Starting or Getting Back into Tai Chi?  
Class Enrollment Policy

 The class is a way to formally learn the art of t'ai chi ch'uan.  The system being taught was developed by Grandmaster Tchoung Ta-tchen and is called the symmetrical form of the Old Form of Yang Style.

Classes are for learning the forms and concepts in a specific progression.  It takes several years to gain proficiency in the art.  The idea is you are learning an art form.  Classes are also for training.

The benefit is only gained from the doing. So by working out in class you will get that exercise benefit.  If you have trouble motivating yourself to train at home, then you should continue taking class even if you know the forms.  Just like taking medicine for chronic illness, doing t'ai-chi is not a one shot deal, if you do not do the art form, you will not get the benefit. So taking the class is a way to make sure you do the training.  The training, exercising or playing is what is important.  The training day is a special day.

We welcome all students to our classes.  But recently we have had several which had confused views over joining the classes. 

Basically you have to sign up for every class you take, just like in the real world.  You should have the prerequisites for those classes you sign up for.  Classes are geared for the average of the group and everyone will be working on that.  If you want to work on specific forms you need to be in the class working on those forms.  Otherwise you may have to take private lessons or attend the "Open" workshops.  Our basic policy is that in general private lessons are reserved for Current Students and are for form training only, no partner work.

Occasionally we have students who are returning after a long layoff.  And there are students who come from other schools who just want to learn a form.  Our policy is that all new students from other schools will have to start with the beginning classes.  While this might not seem fair to some, differences in style, forgotten movements, and incorrect or differences in technique need to be dealt with from the beginning of training.  Our experience is that jumping into an advanced class does not work and there is no discussion on this.  Everyone starts at the beginning.  The only exception to this is the "Open Workshop".

If you just want to learn walking stick, pushing hands or sword, and are not in that part of the systems progression, you will have to wait for an "Open Workshop" on that topic.  Otherwise you will go through the normal progression.  Classes are geared to the level of the group studying and that will be the focus.  We believe that Basic Training is important and is stressed in each class.

Sometimes students feel that they learned the form years ago and forgot them and they require special treatment.  For example a fellow showed up for class one day after not training for several years.  He was not sure if I was his previous teacher or not. Then he implied that he wanted to sit in on the class to relearn what he forgot.  When told that he would have to register officially through the school, he was indignant and left.  In that particular school the Official Policy was that all students must be registered in that particular class, with no exceptions.

Many time students that trained years before have since forgotten most of the form and techniques.  Yet some believe that they should be able to audit the class to catch up.  The policy is that each student needs to be officially registered in every class they train in.  Most students understand this policy.

While visiting a class is allowed on the first day, after that the student must register or they should not be surprised if they are asked to leave.  We do not like doing this and it is uncomfortable for everyone involved.  For example, at UCR-UNEX unregistered students are not allowed to attend after the first session, that is a departmental policy.  RCC Senior's classes are free due to a Government grant, but students must be enrolled to attend there as well.  To not want to officially sign up is rude and disrespects the class, other students and the teacher. If you have no respect for the class or teacher, then don't show up.  So if you do not want to sign up, don't show up. See Respect by Wong.

Dealing with this issue, Master Andrew Dale wrote the following in the article "What do the masters do?" by A.T. Dale Xin Qi Shen Dojo Newsletter AUTUMN 2001. 

"Those teaching these arts get an assortment of phone calls from individuals wanting to join. Amazingly, a large percent mention they are above beginning classes. These statements range from, �Oh, I�ve had Taiji before (10 years ago) so I don�t need to be in a beginning class,� to �I just want to learn the sword.� Imagine going into a university and saying that? Or taking piano lessons and saying, �Oh, I just want to learn Beethoven's 5th, I had piano lessons when I was in high school.�

"Do you know what ballet performers do before a show? Do you know what concert pianists do before the performance? Do you know what opera stars do before a concert? They work on the basics! Ballet performers practice their bar exercises, pianists warm up with the scales, singers practice their range. Even at the start of their practice they work on the core basics, polish, polish and polish them some more."

"It�s interesting that many martial artists, once they�ve learned the basic stepping, hand exercises and drills, don�t drill basics but merely practice forms! As they start practice they tend to move directly into their forms, go through the entire routine and keep going. Seldom do practitioners take pieces of the movements, or the basic exercises, and drill them. Many don�t know how to practice. Look around, those you see drilling basics are usually the most skilled at their art.

Need I say more?" 

According to Dale,  "The emphasis of this dojo is to teach and train members in the complete system of the arts. Students will be taught systematically from the beginning to advanced levels: Qi Gong, Meditation, Solo Forms, Tuishou (push hands), Roushou (soft hands), Sanshou (applications), and Weaponry. All students are expected to practice between classes. Regardless of prior background all new members start at the beginning in the basics classes.

Tuishou, roushou, sanshou, and application classes are for long-term members of the dojo and by invitation from the instructor. Body vocabulary and character are determining factors in joining the applications classes.

Instructor certifications are issued upon the completion of an individual system. This usually takes 5-7 years of continuous practice."


Also see student problems by Dale; Beware of the Three Faults; and "Raising a Corpse from the Dead", by Kurland.

See Xin Qi Shen Dojo at




Dale's Dojo Policy:


        The Dojo will be run in a traditional manner. Enter with beginner's mind. Sifu/Sensei and assistant instructors set the rules.

        All new members regardless of prior experience begin at the beginning. A constant beginner's mind is the path to learning.

        Students are expected to be on time for classes.

        Students are expected to practice between classes.

        This dojo doesn�t support competitions, tournaments or fighting.

        Cell phones and pages either off or on silent during club hours.

        Perfume, cologne or jewelry should not be worn during class.

        Dojo is for practice, not chatting.

        Students are expected to help each other. If part of a group practice, students must catch up to class if a session is missed.

        No food permitted in dojo during club hours.

        Weapons are only to be handled by those working on forms requiring them.

        Tuishou and partner work is by instructor�s permission only.

        The dojo is for refining our body, mind and spirit. Displays of ego or anger are not acceptable.

        Members are expected to set a good example at all times. Do not show your training, let your training show.

        Members are expected to help keep the dojo clean.

        Those with regular attendance will receive priority with lessons.

        Assistant instructors and advanced members will be held to a higher standard than other club members.