Teaching Taiji to a Coworker

A coworker of mine has expressed some interest in learning taiji, so I have invited him to join me during my lunch time sessions. The first "class" was last week when the temperature was roughly 50F.  It has been a while since I have taught someone, so I felt a bit rusty and unsure about what to cover.  Generally, I tell people that if they want to tag along and just follow what I do, then by all means go for it. This is my own way of not formally teaching, but just letting someone follow.

Personally, I have some reservations about teaching as I don’t really like to formalize the event (curriculum, time frame, warm ups, etc).  However, I have received permissions from my former instructors to teach.  In fact, back in the day, I used to help teach class all the time and even taught a class or 2 when my instructor could not attend.  From a styles perspective, I have gotten permission to teach some Yang style and Chen style silk reeling and basics.  I mostly will stick to the basic foundational training and may cover the first section of a form. Beyond that, I tended to refer the student to my instructor at the time if they wanted more instruction. This methodology has worked out well for me, but things are a bit different now since I am not receiving any type of formal instruction on a regular basis.  On the other hand, I have tons of material to work on that I have recieved formal instruction on.  In other words, there is some time before I reach the end of my comfort level of what I feel I am able to teach.

Furthermore, one of my own worries about teaching is that I will not have time to work on my progress. However, I do feel there are some basics and foundations that I could use more work on, so might as well teach and do, eh?  Plus, teaching is a way of fleshing out my own understanding, so it does have it’s plusses.

The first session was basically a mish mash of things. I always start my own training session with a bit of zhan zhuang for centering.  I taught the 3 basic postures of zhan zhuang (wuji, hands at dantien, hands at heart) with some minor alignment corrections (chin tucked, ear centerline with hip and foot, etc).  Not wanting to scare my coworker away, I kept the postures relatively short in duration.  Next, I covered the bow stance and did some taiji walking drills.  The first walking drill was done with hands at sides, followed by hands at heart height zhan zhuang, followed by parting horses mane hand positions.  I did a similar sequence for the footwork used in repulse monkey. 

Then, we did some basic foundation exercises with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. In this posture, I covered the hand positions for open/close taiji, part horse’s mane, brush knee, repluse monkey, cloud hands.  Finally, we ended the session with him following me through the standardized 24 form up to the white crane spreads wings.  Overall, it was a good session and he was surprised how sore his thighs felt, even when everything was done in a really high stance.

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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6 Responses to Teaching Taiji to a Coworker

  1. Rick Matz says:

    Do you think he’ll stick with it?

  2. wujimon says:

    Hi Rick. I’m not sure if he’ll stick with taiji, but I have good vibes that
    he may. Other coworkers who have tagged along in the past have stopped after
    2-3 session. I basically tell my coworker that I’m going out to do taiji and
    he’s welcome to come along if he wants. If not, no worries either. Taiji is
    a path that many start and few stick around for the journey. I’m hopeful ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Vale Taiji says:

    Interesting about his thighs feeling sore. I find that some of the higher-stance qigong work we do actually aches my legs more than the deep-stance Chen practice (or, at least, aches them in a different way). I guess it’s due to the very slow, smooth, controlled weight shifts and height adjustments working different sets of muscles to the more dynamic, sometimes fast, movements of Chen practice.

    Good on you for helping him out – I hope he sticks with it… I’m looking forward to teaching somebody at some point ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. wujimon says:

    Hi Vale. He’s a runner, so taiji is using different sets of muscles for him, as you mentioned in your comment. I’m starting him out with Yang for now as I think it’s easier to learn for beginners, at least the physical choreography of Yang ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have a good feeling he’ll stick with it, we work in the same dept and usually eat lunch together, so either he comes with or finds other lunch plans ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. taijipedia says:

    RE Teaching stuff that you’ve never had any formal instruction on – One of the best ways to learn is to teach. Your student(s) will always bring fresh perspectives to the material.

    I’ve cheekily been teaching things that I’ve picked up off various people over the years, and although the understanding might have been fuzzy to begin with, eventually the penny drops and you see the point of it all.

    To be honest, I’ve not met many people who haven’t taught stuff outside of their comfort zone at some time or another.

    One of my teachers once said “Be large! Just go for it!”

    Hope he sticks to it, Taiji really is a wonderful thing!

  6. wujimon says:

    @tjpedia: I still have quite a bit of material I could cover in my comfort zone, so I think I’m okay for a while ๐Ÿ˜‰ Call me old school, but I generally won’t teach something unless I’ve received the “go ahead” from either the instructor of the system or perhaps some high level students in the system. Thx for your comment.

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