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Being honest about progress

Students often ask me about their progress. This isn't a problem for me, as I often give feedback and advice on how to do things better. As the teacher, I can only do so much. As the cliché goes, the teacher opens the door, but you will have to walk through it. That is, I can show you how to do it, but you have to do the rest.

I can teach you every trick in the book and yet you will not get it. I can simplify it and yet it will not make a difference. Why is this? Is it because you aren't ready or because you aren't paying attention.

Do you struggle in class?

Everybody struggles, but many find a way to deal with challenges. Why people progress is down to mindset, problem solving skills and the willingness to open minds and eyes. Students may expect to make progress fast, but don't understand why they can't achieve progress. There are hints and tips, but they want to do it their own way. There are ways to do something and it can't be mastered in the space of a few lesson. Be patient and you will discover the different Tai Chi makes. Slow progress is progress and there's no need to out-do other students. By investing time and energy by competing unnecessarily, you add pressure to yourself.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about struggling. The reality is, everybody has been there and you're not alone. When you're ready, you'll get there and you'll get it.

Who do I blame?

Perhaps you should point the finger at yourself first. Did you manage your own expectations? A teacher can only teach you so much and they have to put in the time and effort to put into action what you've learned. Changing clubs probably isn't the answer, especially if you've not worked out what is holding you back, the scenario will only repeat itself. The blame should also go to the teacher. Has the teacher done enough to support you? A good teacher in any field is hard to find. Just because you've been given a recommendation, don't think for a moment they are the one for you. In recent years, there are more people teaching Tai Chi. That means there's choice, but not necessarily quality. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to measure quality. Success in competitions can be seen as a sign of quality. However, that doesn't make them good teachers. Watch more people do demonstrations and see what is good and what isn't. Personally, if my own forms aren't up to scratch, I shouldn't be teaching. You're charging people money, so how is this right?

Why do some people thrive?

The simple truth is that people thrive in the right environment. The right environment for me, doesn't make it the right environment for you. You also need motivation and seek answers. I did a lot of my learning outside class. If you rely on being spoon fed and then find that you're not making progress, then the problem is yourself. Perhaps consider finding a teacher and a club that can genuinely support you. The best people I've trained with are those who encourage you, support you and who help you progress. Unfortunately, they aren't always the ones nearest you. These people don't even need to be in the same lineage as you, or even the same style. Those who jump from club will never truly progress. Why? Because learning is about consistency and the effort you invest. Did your training work? If not, why not? Ask questions and and seek answers. Some of those answers are actually within yourself. Why not do demo in public or compete in a competition. You could those experiences as a way to measure your progress. At the end of the day, your training doesn't lie.

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