Teaching tai chi (2)

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A tai chi for health teacher only needs to learn approximately 10% of the kung fu syllabus; just the forms, qigong exercises, pushing hands, partner work exercises etc.
This is not a lot of material to study. There is no excuse for being an amateur.
A kung fu instructor has studied about 60% of the overall curriculum, so there is a lot of work to do. Nobody expects a new instructor to be an expert.

Can I become a taijiquan teacher?

Most classes welcome anyone who wants to become a taijiquan teacher. This is the criteria:

Excellent communicator
Good sense of humour
Not take yourself too seriously
Genuinely interested in other people and their wellbeing
Committed to daily home practice
Attends all lessons, workshops and training opportunities
Willing to work rigorously through the syllabus
Willing to take private lessons on a regular basis
Evidence of metacognition

How long will it take to become a taijiquan teacher?

Remember: before teaching, you must have something to teach. You must know the art thoroughly.
It typically takes about 10 years for a serious candidate (relative to practice and individual skill) to learn the kung fu syllabus to a suitable standard. Then, you learn how to teach...
This timescale is normal and to be expected in pretty much every traditional martial art.

Learning how to teach

If 10 years sounds like a long period of time to you, consider:

A school teacher must be educated for 17 years before commencing the 9 month teacher training course.
An Alexander Technique teacher requires 3 years full-time training.
A piano/music teacher studies for about 10 years before considering teacher training.
What about a ballet teacher? A mechanic? A joiner? An electrician? A yoga teacher? A scuba diver? A driving instructor? An accountant? A doctor? A lawyer?
All of these time scales are contingent upon ability and aptitude.

Mark is an extremely successful high school mathematics teacher. When we asked him when he really learned calculus, he said, "When I first taught it. There is no better way to learn anything than to actually teach it. When I teach something, I have to confront many fundamental questions: What is the motivation to learn this topic? What are the basic examples? On what aspects of this material should I focus? What are the underlying themes? What ties the ideas together? What is the global structure? What are the important details? These questions force me to discover the heart of the matter, and see exactly what I truly understand and what I still need to work on."

(Edward B Burger & Michael Starbird)


Fast-track courses

Weekend taijiquan teacher training courses and long-distance instructor courses are taking advantage of enthusiastic well-meaning people who are naive, impatient and unrealistic.
Their qualifications are worthless. Skill requires close, hands-on work with a highly-experienced instructor over a sustained period of time.

Do some research

There are countless books available concerning the art and how long it takes to learn (and teach). Read the experts. Find out for yourself. Think it through.
Would you trust your health to a doctor who bought his qualification on-line? Why is taijiquan any different? Would you trust your body to an unskilled taijiquan amateur?

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Page created 2 August 1995
Last updated 12 July 2021