Originally Tai Chi was taught in secret to a select few students, the concept of Tai Chi schools did not exist.
In the past only students that were deemed to be of good character and attitude were accepted as students. If they progressed to a level that their Master deemed proficient enough, they were allowed to teach and pass the art on. The student teacher relationship was a very special one in which the student became a disciple to their teacher. They respected their teacher in much the same way as a father and son relationship, in which the son follows the father blindly and unquestionably. This relationship was usually a lifelong bond; so absolute trust and respect were paramount. This form of teaching does still exist, but is much less common nowadays. Tai Chi schools are the modern way of promoting and applying Tai Chi in the modern world.
The modern system of the Tai Chi school has helped to spread the art throughout the world. It has also helped to benefit millions of people in the health and martial aspects of this wonderful discipline. Some of the old traditions still hold true today, even in the more commercial school system. Knowledge is never asked for and is usually only taught to you when it is deemed that you are able to absorb new information sufficiently. In traditional Tai Chi even when paying the necessary fee, knowledge cannot just be bought. It can only be acquired through patience, perseverance, practice and much long study of the correct principles. When the student has reached the required level of understanding of what has already been taught.
It is permissible and absolutely necessary at times to ask questions about what has been taught to you, but never to request that you can learn something new. As Tai Chi is such a complex art and in a Tai Chi School learning times are limited to an hour or two, the instruction must be top notch for you to progress. It is easy to see how the art has been watered down and passed on sometimes partially and incorrectly, because the modern way is to keep going for something new. Tai Chi cannot be acquired in this way and must only be studied patiently and diligently.
Modern Tai Chi schools have much to offer the student so please do not be put off by the protocols that go with learning this traditional art. If you have been lucky enough to find a good teacher that has been fully versed in the art it will be worth the effort.
Good luck in finding the right Tai Chi school and teacher!
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