It is important when you are beginning any new activity that requires instruction that you find a teacher with whom you are comfortable, and who can competently help you achieve your goals. Often this will take a little effort, but it is worth it in the end as it is better to find the right teacher in the first place than to spend months or years pursuing study in a way which is not leading you to your desired aim.
This is particularly important with Qigong teachers, as much of what you will learn will not only come from what the teacher SAYS and DEMONSTRATES but who the teacher IS. In books on qigong you may have read about ‘direct transmission’ from teacher to student. How exactly this occurs is not clear, but a large part of it is due to deep rapport effects. In essence the student will copy the teacher, not only in gross physical movements but also in subtle movements of energy. The student will usually be quite unaware of this but over time will unconsciously develop skills and habits of energy movement and generation based on what their teacher does.
With this in mind there are several points you may like to consider in your search for a qigong teacher.
What are the personal traits of the teacher?
Physically how does your teacher appear to you? How do you feel when you are around them? Are the serious? Lighthearted?
What is the teachers purpose in teaching qigong?
Is it just a job? or is it a passion? What would the teacher like you to achieve from your qigong practice? People see qigong in quite different ways, some people follow it as a quasi-spiritual path, others see it as a form or stress relief, still others as a cultural activity. To look into this further it may be helpful to find out about the history of the style of qigong being taught. For example the qigong I teach comes from an ancient family tradition. The Wah family were reknowned for both their kung fu and healing abilities. So their qigong has the aim of developing 1. a strong resilient body, 2. enhancing fighting abilities, and 3. developing healing skills. It is a practical style which focuses on tangible outcomes.
What are your teacher’s qualifications?
Many styles of qigong have traditionally been taught within families, or by a teacher to only a small select group of students. As such your teacher may not necessarily have an official degree or diploma, but you can find out about their history, who they have trained with and for how long. What were their reasons for learning qigong in the first place.
Does the teaching style suit you?
You may need to attend a class or two to ascertain this. You can also look at the teachers students who have been there awhile, how do they interact? It is important to remember that whoever your teacher is, they will not be perfect physically or in any other way. What is of most importance is whether they can help their other students, and thus hopefully you, reach their goals.
Does the teacher belong to any associations or professional bodies?
This indicates that the teacher keeps in touch with others in their profession and is in good standing with them. It will generally show that they are not close-minded to other peoples opinions and ways of doing things. They will have colleagues who they can turn to in order to help with difficult situations or questions. Until recently there have only been tangential associations between qigong instructing and various professional bodies, often qigong teachers may be acupuncturists, herbalists or health practitioners of some sort, or may have an association with a particular martial art such as Tai Chi. As such you would expect them to maintain membership with the appropriate association – but this does not directly reflect on their qigong. The implementation of a Qigong Instructor certification program by the New Zealand Chi Kung and Traditional Chinese Medicine Association has changed this. With time this will become the place to look to find a qualified qigong instructor in your area, whatever their background.
There is growing call for qigong instructors in the community. It is not necessarily a lucrative path to follow, but those who have a passion for health and helping others can find it very fulfilling teaching classes in their community. If you know anyone who may already meet the requirements to be certified as a qigong instructor, or who would like to pursue study towards certification, please have them contact me at John@developyourqi.com