilman's website. it was very close to what our old teacher was teaching. there were a lot of differences but it was as close as i could come to what we had learned previously. so i ordered his master course on dvd. when i received the course there were a lot of major changes to the way the form is performed. i don't really know how to say this but, the form was the same while at the same time being very different from what i had already learned.

i know that my original teacher is of the yip tai tak lineage and michael gilman is of the choy hok peng lineage. both of whom learned from yang chen fu.

then i found the yang family web site. i thought if i want to learn taichi chuan i should go to the source. so i ordered the dvd on the traditional form.

i was hoping that the dvd would dissolve the differences between the two ways that i had learned and show me the proper way to do the form so that i could pass this knowledge on to the students in the class. it became very obvious to me that the two versions of the form that i had learned can be traced back to the original. although they are very different in the way they are performed, they are also very much the same and when you combine various aspects of the two it becomes very close to the form practiced by yang jun

as to my old teacher, we remain on good terms. but because of the bad blood between him and the gym owner, he will not do anything that will help or further the ambitions of the owner. so being caught in the crossfire, i lost a valuable source of knowledge. The only other teacher I have found in the area teaches the beijing 24 form and does not teach any theory or applications.

so here I am, an untrained teacher of taichi chuan, teaching taichi chuan. sometimes I feel like it's the old "blind leading the blind" situation. but I practice and study everyday hoping that, between the books, dvd's and my personal exoerience, i will get better and perhaps help others learn what little I know. on other sites, I have been criticized for teaching without proper training and have been told that it is impossible to learn from a book or dvd and that I should stop teaching immediately and go find a teacher for myself before trying to teach others. but I figure if I am able to pass on some knowledge it is better than no knowledge at all. am I wrong?


[This message has been edited by tanmeiryu (edited 04-28-2008).]
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Postby shugdenla » Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:32 pm

tanmeirryu said
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The only other teacher I have found in the area teaches the beijing 24 form and does not teach any theory or applications.</font>


97.999% of all teachers do not teach theory or application because most taijiquan is health or competition oriented.
You outlook is positive that I am sure you will find a good teacher. With all the seminars around, taking a few will give more of an insight to compare what you teach vs what you are learning.
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Postby mlot » Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:49 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tanmeiryu:
<B>The only other teacher I have found in the area teaches the beijing 24 form and does not teach any theory or applications.

so here I am, an untrained teacher of taichi chuan, teaching taichi chuan. sometimes I feel like it’s the old “blind leading the blind” situation. but I practice and study everyday hoping that, between the books, dvd's and my personal exoerience, i will get better and perhaps help others learn what little I know. on other sites, I have been criticized for teaching without proper training and have been told that it is impossible to learn from a book or dvd and that I should stop teaching immediately and go find a teacher for myself before trying to teach others. but I figure if I am able to pass on some knowledge it is better than no knowledge at all. am I wrong?</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm not judging you in anyway, tanmeiryu, because I do not know you, but I do agree to some extent that teaching something you are not very proficient at yourself is a rather hard dilemma. I would question myself, and my biggest fears would be teaching something incorrectly to a student who will now practice it incorrectly from that point on.

[This message has been edited by mlot (edited 01-20-2009).]
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Postby tanmeiryu » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:39 am

thanks for the advice. and thanks for not calling me an idiot and telling me i should quit even trying to learn taichi chuan without a teacher like i have been told on other sites.
my class is made entirely of older people, the youngest one being 68,and none of them have any experience or interest in martial arts. i try to teach them about intent, sinking the chi, the eight energies, etc. but is is like talking to a wall. the reason they take the class is that they have heard of the mysterious ancient chinese art of tai chi and they want to improve their health. or to tell their friends they "take" tai chi. or just to look cool in the park on sundays.
now , don't get me wrong, they are all very nice people and i have made some very good friends, but as far as practice goes, it's the two hours a week in class and no more. not one of them is willing to devote any more than that to learning taichi chuan.
if i had a student that was serious about learning taichi chuan i think that i could give him a good start butin good consience i would have to tell him find a better teacher than me.
in my past experiences in martial arts i have found that whenever i am teaching, my learning increases dramatically. it seems that seeing the mistakes of other people and correcting them really shows me my own faults and what i need work on to correct and improve my own form.
so by teaching taichi chuan i am fulfilling their needs and improving my own skills.
i know this sounds self centered and selfish, but if it works for everybody involved, can that be a bad thing?
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:31 am

Eric,
You have found one of the only Tai Chi discussion boards online, at least that I've ever found, that has members that are actually more interested in supporting and helping each other than they are in insulting and denigrating each other. The folks here are actually more interested in helping each other learn than they are in making themselves sound "important".

That said, your description of your students describes most people taking Tai Chi classes. This is nothing unusual.
Your students have one advantage over most, they know that their teacher is not a "Master of the ancient Chinese secret" but is instead a guy who knows a little about it and by their own insistence is teaching them what he knows and only what he knows. Go online and search out "Tai Chi" schools, read the teacher descriptions on most of them. You will see a plethora of teachers who claim they learned their Tai Chi from some guy who learned from some guy who learned from some guy who learned from the most ancient and revered master of Tai Chi who climbed down from Wudang Mountain with skills that cannot be compared in this mortal realm but only by comparing him the Gods of Tai Chi themselves. This skill was attained after ten centuries of solo study of the art while they studied the motions of dragons and rocs and has been passed down in direct lineage, teacher to student, and that they, and ONLY they, can teach you the "true essence of Tai Chi Chuan with all of its secrets intact".

By comparison, you are honest with your students and they know what they can expect out of you.
That's quite a change, I'd say.

