Indoor student expectations
Written by Rachel

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Taijiquan is not the most credible martial art on the planet. This is quite understandable. Most people who train taijiquan are not training how to fight. They are more interested in aesthetics or health.
Unlike a lineage student, an indoor student is not expected to keep taijiquan alive and kicking... however, you are expected to train it for combat.
After all, if an indoor student has no fighting credibility, your teacher has no credibility and the art itself has no credibility.

No pressure

If this sounds like pressure to you, then you'll never be a martial artist. What do you think will happen if a person actually assaults you? Now you've got pressure. If you screw it up, they'll beat you up.

The will to fight

A martial artist is not afraid to fight. In fact, they want to fight. They could have played golf or tennis or gone hiking. Instead, they signed-up to learn an ancient Chinese martial art.
This was not the average choice here.

Are you a martial artist?

A regular taijiquan student has the luxury of training their art in whatever manner best suits their disposition. It's their journey after all... The same is true for indoor students (to a degree anyway).
There is a catch. The regular student doesn't necessarily ever have to become a martial artist. It's their choice. They can do what they like in essence and it affects nobody but themselves.
By definition, an indoor student needs to learn how to use taijiquan. This is accomplished by learning how to fight. So, signing-up to become an indoor student is signing-up to fight. Like it or not.

Learning how to learn

If an indoor student fails to move up the grades every year they revert back to normal student status. No ill feelings. However, it is quite easy to avoid this situation.
The first step is to attend every learning opportunity you can; particularly the indoor sessions. The second step is to learn how to learn. Not many students really think about step 2.
There are many good books nowadays about maximising the learning experience. Read them. Sifu Waller did. He even added many of them to his reading list.

Focused learning

Plan your goals, set training times, take ownership of the learning experience. Don't treat it as some random phenomenon. Be an active learner, not a lazy one.

Speaking the language

At present your martial arts knowledge base is miniscule... but this is easy to remedy and fun to do. Read about the martial arts, watch video clips. Read about Taoism, Zen, The Tai Chi Classics.
Doing all this will help to develop your knowledge base, your mental representation. Pretty soon, you'll start thinking like a martial artist and that is the first step to becoming one.

Understanding what Sifu Waller is talking about

Attending classes is not enough. Sifu Waller has studied a colossal amount of material that he brings into his tuition. But he cannot share most of it with you. Why not?
Because you simply wouldn't know what he was talking about.
If Sifu Waller starting discussing ideas from The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, The Way of Chuang Tzu, Tao Te Ching... would you recognise the references?
Would those examples mean anything to you?
Sifu Waller even went to the trouble of providing a 900 page introduction to his teachings. Have you read it? Did you understand it?

Direct transmission

Indoor sessions and private lessons are your best opportunity to interact with Sifu Waller. The more you engage with your instructor, the more you will learn.
Particularly, if you partner with him or play the attacker during a demonstration. If you ignore instructions, over-analyse or get scared, you'll learn very little. You're too busy thinking about yourself.
Make the best of every opportunity. Sifu Waller can do the art. He can fight. He can dismantle taijiquan and explain it in ways you cannot current comprehend. Find out how. Walk the path yourself...

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 21 October 2019