|Indoor student of taijiquan|
|Written by Rachel|
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Most people start tai chi lessons with lofty ambitions, only to falter almost immediately and quit. Or settle into a rut; remaining a beginner.
Often they are keen and friendly but hardly dedicated.
Why learn taijiquan?
You pay for driving lessons so that you can drive a car. You attend Spanish classes so that you can speak Spanish. You learn French cuisine so that you can cook better.
Why do you learn taijiquan?
You learn taijiquan in class so that you can practice and use the principles and combat skills of taijiquan in your everyday life. You want tangible, concrete results.
If you can't
do it, you don't know it.
The teacher cannot help anyone. Their job is to offer the material and provide lessons. It is the student's job to actually do the work.
To quote the proverb: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
In modern terms, an 'indoor student' is somebody who is genuinely committed to getting through the syllabus. Whether fast-track or at their own pace.
Indoor tuition is aimed at people who are wanting to put their 'money where their mouth is'. They are not content to be a talker...
These students don't want to be in a rut. They don't want to remain beginners indefinitely. They want to learn the real art.
They train daily, progress consistently and learn the art more thoroughly than other class members.
The 'inner school' offers serious depth and is not for the half-hearted student. Indoor tuition is aimed at people who want fast-track progress through the taijiquan syllabus.
Indoor students are people who train very closely with the instructor. They have a chance to really feel the art.
An inner school is also known as a 'closed school'. Traditionally, lessons were taught at the teacher's home. An inner school focuses upon the real substance of the art.
Every form nuance, every neigong, every martial application. Great emphasis is placed on the small details. A minor change can produce a significant effect.
At the heart of the inner teaching is neigong (whole-body strength), jing (internal power) and combat skills.
You get the 'good oil'. Sooner, better, faster. You will no longer be part of the outer (public) school.
No. We don't offer that. Taoism loathes self-importance, as it runs contrary to reality.
Just do the work
Unlike lineage, nothing is expected of the indoor student except steady progress and enthusiasm.
An 'indoor session' is akin to boot camp but way, way more martial and detailed. Same price, duration etc but different style of session. More focussed. Like a very long workshop...
e.g. for a lower grade student, indoor would mean carte blanche access to every topic in the coloured belts - with as much detail as you can handle.
Vastly more in-depth than Monday night or workshops. An indoor student essentially picks and chooses what they want to explore.
How much time must I commit?
Everyone is different. You must do as much or as little as you feel is appropriate for you and your schedule.
What if things change?
The main point of indoor tuition is to get the most out of class and out of Sifu Waller.
Life is full of changes. Surprises. Aim to do as well as you can for as long as you can. At some point it will end. But it ends in fullness rather than indifference and apathy.
If you want extra training sessions on a weekend or a week night, let Rachel know.
Better than a workshop
Think of how much more detailed a workshop is compared to a Monday night class? In terms of detail, an indoor session is a step up from a workshop.
At a workshop, you have to take 'pot luck' with who you're partnered with and the quality of your training will be affected by this.
At an indoor session there won't be anyone there who isn't like minded, sincere, committed. Plus, the lesson will be geared towards your progress rather than the lowest common denominator.
Of all the people who begin the discipline of taijiquan, only a handful will continue past a year or so. Humility, compassion, lack of ambition, non-aggression, spontaneity and silence are not qualities that our societies value. There is no more difficult journey than the journey to the self.
Areas of interest
An indoor student is not required to learn every single thing that the instructor knows. They may choose to only focus on a given subject such as qigong, weaponry, martial sets, chin na or form.
This is ideal when the individual wants to pursue a specific field of interest.
If you read Sifu Waller's journey, it can sound very intimidating. But remember that he was a 'lineage student'...
A lineage student is vastly more serious than an indoor student. An indoor student is simply accelerating their progress and gaining some perspective on just how amazing the art can be.