Just continue to be honest with your students and don't make anything up out of whole cloth and feed it to them as gospel truth. That's the most anyone can expect out of you.
As long as you aren't touting yourself as the greatest Master of Tai Chi since Yang Cheng Fu himself and the only holder of its secrets left in the world, you'll be doing just fine.
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Postby fol » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:29 pm

Hello, tanmeiryu: A lot of us are in the same boat--trying to piece decent taiji training together from whatever help exists locally, supplemented by dvds and trips. I strongly recommend Yang Jun's seminars (see the tab above), both for their outstanding quality and for their welcoming community. Likely you'll meet some of the people who hang out on this board.

I'm going to Winchester! Anyone else?

[This message has been edited by fol (edited 04-29-2008).]
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Postby shugdenla » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:41 pm

tanmeiryu

Fol's idea is great!
Check out the Winchester venue, i.e. Taste of China this year.
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Tue Apr 29, 2008 7:53 pm

Fol,
Wonderful idea.
Eric,
Don't overlook next years Symposium in Nashville, TN. There is a link on the front page of this website to get information.
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Postby tanmeiryu » Thu May 01, 2008 5:25 pm

thanks again for your advice and support.
i will need all i can get.
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Postby JerryKarin » Thu May 01, 2008 10:55 pm

Another thumbs up for Yang Jun's seminars. You will return home with a whole new level of understanding and a framework by which you can judge correctness on your own.
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Postby Audi » Thu May 01, 2008 11:47 pm

Hi Tanmeiryu,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">when the lady in charge of scheduling classes came to inform us that there would no longer be a tai chi class, the other students said "what about eric(that's me)? he knows the form. he can teach us.". i quickly told them that i was not qualified to teach as there was so much that i did not know. they responded with "you know more than we do, teach us what you know."</font>


For me, that is key. If your students understand the situation, I think that is the most important thing.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Passing on some knowledge rather than no knowledge at all sounds good on the surface, but if you pass on incorrect knowledge to someone, then I think it's better to pass on no knowledge at all.</font>


I think the issue here is a question of "reliance." If your students are relying on you to give them something that you in fact cannot give, then it is better to let them know. If, however, you are meeting their minimum needs, I do not think there is a problem.

Another problem could arise if your teaching becomes a block or a hindrance to their further studies. If there are unlikely to be further studies, I do not think there is an issue.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">...I mean I would still utilize the area teacher who teaches the Beijing 24 form. While they may not teach theory and applications, you still might be able to learn more about correct movement and posture.</font>


I think this is a very good suggestion, unless that teacher knows only the postures without the theory or if he or she teaches movement principles that conflict with the style or sub-style you are using as your model.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You might consider travelling once a month (more or less as you can) to a nearby city that does have a proficient Yang style teacher.</font>

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I strongly recommend Yang Jun's seminars (see the tab above), both for their outstanding quality and for their welcoming community. Likely you'll meet some of the people who hang out on this board.</font>

These are also excellent suggestions. It is very hard to see your own mistakes clearly. Traveling periodically to someone who can help you see yourself can be a tremendous shortcut to great improvement, expecially if you put in the hard practice work.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">then i found the yang family web site. i thought if i want to learn taichi chuan i should go to the source. so i ordered the dvd on the traditional form.</font>

While I do not think this site is the only source of good Taijiquan, I do think it can be a very good and helpful source. Certainly, the DVD is an excellent resource. If you have any questions or concerns about large or small issues, ask away, especially if you are trying to learn the flavor of the form taught by the Association.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">and thanks for not calling me an idiot and telling me i should quit even trying to learn taichi chuan without a teacher like i have been told on other sites.</font>

Alas, this site too has occasionally had its less than charitable moments, but in general I think we try to be helpful, as Bob describes. As for statement above, I think the operative word is "learn." Learning Taijiquan from scratch through a book is probably a bad idea, but using a book once you have some foundation is a different matter.

I also am not so sure whether the usual advice about not starting with books applies equally to DVDs. A teacher is always far, far preferable; but it might be possible to learn something useful beginning only with a DVD. A think learning a language is probably a good analogy. Using only a book, you really can't do much, but with tapes or a DVD you probably could go pretty far.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri May 02, 2008 2:30 pm

Fol,
I won't be able to make it to Winchester, but I will make it to Louisville this year.
It is sort of in my neighborhood...
;-)

I will also be at next years Symposium. Wild horses couldn't keep me away.

Bob
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Postby tanmeiryu » Fri May 02, 2008 5:14 pm

thanks again for your knowledge, insights and concern for my plight. i really can "feel the love".
i learned the form from my teacher but, to use a construction analogy, i feel like i only did the framing. now i need to do the finish work. i agree that learning the form from a book would be a truly daunting task.
i did go to the beijing 24 teacher and learned what i could from her but she only teaches the form and no applications or theories. and the style she teaches really conflicts with what yang jun is teaching on the dvd.
so it looks like i am going to be pumping as much info as i can from this forum. i hope i don't become to much of annoyance with my questions.
thanks again.

[This message has been edited by tanmeiryu (edited 05-02-2008).]
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Fri May 02, 2008 7:31 pm

Tan,
You can find info about teachers in and around New Orleans here:

http://www.taichinetwork.org/searchpages/New-Orleans-Louisiana-Tai-Chi.html

There are quite a few teachers of Tai Chi in your area. I can't find anyone who teaches Yang Jun's exact system, but there are many excellent teachers in your area who can teach you perfectly legitimate Tai Chi Chuan.
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Postby tanmeiryu » Mon May 05, 2008 12:07 am

thanks bob!
all this time i have been looking for teachers in louisisana, i never thought to look in mississippi.
the school in new orleans is over 60 miles from my house but now i see there is a school teaching yang style in picayune, ms., which is only about 20-25 miles from here. i will try to contact them on monday.


[This message has been edited by tanmeiryu (edited 05-04-2008).]
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