So how does one teach Taijiquan to seniors, rehabbers, and the generally unfit? Consult the ancients, “The best leader follows.” These people are generally coming to Taiji because of a life urgency (old age, sickness, injury, etc.) which has created an opportunity for change. Experiencing the Qi maybe what their life circumstance is offering up. So you have a teachable moment. Use your Yi to lead the Qi, to lead the Li of your student body as you do in your own body.
Okay, so I need to listen, but they don’t know what to do or how to do it. Or do they? After all, the root meaning of education is to bring out that which is within. So maybe they do know, but as Emerson said, “man is God playing fool.” And from the look of it, we had the “kung” fool part of it well represented. However, how about the God gig(gle)?
Experiment – dial up God. Use your favourite Qi Gong. Preferably use a simple one like feeling the energy ball with the hands facing each other in front of the belly and play the accordion with it. Do not baby sit them, most people can feel the Qi, and you need to lead by doing. Encourage them to allow their fingers to play the keys and entertain the possibility that the toes are happy “twinkle toes” too. Take your time. Then allow participants to partner up and discuss while staying present with the feeling. Form a class circle and give the practitioners an opportunity to share with the group. Just listen, wisdom will come forth. Then maybe validate, structure, and ground the information with poetry of the masters.
I experience the Qi as a manifestation of God’s love. Attuning to the Qi allows me to do God’s work, thy will be done. Qi Gong is the basis for Taijiquan for Graceful Living (my preferred moniker for my not (yet) ready for prime time Taiji players).
Roger Whidden has been teaching martial arts continuously since 1975. His background in sports, Karate, Yoga, meditation, Taiji, and Qigong enables him to excel. Roger holds both a B.S. and M.S. degree in Education and Counseling.