Saturday, March 10, 2012

Four Stages of Mastering Tai Chi


A number of years ago, when Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense for President Bush, he talked about knowledge and unknowns. He was ridiculed by the partisan, politicized press, but I decided to write about what he said and put in terms of learning tai chi.

1. Unconscious lack of knowledge
At this stage of learning tai chi, you don't know anything and don't know you don't know anything. This is usually because you have never heard of tai chi or have only passing knowledge. You have never actually attempted to learn it.

2. Conscious lack of knowledge
At this stage of learning tai chi, you have taken a few classes or a few months of classes. You are starting to see that there is a lot you don't know. At this stage, you need to decide that you want to take the path of mastery and spend some time and effort to learn more.

3. Conscious knowledge
At this stage of learning tai chi, you have spent some time practicing and reading. You are starting to know what you know and what you don't know. However, be aware that you probably don't know as much as you think you do. I have had students tell me that they know all about a certain topic because of something they read or heard. It's generally not a good idea to tell that to your teacher.

4. Unconscious knowledge
At this stage of learning tai chi, you have been practicing and studying (and thinking) for a long time. You are starting to think that there is always more to learn about this art than you can learn in a lifetime. However, other people observe you and see that you flow effortlessly through your forms. You have achieved a high level of mastery, yet you think mostly about what you don't know. You forget about what you have already learned so well.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

© 2012 Eric Borreson