This week, I want to share an amusing anecdote about just how simple it can be to get an important point across – and how in Tai Chi that theory is no substitute for a proper demonstration!

During every class, I normally take a bit of time to focus on corrections: looking at the form move by move, and pointing out key areas that need adjusting. Last night, we ended up focusing on the transition from ward off left to ward off right. During the transition, the right arm is meant to come straight up the side of the body, but there were plenty of arms pointing out to the right instead as they came up.

Well, I tried everything I could think of (which wasn’t much), and ended up just confusing matters further by getting into the theory behind open door / closed door. Eventually I had to just give it up and move on, but not before I promised the class that I’d do my best to come up with another way of explaining this particular move.

When I got home after the class, I talked to my wife about my bad experience that evening. I don’t like it when I fail my students like that, and I was determined to keep my promise to find an alternative way to get my point across. I was in the kitchen at the time doing the ironing, with my wife leaning in the doorway. Suddenly, her face lit up, and she mimiced my description of the move that I’d tried too hard to correct in class. Her right arm came up and out to the right, and promptly banged into the door frame.

“Get them to play the move in a doorway,” she beamed. “Then they’ll get it.”

Now how’s that for the perfect simplicity? 🙂 I’ll let you know next week whether it worked or not.