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Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Most adults have totally forgotten what learning entails. They placate themselves with excuses about not having a young, flexible mind... or having no time.
But this is not the truth at all. The truth is far simpler - they have become old and lazy...
Learn how to learn
Our tai chi lessons were designed to help you back into the habit of learning. These pages will expand the theme:
A beginner forever...
Brain work (meditation, awareness, metacognition)
Getting your own way
How can you tell?
Knowledge & wisdom
Learning tai chi
The purpose of a tai chi school
Seeing & looking
Steal my art
Taijiquan & piano lessons
School children are required to study 5 days a week in school and then go home and do the homework. Their performance, progress and competence is directly contingent upon these factors.
At college a student is more self-sufficient. There is less classroom time and more self-directed study.
At university the student must attend the required number of lectures and then flesh out the study all by themselves.
As with school, there will be assignments and examinations to confirm comprehension and understanding.
The traditional learning
environment for kung fu can be difficult to handle psychologically. During
the first months of training, students may get frustrated because the
training seems difficult and boring. They may feel discouraged because no
one is telling them how great they are or giving them a gold star for their
efforts. This type of feedback, which is a typical part of the modern
education process, is not suited to the kung fu learning environment.
Instructors need to encourage students but not give them false impressions
Consider this scenario: a university student fails to attend the required/necessary number of lessons, does not study, complete assignments or pass exams...
They cannot reasonably hope to be given a degree. Yet, how many adults expect results without doing the required work?
Regularly read some of the suggested books (for pleasure)
This is less challenging than it sounds.
Most people who order an accessible book such as Wolfe Lowenthal's There Are No Secrets find themselves pleasantly surprised and enthusiastic when reading the book.
It is a good starting point. And if that book was good fun, why not try reading the rest?
Cultivate the habit of daily home practice
The main challenge people face when learning tai chi is their unwillingness to practice at home between lessons.
Look at some of the key features of school learning once again: heavy repetition, practice, homework.
Even 10 minutes a day of tai chi or qigong will aid you in learning. Most people spend longer than that texting, surfing the web, watching TV, gossiping, drinking coffee or styling their hair.
Making the most of it
To gain the full health benefits of tai chi, you must make it part of your daily life. It was designed to be a tonic, not a solution/cure.
Weekly class practice is fine, but daily tai chi offers a degree of suppleness, strength, mental clarity and flexibility you are currently unfamiliar with.
Martial artists are another matter entirely. Muscle memory and reflex must be cultivated and trained continually so that the body simply responds habitually.
This requires heavy repetition, practice, homework. Sound familiar?
Reaping what you sow
The bliss that comes with a responsive, agile, dexterous, capable body is hard to articulate.
You can move with the grace of a dancer, strike with the force of a sledgehammer, feel immensely composed, physically at ease and also have on-going mental acuity/alertness.
You make it happen. You did the work. You overcame the challenges. You did it by yourself. You did it for yourself.
Fixation is the way to
fluidity is the way to life.
18 April 1995
Last updated 09 June 2019