You can’t teach a skill in Tai Chi

It is impossible to teach a skill. You can only teach the way.Chen Yingjun

Master Chen Yingjun told me that when we were talking about teaching Taijiquan (Tai Chi), as i was opening my first class. It’s actually curious the usual mindset is that one goes to class to acquire knowledge. This could derive from a consumerism-based culture – as if it were possible to buy knowledge. This mindset can contaminate the mass education system in some places, when the appearance of going to class and paying for tuition is seen as enough for graduating on some subject.

In a traditional art such as Taijiquan (Tai Chi), it doesn’t work like that. Knowledge is transmitted through a master-disciple relationship (here i don’t mean “master” as a skill level, but as a role in the knowledge transmission setting). One does not go to a Taijiquan (Tai Chi) class to acquire knowledge, rather to learn how to practice.
What is taught is how to cultivate knowledge, how to practice. It is only possible to point to the way, and help the student correct his deviations, however it is only through practice that new understanding about the art can be reached. This is so because Taijiquan (Tai Chi) is a principles-based art, not just a collection of techniques.