Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Teaching Improves Every Aspect Of Your Training

This is a 2007 video of Corey and I doing the 88-movement Tai Chi Chuan San Shou fighting form. We had just learned the complete form, and we do it much better now.
The San Shou form is 44 movements each side. You have to learn both sides, and we went once-a-month for over a year to learn it from our instructor Michael Gilman. It is one of the most difficult forms I have ever learned, and hidden within it are locks, throws and pressure point techniques. Michael Gilman learned it from Jou Tsung Hwa.
We taught the form to Tom and Zac, both experianced Black Belts who picked it up pretty quickly.
However, two students from my Thursday Tai Chi class practicly begged us to teach it to them, and that task went to me. I resisted it for a long time. This form can tear your mind apart when you get hung up in the details.
Initially, Corey and I learned four moves at a time, both A and B side, doing it solo and with the partner. We are now used to working off each other's physical ques, so it just flows naturally.
Teaching the form to people who have only learned the Tai Chi Chuan long form has been quite a challenge. One person picked the A side, so the other is on B. Unfortunately, when you learn only one side at a time that side tends to be your dominant and familiar side.
Peeling this form apart, explaining every detail and keeping track of both sides in my head has reinforced every aspect of the form for me. Being able to walk the two sides through their movements as a solo form (without partner) is starting to become more clear in my mind.
So, as much as I resisted trying to teach this form to other students, even though they had the Yang long form down, I have learned a tremendous amount.
It seems that teaching the details has re-routed information through my brain in a different way. It has reminded me that teaching may be difficult, but I am not only teaching others, I'm teaching myself.


Michele said...

Thanks for sharing this video. I have a hard enough time learning a solo form...I can only imagine the difficulty of a two person form.

Jou Tsung Hwa was my Tai Chi Instructor's teacher.

Dojo Rat said...

I never met Master Jou, but he was a very good instructor I am told.
So You must have a good instructor also, I'm glad you are sticking with it!