In everyone’s mirror they see a nice version of themselves. No one sees themselves as flawed even as their eyes observe the contrary. Yet, if we refuse to see reality we cannot change our shortcomings for the better.
My student insists that he is sticking to doing a movement the right way, the way I taught him. I pointed out that it is his perception that he is doing is the right way because from where I am standing seeing it he is not doing it the right way. In fact, he is doing what my own teacher used to say about my learning – discarding all the good things and retaining the bad habits.
The great thing about learning Tai Chi is that a lot of things, at the beginner’s level anyway is objective in that the principles lead the way. As long as you observe them you are right and the movements will mirror the correctness. Lose the principles and the movements will come off funny even as it seems correct to the beginner. If there are still doubts they will no longer exist when put to tests of structure and applications.
So the moral of the lesson is if you want to master Tai Chi Chuan find the right amongst the wrongs. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Make them. Learn from them. Open up your mind to possibilities. Observe the principles, never lose them and never change them unless you can still retain the overall picture of what the art is. Yet remember that even as the techniques are expressed differently the principles remain the same. This is what is meant by the phrase that all Tai Chi styles are but one family.