I often gets enquiries from new comers over the phone. They tend to ask two general types of question: “How fit do I have to be to do the class?” and “What style of Tai Chi do you teach?”. On the face of it, these questions might seem valid, but in the majority of cases these people don’t ever turn up for a class. So what’s going on here?
What really underlies these questions is fear. The ‘how fit’ question is really about thinking that you’re too unfit, too busy, too old, too uncoordinated etc. Mainly it’s fear of looking like an idiot in a class full of ‘honed’ martial artists. The fear of the unknown. If you can’t overcome this fear then you’ll always be making excuses to yourself. The biggest lesson you can learn is that everyone, talented or talentless, all had a first class. They all had to start somewhere. EVERYONE HAS A FIRST CLASS! Other people live their lives and you live yours. What they do has got nothing to do with you. Likewise, if you go to a class and feel intimidated then you’re comparing yourself with others. Again, how does what they do or how they look affect you? If you’re looking at others then you’re taking your eyes off your own way, your own path. The best way to overcome this fear is to just go to a class. It won’t kill you and you’ll be sorry that you fooled yourself for so long in not going.
Talent is a very overrated quality. The likes of Mozart may have had innate natural ability but he was worked day and night by his father. Talented people only succeed when it’s combined with outstanding tuition and vast amounts of hard work. Over the 30 or so years of teaching I’ve seen many exceptional people just drop out. They simply don’t have the stamina or perseverance to continue; if anything it’s too easy. It’s the trials and tribulations of having to overcome something within you – some weakness - that keeps you coming back for more. If an endeavour is easy then it means nothing too you when you overcome it. You’re defined as a human being, to the only person it matters – you – by the struggle. The gem that’s Robert Silverberg’s novel ‘The Book of Skulls’ gives some insight into this.
The “What style of Tai Chi do you teach?” is an interesting question. What’s really here is a statement not a question as it’s usually followed up by “Well, I’ve been doing x number of years of y’s system”. It’s not a question about the system at the Rose Li School (all the information you’re likely to need is on the website) but rather someone wanting reassurance that they won’t be out of place in the class environment. Again fear – the ego - underlies what’s going on. You have to be out of your comfort zone if you’re ever to learn anything. This is what is meant by always having a beginners mind. Another type of beginner's questions is - do you do things that are self-defence orientated? or do you do sparing? I 'll answer these questions with one sentence: the School teaches the whole, complete Chinese Internal Martial Arts system.
So, in the end, just go to a class. If you like it and it’s for you then fine. If not, at least you’ll be a little wiser.