These guidelines apply to our classes; but you will find they
are particularly valuable when you study with other teachers
or visit other schools.
1. Arrive on time for class. Conscientious
students arrive a little early (if the space is open) and
clean, clear, sweep, rake or tidy up. If class has not yet
begun, students may engage in individual practice of forms
or warm-ups from that class or teacher.
2. Honor the space of teaching with a bow
on entering and leaving.
3. Honor the art and all who have contributed
to it in the person of your teacher. Bowing to the teacher
is appropriate as a greeting when the teacher enters the class
space, as an acknowledgment, a “thank you” for teaching, or
a courtesy on parting. With every bow, you also honor your
4. Come to class, and especially to another
teacher’s class or workshop, with an open mind: “an empty
teacup.” Suspend your skepticism, preconceptions, or prejudices
and cultivate modesty. Check your mental “baggage” at the
door: you can pick it up on your way out if you still want
5. Turn off your cell phone and all alarm/chime
functions on your watch or other devices before class. If
you absolutely must remain available, you may leave your phone
or pager on “vibrate” as long as it is not audible. If you
leave class to answer a call, bow out discreetly. If you return,
wait for the teacher to bow you back in.
6. If class starts with a circle or other
set formation and you arrive late, do not barge in or cause
other students to feel they must make room for you. Stand
outside the circle or group and participate in the exercises;
do not do your own warm-ups. The teacher will take a break
between exercises and invite you in.
7. Set an example of focus and attentiveness.
Even if the material seems familiar, class is a learning opportunity
for you as well as for those with less experience.
8. Continue practicing a given exercise
until the teacher is ready for the class to move on. This
attitude of perseverance develops devotion, and earns respect
and personal attention.
9. Keep an eye on the teacher during form
practice for refinements and variations. This is what class
is for, even if sometimes you have to look over your shoulder.
10. Be aware of “group qi (ch’i)”: the shared energy of individuals who
voluntarily harmonize with one another. If you allow yourself
to match the timing and spacing of others around you, “group
qi” can reinforce and augment your personal
qi and increase your sensitivity.
11. Avoid correcting, teaching, or conversing
with other students during class. If the teacher divides the
class into small groups, however, you may share personal insights
and observations to help others in your group-- but be sure
to allow others the same opportunity!
12. It is school policy that no one may
be touched without their permission. Teachers will generally
announce their intention to make respectful hands-on corrections
only once to a class; they then rely on individual students
who might not wish to be touched to state that preference.
A student should not attempt to physically correct another
student without first receiving both their consent and the
13. Assume that whatever is happening at
every moment is for your personal benefit. A comment or exercise
introduced to the class as a whole may be especially directed
toward a single student, and be exactly what that student
needs at that time. That student might be you. A single word
or gesture could be worth the cost of an entire course.
14. Assist others in acquiring certain skills
when asked to do so by the teacher. This is for your own development
as much as for those you are helping.
15. Help your classmates, your Taiji brothers
and sisters, by getting together outside of class to practice,
share, and encourage one another.
16. On your own, practice whatever you remember,
as much as you remember, whenever you like, as often as you
can. Even if you feel it might be “incorrect,” practicing
something is better than just waiting till the next class.
17. Notify the teacher each time you cannot
attend a class, any time events or injuries are affecting
your Taijiquan practice, or if you plan to discontinue study.
18. Taijiquan study progresses in a spiral,
along which the same material is encountered again and again
at higher levels. Taking a form course once is not enough.
19. As devotion to this art deepens and
desire for personal improvement increases, students are expected
to request private lessons every so often-- especially after
completing a form.
20. As Laoshi Paul Gallagher says in Filling the Teacup, The Little Known
Art of Chinese Etiquette:
“In older times...cash was not the usual medium of exchange.
Still, no student would even think of accepting instruction
without a return of some kind. At times, if a student did
have cash, a master might be given a red envelope full of
money. This would be considered more appropriate than simply
handing cash directly. Some...teachers, even today, like to
be given a financial token of respect in a red envelope.”
Money is a symbolic
form of qi. It represents a medium of exchange of the vital
force of one person for the energy of another. In our culture,
it is easier for students to pay a set price than to enter
into the complexities of guanxi
(relationships of obligation and influence in Chinese
society). Nevertheless, money balances the account between
teacher and student only if the student is satisfied with
remaining at the most basic level of the art.
Proper and discrete
handling of money is a way of showing respect for the teaching.
Money, whether check or cash, should be placed in a “hong
bao” (red envelope). Regular envelopes are also
acceptable. Checks should be written in advance—don’t make
the teacher wait while you write your check. If paying in
cash, be sure to mark the envelope, or insert a note, with
your name and the class(es) or date of the lesson you are
paying for. If you would like a receipt, you should provide
one for the teacher to sign.
Payment up front,
before instruction begins, is preferred-- whether for single
classes, a series, or a private lesson. This is simple courtesy:
fill the teacher’s cup instead of waiting until the teacher
fills yours. It settles the question of compensation so that
both teacher and student can concentrate on the instruction.
We understand cash flow problems and allow students to pay
in installments for a slightly higher total fee. Please accept
responsibility for keeping track of the installments you owe
and the dates due. If you can only attend class sporadically
you should pay the higher price for single classes.
who cannot currently afford class fees may be permitted to
defer payment or make other arrangements with their instructor.
Barter or work-study may be acceptable forms of payment if
the instructor agrees to accept what you have to offer. Even
so, in most cases, the School asks these students to pay a
percentage of the fee in cash.
21. As a courtesy, consult with your teacher
regarding things related to your study, such as: questions,
difficulties, or experiences; if you are thinking of studying
another art or with another teacher; if you plan to perform
in a public exhibition or tournament; if you are considering
the use of videotapes to supplement your learning; or if you
have a “different idea” regarding a principle or form. Talk
22. Completion of a course or the ability
to perform a form are not sufficient qualifications to teach.
Assisting in classes can be part of preparing to teach. Discuss
teaching with your teacher before you attempt to do so.