Lineage students are obligated to keep the art alive. Indoor students are not. They are not under any obligation at all. Mainly, they have a priority shift; focussing more upon combat than anything else.
Being an indoor student is about personal progress, not lineage.
People might imagine that we expect them to leap from 'student' status to being someone like Sifu Waller. This is implausible. Indoor status is mainly self-serving. Lineage is not.
Not many people are cut out for lineage but most keen people are capable of indoor status and would benefit from that extra martial grit.
Indoor student ang pow
Becoming an indoor student is considered to be a privilege and an honour. Traditionally a candidate would offer about 6 months tuition fees as a gift up-front.
This kind of ang pow is designed to make the student think about what they are requesting.
It also serves to demonstrate genuine appreciation for the opportunity to learn taijiquan in this manner.
An indoor student is akin to an old-fashioned apprentice. They commit themselves to earnest study under a skilled craftsman in order to learn the art for themselves.
Their aim is to 'steal the art', to acquire the abilities. The apprenticeship is lengthy, difficult, and will entail a lot of hard work along the way.
Any taijiquan student may ask to become an indoor student, but there are conditions.
Unlike a lineage student, there is no contract, no tea ceremony, no bai shi. The indoor student relationship is simple:
If the indoor student trains hard, they reap the rewards. If they find that indoor tuition isn't working for them or they can't commit the time, they return to 'normal' student status.
There's no pressure or hassle involved. Students proceed at their own pace, in their own time, in their own way.
Inside the door
indoor student is paying for an unparalleled
opportunity - a chance to learn more than anyone else in class,
faster and more comprehensively than the average
tai chi student.
It is also the first step on the path to lineage.
teachings of a martial tradition may be
recorded in scrolls or expressed verbally, those
outside the tradition who gain access to this
information have little chance of learning much of practical value. Such
instructions invariably consist of vague
references or riddle-like aphorisms. These
cryptic axioms suffice for the conveying of deep secrets because the martial
artist who receives them properly has spent an enormous
amount of time apprenticing under his master. They
have in common, teacher and student, the specialized
vocabulary of their tradition, as
well as similar experience in the physical
actions demanded in learning it. The teachings, however, opaque they may
appear to the outsider, have meaning to the
initiate and his master because the two
have endured the long process of
Become a thief
In return for ang pow, the indoor student of taijiquan gets a privileged level of tuition, insight and attention from their instructor:
book additional weekend sessions
- akin to boot camp
- martial training exclusively
Longer private lessons (at no extra cost)
Pursue specific fields of interest
Access to The Book of Neigong
- san sau
- silk arms
- penetrating defences
- chin na (misplacing the bones) applications
- shuai jiao applications
- form applications
- stick drills
- sword drills
- wallbag drills
More comprehensive biomechanical insight
Opportunity to complete more book assignments
Faster progress through the grades
combat training with a view to an earlier
emergence of fighting skill
Indoor tuition is more traditional
It's how people get to really understand what needs working on and why. Sifu Waller can't offer that on a Monday night.
Indoor student status isn't like lineage. It's more akin to 'tailored learning' but in a good way. The student gets to focus on areas of interest. The training develops in many directions.
Traditionally, in China a martial arts instructor was very reluctant to take on new students. How come? If the student's skills were inadequate it would directly reflect on the teacher.
On a mild level, this made the teacher look incompetent and affected their reputation. More seriously, it could mean that the teacher would be put to death for failing in their responsibility.
Consequently, traditional tuition tended to be harsh and severe. The teacher hammered the student and adhered strictly to Confucian terseness.
Sifu Waller's teacher (Peter Southwood) followed this method.
John Garrett: Let me be
clear... Going with me will be the hardest thing you've ever done. But, on
the other hand, no one will ever screw with you again...
(Agents of Shield)
• Indoor student
• Indoor student conditions
• Indoor student expectations
• Inner school
• Inner teachings
• Steal my art
• Direct transmission
Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 15 February 2020