Reading Taiji.quest.ion’s post on Sunlight and Shadow made me think about advice I often hand out, that is, Look for a teacher, not a style. I’ve often encountered various forum threads or emails about what style is the best, but to me, that’s really the wrong path, IMO. The important thing is finding a good teacher.
Let us consider the phrase again:
Look for a Teacher, not a Style
For me, I would take this even further to note the importance of finding good, local instruction. I cannot emphasize the importance of working with a real, live instructor. We’ve often heard the saying that our true selves are revealed through the eyes of another. This is because we often project certain things on ourselves that can result in a rosy view of reality.
For example, I thought my stances were really good and low but after working with my chen instructor, he showed me the error of my ways. He introduced things to me that can only be felt. Now, when I do the form, I can easily feel when I’m off, or just not settling right in my stancework.
In addition to corrections, a good instructor will teach us how to learn. Instead of spoon-feeding everything, a good teacher will show us how to discern the answer for ourselves. When I asked questions about a specific posture, I tended to get a question in response. This caused me to think about my actions. Is my movement inline with the principles of silk reeling?
What really got me thinking about this whole ordeal is a comment Taiji.quest.ion made about missing chen. I have to admit, that I am in the same boat as him and do miss my chen style. This is the style where I’ve received the most instruction and hands-on correction. With my yang, I am basically going self-taught as I’ve only had formal instruction via the TT Liang CMC style Yang, but I’m currently doing YZD flavor of Yang.
Upon inquiries, I’ve often advised people to find the best local instruction first. If someone has a background in taiji, then I advise them to continue working on their material until they find local instruction.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Perhaps, I’m just not ready ready…