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Through Beginners Eyes

posted Sep 3, 2011, 3:50 PM by Eric Banks

For the past six weeks, I've been a beginner again.  For the past six weeks, I've been taking a seven week intro to Chen style Tai Chi! Interesting style, and I've really enjoyed taking a look at it, but what is most interesting is how I've viewed the class both as a beginner and as an instructor.  It has been 18 years since my first formal lesson in our art, so the opportunity to take a look at another style was irresistible.  

Man, that first day of Tai Chi, from the moment I woke up, until the class came and went over 14 hours later, I was stoked.  I was excited. I was downright impatient!  And when it was all done, I was not disappointed (well, except for the fact that I had to wait a full week for the next class!). Six lessons later and we've now learned the movements of a four directional form taken from a longer form.  Fun stuff.

Though the arts originated from totally different cultures, Tai Chi and Shotokan are _not that different_ at the core (no pun intended).  I really believe that all true martial arts, though they may differ

philosophically, and externally, share more points than they differ at. In fact, the instructor talked about some of the very things we've been working on in our training.

As an instructor, and as a beginner, I've found it very valuable to be able to see how an instructor from a totally different style teaches beginners.  In terms of keeping people coming back for more, I've seen some things that work and seen / felt some things that don't work that I will avoid.

Probably the most important thing of all, I was reminded that the eyes of a beginner are filled with wonder and enthusiasm; knowing this, feeling it firsthand again, helps me realize how important it is that I nurture that sense of wonder in myself, those who visit our group, our beginners and our advanced students.  

That sense of wonder is so important in everything we do, in training, in working, in living life to the fullest.  That sense of wonder is really the beginning spark that leads to greatness for those who fan the flames.  Let's fan those flames in ourselves, and in those around us.  

So with just one Tai Chi lesson left, I'm still lookin' at things, my teaching, my own training, my students, our art, through beginner's eyes.   And yes, I'm still stoked and impatient for that class to start, just like I'm stoked about each and every one of our classes!