I’m starting this as I am off today to San Bernadino to teach my first seminar. It is a Tai Chi Seminar for one of my younger classmates from my old school. He asked me to give a seminar at his school. The course is Yang 24.
I went to visit my Shifu last night with Sisuk for the monthly practice gathering. Sisuk who knew I was going to give this seminar checked over my Tai Chi. He was not pleased! I have gotten all of my advanced level Tai Chi training from him, that is his specialty. I was admonished for the drop in my skill level. Not that I thought I was all that, far from it. I do know on my worst day I am better than the best day of my classmate and his students who i am going to teach. Anyway I was reprimand about not practicing more especially before giving a seminar. I felt bad. Not that my quality of teaching was going to be lessened, I think I am a good teacher, and have a lot to offer these students. More so basically my ego was hurt I guess, I tend to be too sensitive. After I had been torn down, I practiced more and he said thats better. “Do not worry, just teach your style”. He had given me a bunch of changes to the form which he taught me, also a barrage of small changes, so I was confused on which way to do something while he was watching. He says “ when you practice you do things this way…, when you teach you show and teach this way…” whaooo , what ? Huh? But!…
I understand that he is teaching from a different level from where I was, and am now. He wants me to be impressive and he has high standards. He is a hard teacher. To me it is not so much about how I look to them but how I teach to them. However I do see his point. So after 30 min of practice, he was more content. I remember when I first started practicing with him, he told me all I had learned was basically useless, it was all the outside not the inside. I was crushed then, but I practiced more and discarded mostly everything I had been taught before. I did go on to win several 2nd place positions in a few tournaments. His senior student took first.
Anyway I know I have not been putting in the practice time I should, life is busy right now. My personal skill level has dropped since I was competing, but I think my teaching level has risen.
Sisuk wants to raise my skills for teaching in Japan with Yang & Chen 24. He says I HAVE to be not just good, but VERY good when I go. Yeah I know…There is a lot of training ahead. Not just with Tai Chi , but also with my Mantis. However one can only take one step at a time. Sisuk is a great Tai Chi player, but not very patient, we all have things to work on, that is his area. 🙂
So I arrive at the San Bernadino School, there are only 9 of the 15 students who originally signed up for the Seminar before I had to postpone due to my leg injury. They were though an eager bunch that was there. Not very coordinated but eager. 🙂 After a bit of introduction, a lecture, small meditation session and some Chi Gong, We were ready to start with the Tai Chi Chuan set. I knew after the first few moments, this group was not ready to learn the full 24 moments of the Yang Set. So my goal now was to get them comfortable with the movements they were being taught and given them a solid understanding of the Tai Chi Chaun principals they were using, or suppose to be using. This was more vital than how many moves they learned over the seminar.I had them drill over and over, and over slowly adding fundamentals and a few movement sections. By the end of day one they were about 1/4 done. They still needed a lot of practice.
That evening, my senior brother from the old school came over to visit, from LA since I was in town. We hung out of the Kung Fu Patio talked of old times and people whilst hanging around the fire place.
After a while we started practicing with his Kung Fu Training aid & invention the Kung Fu hoop. At first I did not understand how it all worked, I was thinking how to control it from an old school stand point, instead of understanding it’s nature and how to go with it’s movement. Once I figured that out and applied the Shaolin Ch’an principal of being connected yet not attached. It all came together, it was truly an enlightening moment. Not only on the use of this training aid, but on Life, Ch’an and basic principal of walking the path. I was blown away, seeing things so clearly. Also was my classmate that I “got it” beyond just the physical movement of the hoop. After I finished explaining what I was thinking, he was shocked, mouth open, smiling say, You Understand! To myself I thought, it’s just Zen…
The rest of the evening during dinner and after was spent talking about Quantum Physics, Chi, spirals, old times, old friends, classmates and stretching on the carpet in the studio like the old days. It was a good evening.
The next day was the wrap up of the Seminar. Again I had the group start with Meditation and a lecture. Again I spoke on the Principals of Tai Chi Chaun. How understanding the Principal will improve their skill more than how many forms they learned. The Principals with help not only their Tai Chi Chuan, but their Mantis and Shaolin studies as well.
I also covered the importance of doing Meditation regularly as part of their Physical training. The Shaolin Ch’an path is about balance, Yang of the Kung Fu movement meditation (martial art) is balanced by the Yin of Stillness in Mediation. The other topic covered was our responsibility as followers of the Shaolin Ch’an Tao. We need to understand we are part of all things and in our efforts to ease world suffering, the environment also is part of us and our karmic responsibility. Saving others, ending suffering extends to the environment. I gave them a Eco Flag from the Global Sports Alliance, which was hung in the school as a reminder.
Chi Gong and review was next of the schedule for the day. The next 2 hours were spent on that. Just before the lunch break I explained to them, how I felt it was better for them to learn, understand & be comfortable with only part of the form. They could learn the rest later much faster and better if they worked on the principals and foundation of what hey had. I would leave the complete form on tape with their Shifu. I explained in the time left I could cram them full of the whole form, but they would only get frustrated with not remembering parts, do it incorrectly, then stop doing it at all in a short time. Small steps are better for the long haul in this. Then I showed them the complete form, and they agreed, with my suggested even though they had signed up to learn the whole form, it is better to be comfortable and have a basic understanding with part of it, than completely miss the point with the whole set.
All worked well. Everyone at the end said they were pleased with the seminar. We lost two people from the first day. I guess it was too much for them after the first day. However they who stayed left smiling and I feel they all took away something from the sessions, as did I.