A T'ai Chi Union Instructor Assessment
Having joined the Tai Chi Union Of Great Britain as an Associate Member in 2009, I decided to take the plunge and apply for Instructor membership. It wasn't I particularly want to be an instructor (A sceptic might point out there are already far to many Chiefs and not enough Indians) it was my own changing circumstances.
My main Instructor was retiring, my wife insisted I need to get out of the house more and suddenly I discovered a requirement to get some insurance (I'd taken up the sword and it was getting increasingly nerve racking waving a double edged blade around a class of over sixties). My wife suggested I put up barrier tape, but that ruined the ambiance.
So, having applied for Instructor membership I received back a very polite letter telling me they couldn't count the opinions of people I had named as my instructors as they were not registered with the Tai Chi Union (Damn that chicken and egg). So.. I could either find a current Instructor to back me with a signature, take an assessment or SEND IN A DVD. I say SEND IN A DVD.
Now, I'm not a mixer so finding a current instructor in the 103 hand form to do me a favour seemed a bit wet. Regarding the sending in of a DVD, in your dreams!
Having filmed myself once I discovered far from the elegant swan I assumed myself to be, I looked like some old bloke stomping about in the snow. (I accept wearing the flat cap was a mistake).
So the assessment option seemed the only option. If somebody asked me to do an assessment on another persons ability I'd be a bit mystified. How do you do that then? This was apparently a problem the Union may also have had because it was a few days before a chap did step up. That Chap being Robert Agar-Hutton who set a date for the assessment in December.
From that point on I practised like a mad man, even madder than usual. Having Googled Robert he had a very similar background and was a Hard stylist who had also embraced Tai Chi. Definitely an all rounder compared to my one trick pony background. We had previously spoken on the phone and he seemed a genuine chap. For a month I hit the mats, sit up, press ups, jogging, applications, the full hard / soft works. Then I went shopping with the wife and kids and detached my retina.
Man Down! Four days later I was in the operating theatre with clear instructions not to move without warning the surgeon, so he could remove the surgical instruments from my eye. I didn't move, I was too busy praying. Following that I was wheeled to a hospital bed and told "Don't move" for seven days.
I asked the consultant to clarify what he meant by "Don't move?
"Well," he said "If you value your sight, don't move your eyes because your other eye will probably go the same way..and keep your cheek to the pillow at all times."
"So what about going to the toilet?" I enquired.
"Do your best." he said.
So I stopped eating and didn't move. My wife came in and I said two things to her. "Don't leave me." and "Cancel the assessment."
Seven days is a long time to spend not moving. I discovered with my back to a full ward I could break wind continually with no guilt at all. But I hadn't realised how full it was until on the eighth day I finally sat up. At least I hadn't been a screamer.
So fast forward to January, I re-contacted Robert and we met for the assessment. No press ups, no sit ups, no break falls. Just straight Tai Chi. We covered Chi Gung, The Form, Applications, history, swapped stories and had a coffee. He has a terrific set up at home with a purpose built training area in the garden and you will struggle to find a more committed martial artist. Robert cuts his own path based on his own experiences and backs up his knowledge with personal ability. He's also a very nice bloke who if you are anywhere near Buxton you'd do well to visit. He offers personal tuition and class work. He's also a published author.
As for taking the assessment. Highly recommended, at the end of it, given the option of saying I’m a TTUGB Instructor because a mate said I was, or putting myself before an unbiased person and being my own man. I now know which I prefer.
Passing an TTUGB assessment has nothing to do with claiming to be an Instructor in my chosen style, that’s another hurdle altogether because my chosen style is Yang Family T’ai Chi. They like you to know the full 103 hand form, 67 Sword, Push Hands and T’ai Chi Sabre. But it’s very nice to be able to say I did it.
You can contact Robert at Buxton Tai Chi Club.