Should You Teach

So, let's assume that you have put in your time as a beginner and intermediate level student, and after 3—5 years you have some experience helping your instructor to coach the newer students, and you find that you have some interest or aptitude for teaching on your own—with or without your teacher's formal blessing.

It is always courteous to ask your teacher if you have his or her permission to start classes on your own, though courtesy seems to be a dying art and politically incorrect these days. Failing to do so with a more traditionally-minded teacher can have repercussions. (Being ignored from then on as part of his or her "martial arts family" is the mildest and most common.) It also makes sense to be part of a larger organisation to be seen as legitimate by potential students although the bagua/Chinese internal arts world is full of fascinating loners as well.

As a teaching novice, there are lots of things to consider: teaching yet another group of beginners who don't look as if they can lift the tv remote control, much less balance briefly on one leg; trying to find the time and energy to practise for yourself, either during class or after, having spent much time teaching basics to others; maintaining your enthusiasm when only one or two students bother to make an appearance at a group class.

Whoops! Those were some of the many reasons not to teach. Seriously though, teaching can teach the teacher many valuable lessons about his or her own understanding of the art. It is one thing is to be able to do a form or training method, quite another—to explain and demonstrate your performance in such a way that you help someone else along the same path you have followed. In the old days, you wouldn't have dared to teach without the permission of a respected, long-term instructor. For many reasons today, this is rarely the case.

Unless you are fortunate enough to be under the supervision of a competent instructor in a group of some size and quality, there is also the issue of often having to create your own training partners to be able to practise the two-person methods and forms.

Deciding that you are ready and want to start teaching is one thing, adjusting to being the role model instead of a student is another.

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