Very much so. Once my language skill improved I could listen to a Tai Ji or Ba Gua teacher and really understand what they were saying. If you learned the physical movements themselves, that was one thing. But to go deeper you really had to get involved in asking questions. If the teacher begins to talk about internal energy and you don't have those words in your vocabulary and a very good understanding of them in Chinese, it makes it very difficult to follow. I think if someone were to go over there to study and did not know Chinese, they would get in trouble right away unless they stayed with a Shaolin tradition. Of course a certain depth of knowledge in previous practice helps.
One thing to do if you don't know Chinese well is to find a good translator. When I first got there I would often go to class with someone who knew the language much better than I did and have him help me.
Was this article helpful?