chi kung

How to become a good student


However there are a few things more I would eventually like to find in a teacher. First of all, he only teaches once a week. So although I can practice everyday, I cannot tap his knowledge as swiftly as I would like to. Secondly, because he does not advertise, his classes are fairly small and I have been unable to find a committed training partner which, although it is not necessary, is mutually beneficial for many reasons.

-- Clayton, USA


It is highly recommendable to learn from a good master. But first you must examine whether you are a deserving student. If you expect a master to teach you free or at a low price, as often as you want and in ways you like, then you are most undeserving.

Great masters — just as other great professionals like top doctors and top footballers — charge high fees, in cash or in kind. In the past students pay their high fees in kind by working for and serving their masters full time. It is ridiculous that so many people today, especially in the West, think that if they want to learn, a master must teach them, often in ways they like.

Even when students worked for and stayed with their master, he did not teach them everyday, nor act as a source of knowledge for them to tap. The students would have to practice very hard everyday, often on their own, and if they slacked or made mistakes the master would come after them with a cane. He would teach them once a while, typically once a few days and sometimes once after a few months.

If the students asked questions or intellectualized on their training, the master would ask them to shut up and do as he told them to. If they tried to improvise their training with their own ideas or techniques from other schools, they would get a scolding, if not a beating, from their master.

If you think the master was harsh, you are mistaken. He was most kind. His students, if they followed the master's teaching devotedly, would surely become masters one day.

Having a training partner is a helpful but not an essential requirement. There are three fundamental requirements to mastery in kungfu, including Taijiquan, namely the method, the teacher and the student. If you want great achievement, you have to seek the best method and the best teacher available.

If your method is inferior, such as merely training your physical body, and your teacher mediocre, such as not knowing how to help you develop internal force, you cannot attain good results even if you practice everyday for many years.

But the most important factor is the student. If he, usually implicitly, wants his teacher to teach him what, how and when he wants to learn, he is unlikely to have good results. Without him knowing, he implies that he is smarter than his teacher.

The above is taken from Question 5 of April 2002 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.


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