banner in person

We have many details and requirements in this Chen Taijiquan and I see that as a great strength. However, when people try to make everything right it can be a bit inhibiting and the strength of having much to offer can actually become a weakness. I sometimes see that students will try so hard to do everything right that they do not see anymore why we are doing it a certain way. And they don't realise if they are actually doing it right as they don't have anything to contrast the practice with.


It is a bit like the thought from differential learning to encourage errors (though actually I wouldn't go quite that far in Taijiquan). I think a completely "libertine" kind of training does not make sense if you want to learn Taijiquan. But I think we should be endorsing mistakes so we can actually make a difference. We learn to actually do things right and not only think we do them right. So when I teach and I have one of my better days I might lead students through the process of...  

- comprehension
- feeling
- skill

For example, I will often explain something and then say that my students should test what I teach: "Just do the exact opposite of what I teach and then check what is happening to your body", e.g. what happens when the knee goes out too much, what happens when the eyes don't look that way, have no peng jin here or there, what happens to the forces in the body etc. Thus we can learn to understand the concept (comprehension) and then connect our kinesthetics with that concept (feeling). When we have experienced a mistake we can really start to let it go (and develop skill). Otherwise we might sometimes think we are not making a mistake - just because we don't notice it.  

Of course, there are many tools we can employ in Chen Taijiquan, like manually correcting someone, "moulding the frame" 捏架子 nie jiazi. And in total our tools really lead to good development. But even with something like "moulding the frame" we can go through the above learning process. We can show something so the student understands and make him or her feel the difference. But I have also seen many people become very reliant on corrections from their teachers which they cannot duplicate as they don't undertand it. Just trying to duplicate a feeling will not help as feelings are too "flighty" by themselves. They need to be anchored and flanked by conceptual comprehension and skill. Thus a manual correction without helping to make people understand the correction does not really help in the long run. You can endlessly correct someone and make them totally reliant on you, but then a correction hasn't really deserved its name... as there is no development. 

Understanding mistakes helps to empower people so they can get rid of their mistakes and they will understand the methods of Taijiquan practice. 

I thought this post would be nice to start 2022. Happy New Year to all of you out there!🧨

Add to List