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The Teaching Window
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Interesting post, and makes me wonder, based on my time training with my Yang taiji shifu and seeing his way of teaching change if his window is not past. He is in his 70s, been at Yangshi taijiquan and only Yangshi taijiquan for 60 years and he can still throw me around like a rag doll. However you can no longer see many of his movements and for some of the things he taught me I had to look to Chen Style (which tends towards bigger movements than Yang) to figure out what he was doing.
And I agree, just because you have a black belt or have trained a style for many years does not mean you should or can teach it.
Some people should just never teach. This is not a knock on them just that it is not their calling.
In regards to your teacher if you can see if there is another practitioner of his that he taught to an instructor level and see if you and he could collaborate. I am sure you could show he many things and also he could in turn show you. That may help with your outlook on Yang Taijiquan. If that is not a possibility then seek out other Yang instructors maybe not to be with them long term but to get an idea or viewpoint on how they move. All of the above might help plus continuing to work with your Yang Taijiquan instructor. Then things might round into form. I know you are a long, long time practitioner so you have the experience to see the differences. I know in Budo Taijutsu if you want solid fundamentals you certainly do not go to Hatsumi. His teaching is more like a demonstration. Correction’s and in depth instruction has to come from someone else. Instead you go to someone he trained a long time ago or someone one of his Japanese Shihan has trained to instructor level. Even then you really have to be choosy!
I am his most senior student in the area and it is the more recent stuff he has shown me and it could just as easily be me as well. But I will say he does not teach his beginners like he use to and part of that is the lack of seriousness on the part of those showing up to learn but I do believe part of it is exactly what you are talking about in your post
The thing about Yang style is the longer you do it the circles get smaller and things get harder to see…and I am not getting any younger either 🙂
That is interesting. Is he the only one teaching the beginners or does he rely on you or someone else. I will say this though that when you are a very serious teacher and you have people showing up but not in a serious way that can affect you and the way you teach. In a situation like that I personally cannot have people around in they are not really serious. To many things can go wrong with what I do. This has caused me in the past to ask someone to leave. Not very often mind you but yes it has happened. There are other things as well that can some times affect a teacher. Family life, personal issues or some thing like a favorite student moving on. I can remember that I personally was dramatically affected when a student of mine left to take care of a family member. When he came to training it made my day and when he was no longer there it hurt. However, what can you do but go on and endure. There are some systems that actually have a way to deal with when a student also gets to the level of a their teacher or passes them. In one system I am a part of when that happens typically the teacher tells them it is time to go out and teach and open their own training hall. Most of the time they stay friends but once in awhile if not handled correctly they don’t. I have watched this happen a few times. Sorry to get off topic a bit.
I understand completely about the circles getting smaller and things getting harder to see. To me with my very, very limited knowledge or viewpoint in the Chinese martial arts certain systems like Taijiquan, etc. have that aspect about them and really good long term practitioners in all systems refine, refine and refine some more. 🙂
This is a response to someone on another forum who well didn’t like this post. That is okay there are a whole lot of reasons why someone might not want to hear this message. That is whether one is a student or a teacher. This blog post was meant and is meant for someone to think…. So here is basically a response to someone who did not like the post:
unfortunately I think you missed the message. At no point did I say that one’s “Teaching Window” is when you are young or athletic. Actually that is the time when students would learn the least and or be broken because a teacher more than likely has not mastered their fundamentals and is experimenting. Nor do they probably have a true understanding of the theories, elements, principles of their system. No instead the point was to show that a teacher only has so much time to be good at teaching in the Martial Sciences. One has to have a combination of the ability to show and do the fundamentals correctly with athleticism, have the ability to understand the principles and elements of their system and be also able to convey that to their students. It was also meant to show that as a teacher/practitioner ages they refine, refine, refine and that is very hard for a new student learn from unless they can still show the fundamentals in their purest athletic form. Instead a “Teaching Window” only opens for a while and for some people that might be very short or really never at all. For others it might be a long time! Some teachers should hang up and not teach unless they have a core that can help them pass on what they do. Lots of hidden messages in this blog post. I new this post would be controversial and not liked by some but frankly that doesn’t bother me! 😉
I am after all a old style, old world practitioner living in the modern age who is well up there a little in age and I can be a little cantankerous! 🙂
Nothing wrong with old style, old world and a little cantankerous