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Learning strategies: The art of improvisation

What happens when you don't know enough or you lost your flow? Do you stop or do you carry on?

When we're beginners, this is something that happens all the time. We haven't trained for long, we don't know much.

But what do we pause mid-form?

Well there is no magic solution here. Were you expecting a magic solution from me? You can just practise what you know or practise what little you know from the next move in the form.

Practising how little you know is and can be very tedious. I get that, because I've been there. But the great thing is, this period is a gem. Because years later, you will end up with a lot of knowledge and not a lot of time to practise all if what you've learned. To be honest, I rarely get to do every I want to do.

Should I practise what I haven't been taught?

Well there isn't a right or wrong here. Some people will do it anyway. If you read about Taiji, you're already learning outside class. You'd be making progress if you're able to make use of this knowledge, in terms of physical movements of the form. Well you've seen classmates practise moves you've not yet learnt properly. If you can imitate those moves, well that's great. Will your teacher mind? Some do, but I'm easy on this. You're learning and as a teacher I'll not only correct you, but how to do it better. If you have a gist of what the moves are, probably because you've not learnt that move before or you've forgotten. It's fine to improvise. Even if it's incorrect, the key is, that you're keeping yourself moving. Then come to class and ask. It's important to keep moving and keep the flow going.

Improvisation for advanced practitioners

Improvisation is not just for beginners. Advanced students should keep Improvisation in mind. I'll give you an example. I've messed up some forms in competitions, yet ended up on the podium. How did that happen? I improvised and carried on doing what I do and make it all link up. Sure, the judges might know, but points are awarded based on the quality of the movements. And not the completeness of the forms. I've messed up forms in demonstrations before, but it went well, because I Improvised.

Sometimes, you don't always the right experience, skillset or equipment. But try and do what you can. Good art have been created with this kind of mindset.If you're not Improvising, why not give it a go?

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