5.a.xxxii.teaching-taijiquan-4-why-does-it-not-wor Section

Teaching Taijiquan 4:

Why does teaching taijiquan commonly fail

 Written by Nick Gudge (last updated August 2012)

From a pragmatic point of view the primary purpose of teaching taijiquan is to help others gain taijiquan skills. Yet the overwhelming majority of taijiquan students do not gain even rudimentary taijiquan skills. This article explores some of the reasons why most students of taijiquan fail in such a fundamental extent.

The seven most common reasons I see as to why students do not gain taijiquan skills are: 

  1. The student does not train with someone who understands what taijiquan skills are

If the teacher does not understand what taijiquan is, what hope does the student have.

  1. The student does not train with someone who has any taijiquan skills

If the teacher knows only the theory but has no skill, i.e. has not enough experience of the practice, they will not be able to explain to the student and the student will not be able to understand what to do.

  1. The student is not taught methods of acquiring taijiquan skills

Even being taught by a knowledgeable and skilled practitioner is not enough if the practitioner does not know how to teach. (Imagine trying to learn boxing from Mike Tyson or tennis from John McEnroe.) The teacher needs to have both the skills of taijiquan and teaching 

  1. The student does not understand what taijiquan is

If the student does not understand, their practice will be empty and undirected. Some progress can be made by copying correctly. However, the eyes only see the outside. Good understanding guides practice.

  1. The student does not practice sufficiently

If the student does not practice sufficiently then regardless of the quality of the teacher and their ability to understand, progress will be limited. It is considerable and persistent practice that creates the platform for increased understanding and the opportunity for developmental correction by the teacher.

  1. The student does not practice well enough

If the student does not practice diligently, calming their mind and focusing their attention appropriately then regardless of the quality of their teacher and the sufficiency of their practice, progress will be limited. The mind and body must progress together. If the mind wonders in practice, thinking about other things, family, friends, TV, work etc then it is not progressing. If the body is not stretched and the effort is not appropriate to the student’s abilty, then progress will not happen.

  1. The teacher is not interested in teaching the student

If the teacher does not want the student to learn or can’t be bothered, the student is unlikely to progress beyond a certain level. Nevertheless students can still make considerable progress with an experienced but disinterested teacher.

Nick Gudge is a student of Wang Hai Jun and teaches Chen style taijiquan (tai chi) classes in Limerick.


Other Teaching Taijiquan Articles you might be interested in:

Teaching Taijiquan 1 – Some Observations and Analysis (2 page article)

Teaching Taijiquan 2 – Motivation & Progress (2 page article)

Teaching Taijiquan 3 – Suggestions for Beginning Teaching (5 page article)

Teaching Taijiquan 5 - Effective Teaching Methods (1 page article)

Teacher’s Training Outline (3 page article)

Six Stages of Training Taijiquan Skill (4 page article)

A Good Teacher (6 page article)

Good Understanding (3 page article)

Good Practice (3 page article)


More detailed technical information can be found in the first two parts of my four part series

Gaining Taijiquan Skill – Part 1: Theory (10 page article)

Gaining Taijiquan Skill – Part 2: Beginning – reaching Level 1 (10 page article)