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Lao TzuI have been taking taiji classes for over ten years now, and practice almost every day.  I use some taiji and qi gong methods and techniques in counseling for relaxation and for learning the process of flow or wu wei (effortless effort). It has become an important part of my life, and I have learned Yang style 9, 24, and 40 form as well as Wudang 13, some fan form and am beginning to learn taiji for arthritis which is based on Sun style.

 I started teaching taiji a few months ago. If you ever want to learn an art or a skill or anything better and increase your own skills, teach it to someone else.  You really have to pay close attention to what you are doing and conceptualize it in a different.  Part of my practice is visualizing the movements.  As I explain and demonstrate the movements to a student I really have to focus on the form intensely and come up with words that describe the movement.  That also leads to some a ha moments, such as noticing how the hands and feet move together, the hips and shoulders, the elbows and knees generally move in synchronicity. A ha moments are often brought on by students’ questions and suggestions.

 Some years ago some university physics professors noticed that students were doing well on tests and could recite and use formulas, but had trouble with practical applications. It included something as simple as the classic Galileo experiment of dropping objects off the leaningTowerofPisaand objects of different sizes hit the ground at the same time. Students thought that was not the case. After all, common sense would say a cannon ball would hit the ground before a hammer when dropped from the same height, but they land in unison. The teachers eventually stopped the lectures and assigned problems to be solved to small groups of students during the class time.  The teachers moved from group to group to ask questions and help with problem solving. That is a pretty good Socratic way to teach.  The students ended up understanding concepts and principles better and were better at physics.  In a sense, they had to teach each other in a collaborative way.

 Teaching, coaching, and counseling I think work best when done in a collaborative way. And if you really want to learn something well, try teaching it.

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