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Thinking of the kung fu syllabus in terms of percentages is interesting. And inspiring. How much of the syllabus do you actually know?
Sifu Waller would contend that nothing is truly mastered, and that everyone should be continually expanding their knowledge/skills/understanding.
Be ambitious. Gain some perspective. A beginner is not competent. They are introductory. To train at the beginner's level indefinitely is to deny yourself any real understanding of the art.
There is an Indian folk tale
about six blind men inspecting an elephant:
The first man encounters the side of the animal
and believes it to be a wall.
The second man imagines the tusk to be a spear.
The third man thinks that the trunk is a snake.
The fourth man considers the leg to be a tree.
The fifth man feels an ear and believes it to be a fan.
The sixth man finds the tail and is certain it is a rope.
Two way process
Learning taijiquan involves acquiring new skills, principles and insights, in addition to refining what you have previously been taught.
The degree of progress is entirely relative to how much each individual invests in the training. Class is fine for corrections but offers little scope for refinement.
In some martial arts schools belts are given out to students for 'time served'; rewarding loyalty, commitment, attitude. Our school does not offer credit for attendance.
Attending class and working through the syllabus are sometimes mutually exclusive matters. Many people compartmentalise class.
They set aside Monday night for taijiquan and have a great time but think no more about the art until next week. This is not at all the same as working through the grades.
Your progress is inextricably linked to your degree of commitment. If you attend casually, your progress will be slow. If you attend weekly lessons, your progress will be steady.
If you train daily at home, your progress will be strong and rewarding.
Not everyone wants to commit themselves to weekly lessons and daily practice. Nobody says that you should. It is important to do what feels right for you.
Similarly, you must not resent the progress of others in the class who are dedicated and skilled. Each student is free to proceed at a pace of their own choosing.
If you want to attend once or twice a month, that is fine providing you accept that you will need plenty of revision and your progress will be slow.
Feeling to be under pressure runs contrary to the very spirit of taijiquan. Be patient and allow that things take time.
As you like it
If your personal commitments are such that you cannot (or do not want to) put a lot of time and effort into your taijiquan, that is fine. You must do what feels right for you and your lifestyle.
People all get something different from the art.
Take it easy. Do what you can. Do what suits you. And let the art unfold at its own pace.
7 November 2012
Last updated 21 November 2021