January 24, 2018 - At the start of a new year, it is a good time for all Tai Chi and Qigong teachers to plan their continuing education for their personal development. This applies to all levels, whether the instructor is new or with 30 plus years of experience. I'm not referring to the daily training regimens that I must assume all instructors maximize. I would think 60 to 90 minutes every day would be a minimum for that. What I am referring to is attending classes, workshops, retreats with teachers who have something meaningful to transmit.
This is important to hear someone else's voice explain something you are familiar with. Words are important. However, with an Internal Arts Tradition tracing back 3,000 years (Dao Yin) and possibly longer, there will always be opportunities to have experiential moments. Only from these experiences can we remain fresh for our students, and personally grow within the art.
Many teachers fall into the trap of thinking the preparation for class and doing some form every so often maintains an adequate level of experience qualifying them to teach. This is a monumental mistake and sooner rather than later your students will pass you by and look for other class opportunities. Students of all levels will be wowed by a teacher starting a class by introducing another level of or interpretation of the Preparation and Commencement, especially if they are more advanced.
I have changed the way I teach the Preparation and Commencement several times over the past 30 years. The principles are the same. However, the expression changes as my personal connection to energy, spiraling, intent and my ability to release continues to develop. This applies to every movement and transition in every system and comes from attending ongoing classes and systems. Augmenting Tai Chi form with additional and advanced study with Weapons, Dao Yin, Qigong, Push Hands, Meditation and Xing Yi has helped expand my experiential moments which I then can pass along within any system and level of student. This certainly furthers my own personal development and what I get from training.
There are certain Tai Chi / Energetic Internal Arts principles. Students want to learn them like a person in the dessert looking for water. Sometimes the student doesn't know what they are looking for and hence surrenders to the process waiting for "epiphanies". As teachers, we have a responsibility to create and then to expand on experiential opportunities which the student can then own.