The process of becoming a T’ai Chi Chih teacher helps make our practice stronger, more accurate, and of more benefit to ourselves as well as future students. It’s also a process supported by members of the TCC community worldwide, bringing new friends and surprises along the way.
Passing The Test
by SQ, Poinciana, FL
What in the world should we do to prepare to attend a T’ai Chi Chih teacher accreditation course? In my case I live in Florida, and my first teacher, AV, had moved to Costa Rica, so I had no teacher nearby. Yet I wanted to do my utmost to be well prepared to go through the rigorous accreditation process.
I’m one of those people who didn’t plan on becoming a teacher for a while. But after AV moved and my connection to Zen Buddhism changed, I realized at the end of 2013 that our community would benefit greatly from having a teacher. So I told AV, who was very pleased, and I figured out my next best steps.
I had practiced for seven years (and daily for the last two) and also had a small group with whom I practiced weekly. That approach gave me grounding from which to work. Looking ahead, I decided to attend A’s Santa Barbara retreat in March 2014. When I first inquired, though, the retreat was already booked. Two weeks later PT let me know that there was a cancellation; I could attend and was very excited. I had also talked to an accredited teacher-friend, KG, in southern California about being my second-signature. I didn’t appreciate (initially) that she actually needed to see how well I knew the movements. She decided to attend the same March retreat (bless her).
At the retreat I told A and P that I would take all the feedback I could get because I wanted to register for the accreditation course in May. (Retreats aren’t designed for this purpose.) I received lots of feedback not only from P and A, but from all the teachers attending. That was the upside. The downside was that I realized I had a long way to go, and that I would not be ready for accreditation in May. I also realized that there was really no need to hurry.
Meanwhile, I convinced K that she was my best choice as a second teacher. She hadn’t previously taught long-distance (via Skype), so she was hesitant but finally consented. We had a wonderful time working together. Beginning in March, we worked together every second week: she gave me specific and insightful feedback. In between lessons I practiced twice a day, in the morning and evening, and studied my reflection in a sliding glass door. Her skill at giving just the right kind and amount of feedback suited me beautifully. I also continued meeting with my weekly group. My practice deepened and became more refined; I was enjoying it more than ever. Instead of attending the May accreditation, I went to a May intensive and received even more feedback. By the end, I believed I would be ready to attend the next accreditation in California in October.
In mid-summer K suggested we Skype weekly; I concurred. She also recommended that I schedule a Skype session with P to receive further input on my progress; that was very helpful. I also realized I could ask my husband, J, for some coaching. He practices T’ai Chi Ch’uan and could see the relationship between our practices; he also understands what the tan t’ien is. I would share the feedback K gave, and J did a wonderful job helping me integrate the changes during the rest of the week. Imagine my surprise when he told me I wasn’t moving from the tan t’ien and that my head should not be turning. We actually had a fun time working together; every evening at 7 p.m., he would ask, “Ready?” and I would change into my practice shoes.
Three weeks before accreditation, I had a minor meltdown wondering if I would be ready. My Zen training reminded me that these were just thoughts, and I allowed myself to feel my fear and just kept working. With encouraging words from K, A, and J, I moved forward.
This past week, I became accredited. I’m very excited about being a part of the TCC community and being able to offer my services to my own community here in Florida. My thanks to everyone, including P (our teacher trainer) for all the love and support, and for this wonderful opportunity.
SQ is a TCC teacher in Poinciana, Florida. Her story is reprinted with permission from the November 2014 issue of The Vital Force journal.