Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Teachers!

This jpg. came out blue for some reason.
The actual certificate is as red as this text...

It is my pleasure to announce that I recently gave Teaching Certificates to five of my students. They are: my wife Samarra Burnett, Neil Buettner, Benjamin Grunde, John Michael Greer, and John Soares. Samarra, Neil and Ben all live in Ashland and may teach in some capacity around here. John Michael is moving from Ashland to Cumberland, Maryland this Summer and plans to teach there. John Soares lives in Mount Shasta and may teach down there.

Every teacher has to come up with their own criteria for giving people permission or their blessing to teach. Some teachers require that the student know their entire system inside and out, including all the forms within that system. Some require that the student take over some classes and get years of teaching experience under their belts. Some teachers charge quite a bit of money when they issue teaching certificates. There are valid reasons for requiring all of the above and more. But for me the important issues are summed up in what we as a group came up with for the text of the certificate:

This is to certify that


has reached the stage in his/her study of the Symmetrical Old Yang T’ai-Chi Style of Tchoung Ta-Tchen where teaching may become part of that study. He/She has shown consistent and demonstrable understanding of the core T’ai-Chi principle of cultivating unforced balance in action – including the Bone, Muscle, Energy, and Spirit levels of work – and has shown consistency in both the form and content of T’ai-Chi practice. Therefore, I proudly issue this teaching certificate to him/her on this

29th day of July, 2009.

(The certificates also include an approximate lineage and a red yin/yang symbol.)

In my opinion, each of these five students has met the above standards and are indeed ready to include teaching in their study of T'ai-Chi. Some know more of the forms in this system than others, and each of course, has their own strengths and weaknesses, but I'm proud of all of them and wish them well on as much of the teaching journey as they choose to take on.

We met several times as a group to discuss different aspects of teaching and what the contents of the certificates would be. In the spirit of the way I was taught by my teacher Andy Dale, there was no charge for the certification process, nor are teachers "under" me expected or required to send me a percentage of what they earn as teachers.

I am, like Andy, inspired primarily by my love of the art and particularly by the cultivation of "unforced balance in action." Expert masters are wonderful, but what I personally value and encourage most is simply the ability to help people live less forceful lives, lives more in tune with what's going on, in and around them. I sincerely believe that helping people with simple things like having better posture, breathing in a more relaxed way, having more spring in their legs, improving their ability to respond physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to the world around them is vastly more important and needed than helping people do a jumping high kick, adopt super low stances or punch a hole through a wall.

To sum it up simply: what I love to do most and what I hope these five new teachers will love to do as well, is to help people to flow more and force less.

Congratulations John, John Michael, Samarra, Neil and Ben!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Samarra!

    Gene, I really liked your position on certification. Well said.

    -Dan Pasco