In need of a reboot? Want to re-discover some of the most elemental aspects of the art? Grab a pen and paper for here is the crucial list of 5 sentences to reinvigorate your flagging FORM:
1: "I shut my eyes in order to see"
Paul Gauguin whilst performing Grasp the Sparrows Tail
One of the most beautiful and practical exercises with a partner is this routine in which one person adheres to another, follows or sticks to another person.
Aim: Not to hold on but instead to "feel" the direction, tension, breath, angle of movement and pace through softness and yielding.
Rules: Minimal finger-tip contact and keep your eyes closed in order to see.
2:"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens"
Jimi Hendrix whilst pondering over which strings not to bite.
We talk a lot about listening energy in Tai Chi, and therein lies the problem.
PROBLEM: Talking rather than listening.
When introducing the art, instructors explain it away, demonstrate the minutiae of the move until every molecular change has been annotated and there are no longer any spaces between all those words to squeeze in a question, to draw a breath or even to pause and wonder why.
AIM: Less agendas, more blank slates and more string biting please.
3:If you hold on tight you will lose your grip.
Lao Tzu whilst searching for wifi cover.
You can't keep a fist tight for long before it returns to an open hand.
A frown eventually dissolves, a shoulder drops after being hunched all day.
Clouds gather, rain falls and then the sun returns.
One day you have good cover, then the next you can't pick up a signal.
The wise one works alongside the direction of nature and not against it.
4:It is not our abilities that show us who we really are, but our choices.
Professor Albus Dumbledore before issuing wands.
Demonstrating a complex or advanced technique isn't always the right thing. Don't stay on the stage.
If you want to help someone understand, then learn to step back, forget the theatricals.
Choosing to engage rather than to impress may just be the better choice when new students are looking for someone to learn from.
5:It's not where we get it from, it's who we give it to that matters
Jean Luc Godard upon being told the idea wasn't his (Whilst eating a scone and jam)
Who judges a book on the cover alone?
Is it factually correct but uses a really bad font, single spacing, and is devoid of even a single picture?
Does it send you to sleep, does it come with crayons? Do you have to colour it in?
Will it tempt you to underline a phrase or scratch it out?
Will it make you laugh or cry?
Choose your method of learning accordingly.
The solution lies not only in what is conveyed, but how.
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Contrary to popular belief, the teapotmOnk (paul read) is neither a mOnk nor a teapOt. He is, however, a writer on Tai Chi, course-creator & teacher with more than 25 years of experience. He can be found wandering between Andalucia (Spain) & Devon (Uk). More here.
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