Friendship (2)
Written by Rachel

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Roberto Sharpe once spoke of how some people play nice and speak softly yet become aggressive during partner work. In tai chi we are interested only in what is real.
A person can play whatever image suits their ego but their behaviour reveals the truth.

Tai chi class

Tai chi class is a break from how you normally operate. It is an opportunity to set aside old habits and consider new, healthier approaches.

Social support

Students in a tai chi school are encouraged to interact with one another in a healthy, friendly manner, free from the competitive norms found in wider society.
There is a supportive atmosphere of trust and care. The training hall is safe place to be.

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.

(John Lash)

Funky talk

Common conversations in modern society:

  1. Complaining about ailments or comparing medical histories

  2. Boasting, bragging or showing off

  3. Competing with other people

  4. Telling people how busy you are

  5. Talking about drinking/getting drunk

  6. Holidays

  7. Politics

  8. Not having enough money

  9. Not having time

  10. Being tired

  11. News issues/current events

  12. Opinions

  13. Pretending to be complaining when in fact boasting

Why do people come to class?

People don't come to be depressed, stressed, frustrated or anxious. Quite the opposite. They come to relax, to learn, to have a good night.

Please be considerate

Please leave your baggage outside the class... We encourage people to be healthy, to let go, to de-stress, to have fun. A political conversation or a list of health problems is sabotaging the class.
It perpetuates a miserable habit and will not make anyone feel good. Least of all you...


Upbeat, positive, constructive conversation will really lift your mood. Talk about how much you are enjoying the training, discuss something you have been working on.
Be hopeful, optimistic, refreshing. Class is about being vital, alive; completely and fully.


Interaction with the instructor is of particular importance, as this commonly entails the passing-on of knowledge, bespoke physical corrections and the exploration of deeper philosophical issues pertinent to the training.
Ideally, a tai chi school should be a good place to be: a pure place. There is no meanness or petty behaviour, no malice or sarcasm.
Good humour, camaraderie, polite manners, consideration, respect and fun result in a pleasant training environment.


Week in, week out, students attend tai chi classes. The instructor is always friendly. The lessons are always stimulating. Your fellow students are always courteous, well mannered and nice.
Your personal life may be in turmoil, your work life may be tedious or disappointing, yet tai chi class remains a constant: comfortable, familiar, friendly and fun.
Instead of being met by rivalry, one-upmanship and stress, you encounter friendship and warmth.

The work

Tai chi people have a lot to do in class. They are working on their minds, bodies and emotions
This may not sound like much until you begin to consider the difference between the idea and the reality.
You may think that your body is strong, graceful, nimble, well coordinated and flexible... until you flounder when challenged with a simple-seeming movement.
Suddenly you are faced with the fact that your body does not quite obey your commands.


The training is like unpeeling an onion. You have to explore your thoughts, your memories, your habits, your ideas. You must scrutinise your emotional responses and evaluate their purpose and worth.
There is no time for petty, cultural game playing or rivalry. Tai chi students have a lot of work to do. Much of it is done at home between classes.
Lessons are an opportunity to work on things with other people and receive important corrections, insights and new material.

Tai chi buddies

Tai chi students make friendships within class that last for many years. The shared experience of learning, growing, exploring is pleasant.
You are journeying on a path that is unusual, mysterious and fascinating. There is much to discover and you will undergo many changes along the way.
The people who attend class with you are sharing your voyage. They understand. They empathise.


The people who attend class with you have something in common. Something that you cannot explain to your friends, your family, your spouse or your colleagues.
At some point you became 'a seeker of the way'... This is not hokey, imaginary or religious (in the contemporary sense).
But it is a wonderful experience. Others around you may find their lives flat, disappointing, frustrating and empty. But not you. For you have something more.

Be your better self

Somewhere along the journey, self-image fades. The mind is quiet and rested. The chattering voice is gone.
Tai chi students have no need to perform an image, to keep up appearances (or any of the other weak traits demonstrated by the insecure).
Instead, there is a child-like feeling of freedom. No longer requiring the facades so common in adulthood, the self is now genuine; real, sincere, strong and friendly.

I like that there's no macho, aggressive attitude in the class, and that everyone is helpful and respectful of one another.


Page created 8 April 2007
Last updated 22 January 2019