Different types of Students/Benefits

in Nicholas Mann's updates

Since beginning teaching I’ve started to notice patterns in the benefits students are looking to get out of practicing Tai Chi.  There are three basic things that people are looking for when they come to my classes. The first is the student who is very interested in learning about Tai Chi. They want to be able to demonstrate the movements and also understand the theory. They show up excited to ‘learn’ something and want to get a good handle on everything they are exposed to. Next there are the exercise types of people. They are interested in practicing Tai Chi as a form of exercise. These people want a gentle form of exercise and they have heard that Tai Chi fits this description. They come to class ready to move around and be lead through movements so to increase their physical well being. Lastly there are the relaxation exercise/spiritual seekers. These people also have some preconceived notions of what Tai Chi can offer them. They come to class looking for some relaxation and distress time. They are looking to get into a meditative state for an hour or so and use the classes as a way to get away from their daily activities.

The good thing about Tai Chi is that it is suitable for all three of these types of people. The benefits of practicing Tai Chi are all of these and more. Classes are set up so that the students can focus on what ever aspect of Tai Chi they are most interested in. People often ask me “Tai Chi is relaxing right?”, and I answer yes. “Tai Chi that is martial arts right?”, and I answer yes. “Tai Chi is good exercise to increase flexibility and mobility and is easy to do right?”, again my answer to this is yes.  I think it is up to the student to decide what it is they want from Tai Chi and then come out and get it. It may take a couple of weeks of classes before they are comfortable enough with the movements to choose how they want to practice.

These three do not have to be trained in exclusion of each other either. People are often able to practice Tai Chi for all three of theses reasons. For myself some mornings I go outside to really train the movements. I’m working on a particular concept or movement and I want to become more familiar with it. Some mornings I go out to get my body in motion. I may have been away from town over the weekend and need to spend a few hours getting my body to loosen up and realign itself.  I also feel that every morning I go out I get a little me time, a little down time to focus on my movements. I use every Tai Chi session as an opportunity for me to practice concentration and relaxation. I believe being relaxed and focused are essential components to practicing anything one wants to improve in.  So although people often come to classes looking for something particular, they may find that there are many reasons one can practice Tai Chi. The key is for people to stay around long enough to get a feel for the movements. Once they are comfortable with them movements they can begin having some fun with them and use them to help them get what ever they want out of Tai Chi.

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