I challenged my student’s assumptions of learning Tai Chi Chuan and he turned around to bite me by asking if what I said is the case why can’t he do Step Up, Parry, Punch with a half step.
I said indeed why not. Then he took another bite by saying that he had asked previously but I said that he should not do so. And yes, that indeed is the case too.
I said that for beginners there is no point to doing Step Up, Parry, Punch with a half step despite the obvious benefit. The reason is that simply if a beginner cannot even connect the punching arm properly to the lower body when moving less what are the chances that he can do so when moving more.
But for a more advanced student the story is different. Once the body is connected doing a half step has its benefits. This is why we learn the Yang long form to understand basic connection, the straight sword for more refined connections and then we do the Wu / Hao form in which the Step Up, Parry, Punch is done with a half step and not just a slow step but a speedy, fast one. This is not to mention that one mastery is there one can do the technique in a few more other ways.
So there is a method behind the madness. But alas, today’s students are impatient and thinking they are smarter than even the teacher with the proliferation of information out there on the internet. However, it is not without reason that traditionally it is said that an old timer would have eaten even more salt than a young pup.
In TaijiKinesis we don’t ask the student to learn blindly or even worship the ancestors in a cult-like manner. In fact, normally I don’t even want them to know who the ancestors are because it is too easy to fall under the spell of worshipping the ancestors and enslave ourselves in the process. Like some of my teachers would say the ancestors are the ancestors, they have nothing to do with us. No point blindly worshipping them unless you can do what they can do.
Otherwise, sure it is easy to claim that one is the disciple, blah, blah, blah of a famous master but if one’s skill is not there then it would be a great shame and bring dishonor to the lineage, more so if one tries to be smart and is shown up in public by another lineage. And if this shame is accompanied by video proof then it is a pity and the entire lineage is tarnished.
It is easy to claim that a wrong is a right by continuing to make claims and teach despite one’s shortcomings because as PT Barnum would say a sucker is born every day. If one thing we should be smart about above all, it is not to fall for such things. This is why it is important that the student’s assumptions be constantly challenged. Only then would traditional Chinese martial arts survive into the future.