Unlike other martial arts, T’ai Chi Ch’uan has had no gradings, belts, or recognizable stages of development. Students become teachers if and when their own teachers consider it appropriate. Typically, these student-teachers are moved by their passion for the art, and enjoy the journey that T’ai Chi practice affords.
Beginners often worry about who to learn with, and how to go about finding the right teacher. The best advice is: stop worrying, but be alert, and DO ask questions.
When you have located a class, go along early and speak to the teacher. Ask if you can watch the class, or join in.
- - regular classes won't fit in with a student's schedule, or
- - the student has special needs, or
- - the student wishes to concentrate on some aspect of training, or
- - the student is uncomfortable in a full class setting.
These sessions will be customized to your situation and can be scheduled with the instructor. The design is to meet you at your level to help best facilitate your learning of the form and progress as a T'ai Chi player.
For more information, call:
Sifu Terry Condren 479-283-0040
Class etiquette is a very important part of martial arts training and should be observed at all times. Eastern forms of etiquette are unfamiliar to most people, but, over time, these forms will become comfortable expressions of courtesy. Furthermore, as training continues, the meaning behind these etiquette forms will be more apparent.
One of the most basic forms of etiquette is the bow: a gesture of respect, gratitude, trust, and humility. Upon entering and leaving the class, one may face the front of the class room and bow. This shows a respect and reverence for the place.
Another way one shows respect for the martial art, the class, and the teacher is by not shouting, cursing, or becoming angry in the class. Should there be a disagreement, it is best to ask the teacher what is correct. If the teacher is unavailable, students should treat the senior student(s) with the same respect as the teacher.
Effort should be made to be on time for class, and personal needs should be taken care of prior to class. If you are unavoidably late, perform the formal bow individually before beginning to practice. During class, if there is some emergency, and you wish to stop practice or leave class, simply inform the instructor and do an individual bow as the close of your own practice.
For reasons of safety, respect, and courtesy, it is essential that the teacher’s instructions be followed exactly. Many martial arts techniques can be dangerous if not practiced properly. Therefore, if you wish to practice something other than what you have been asked to practice, you should ask the permission of the instructor.
Observation of these forms of etiquette will help to create a good atmosphere in the class. But it is not the superficial observation of a particular form of etiquette that is most important, but a sincere, open-hearted attitude toward training that ultimately gives meaning to the form.
Finding a Teacher
Do not be afraid of trying out different classes with different teachers, or of asking questions. Find out from whom each teacher has learned, and how long the teacher has been studying T’ai Chi Ch’uan. It may be unwise to learn with a teacher who has been studying for less than three years, and considerably more than three years is the ideal.
Perhaps most important, however, is to ask the teacher to explain what the class offers – not only what style is taught, but how it is organized and what happens in it. It can be helpful to be aware of the atmosphere. When you walk into a class, ask yourself whether it resonates well with you. Feel your way. If what is offered matches what you are looking for, join. If not, try others until you find the right one.
People sometimes advise looking for a teacher who belongs to a recognized body. This is sensible, and is a good way of finding a teacher. However, it is most important to be alert to your personal needs. Some excellent teachers belong to no recognized body, and there are some teachers on the lists of respected T’ai Chi organizations who may never communicate well with you. Remember, you need a teacher who inspires you to practice T’ai Chi for life.