Due to time and space constraints, our courses are by no means fully traditional, however we do include an element of traditional training. This is a very different way of teaching and learning than is usually found in the West. It can be somewhat puzzling at the beginning, however it is a very effective way of developing real depth of knowledge in a relatively short period of time.
Role of the teacher
In traditional training, the role of the teacher is to teach, not to demonstrate, train with the students or entertain them. What does this mean? Real knowledge comes from developing one’s understanding, not from basic memorising of facts. A teacher therefore asks you to do things which will open your mind to new ways of thinking. They will give you a set of questions to be pondered, not a set of answers.
Initially, this might be somewhat puzzling to students who are not used to this kind of teaching. For example, they may be asked to copy a complex movement or technique that the teacher only shows once or twice with no further explanation, or that seems physically impossible to perform – they might wonder how they are meant to do this. Sometimes the teacher may only say a few words during the whole class, or sometimes they may speak extensively on a subject that is seemingly irrelevant. Sometimes the teacher may say something in one class, only to say the exact opposite at the following one.
Rest assured that anything the teacher does is carefully thought through to open up new areas of learning in the students. Their aim is to give a real understanding of the material. This will probably be challenging on some level, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, precisely because the student is being asked to think and behave in ways they have never done before.
Initally, students may leave classes more puzzled than they were before, with more questions in their mind. This is good, it is a normal part of the learning process. Through pondering these questions and practicing these seemingly impossible techniques over a certain length of time, a deeper understanding starts to emerge – answers become obvious, movements become simpler, areas that seemed unrelated at first now appear central to the area of study. As everything falls into place, real understanding emerges.
A teacher will never cover material just for the sake of it. Every technique or movement that they teach contains many layers of understanding and has the potential to change your understanding of the world in many wonderful ways. It is better to only understand one movement in a lot of depth than to cover a whole set of movements superficially. Giving the material away superficially without attempting to show the students the marvels hidden in it is doing them a disservice – robbing them of these opportunities to learn.
Role of the students
Traditional teaching offers a great potential to develop deep understanding relatively quickly. What determines how much a student learns is their own attitude towards the training and their desire to understand the material.
The role of the student in traditional training is simple: to do whatever is necessary for them to learn. This starts with listening in class and paying close attention to what the teacher says. Especially if the teacher only says a few words, the exact words that are chosen might be important and must be remembered and put into practice.
However this is only the beginning, memorising in itself is only a preliminary step. The student must then strive to think and analyse the information, understanding exactly what the teacher meant, creating links with information from the teacher’s other classes – if this is not immediately obvious, the student might need to sit with the information for a while until some answers come up. Especially if something seems paradoxical or unrelated, the student should see this as an opportunity to refine their understanding by appreciating the nuances that the teacher is attempting to transmit to them.
It is expected of the students that they will train and practise to the best of their abilities. If they are slightly unsure as to what to do in class, they must still do what they think is best. This in itself is an important step in the learning process, allowing them to take responsibility for their learning. It will also pinpoint to them what they know and don’t know, which will enable them to learn further.
What a student can learn overall from traditional training has the potential to fundamentally change the way they see just about everything in life. The more effort a student puts into their training, the more they will get out of it.
At Tuina Development Courses, we strive to make our teachings accessible to any student who chooses to train with us, and we go to great lengths to ensure that every student has a fulfilling experience of our courses. We also include the traditional starting point that our students are intelligent and motivated people who have the desire and ability to learn something to high standards, and we do our best to help them achieve those high standards.