Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Instruction Deconstruction

Since Sifu first told me to teach, I have been asked to do it several times, I even had the opportunity to teach in Austria. Yet last night was the first time I was asked to teach a basic. I was always puzzled that the first thing I taught was erluquan and not, say caijiao, but after teaching both xubu and yiluquan last night, I can say teaching a form is actually much less daunting than teaching a basic. What I realized is that, since forms are composed of basics, learning them is more about learning transitions and rhythm than learning a new movement. Teaching an yiluquan I can say, "Next you go into a pubu." and that makes sense. But teaching a xubu, or any basic, you are teaching someone an entirely new movement, asking them to move/hold their bodies in an entirely new way. And if you are bad at articulating an explanation of the move, the student can't possibly be expected to understand it. I now have an even greater respect for the people who taught me my basics and their ability to clarify each move for me as I slowly caught on. Now, I must slowly catch on to how best to teach others.

Another, un-looked for, difficulty in teaching is needing water. I have gotten a lot better about controlling my water intake, and have as yet, never asked for a break. But when teaching, all the talking aggrivates my already dry mouth to a point where my tongue is sticking to my teeth and my instructions are all but unintelligible. Perhaps it will force me to ramble less and be more concise in my instructions!


  1. This is such great insight Cheng! I never thought about it that way, but it makes complete sense!

    By the time people get to the forms, hopefully they already know the basics. But to teach someone something completely new, is even a greater daunting task.

    In addition, the beginners also have vast differences in levels of strength, flexibility, and muscle/body awareness. How do you teach someone caijiao when they can't lift their legs past their waist? Or how do you show someone with knee problems a move like gongbu or mabu?

    Daunting task indeed. I applaud all the dorks that are beginning to teach and the ones that have been teaching for awhile!

  2. I also think that teaching erluquan is easier than basics and the first two forms. The reasons I came up are that by the time you get to learn erluquan, you have already been training for a while - you have seen the form done in front of you five million times - you can't wait to try the sweep and five kicks to see what the buzz is all about - your legs and arms are conditioned - and you will get to level two if you do it well.

  3. To deal with the tongue-sticking thing, I suggest you learn to grunt expressively :-)