Another member of my online internal arts school opted for personal coaching last week. He shot some video demonstrating a couple of silk-reeling movements and standing stake. In a move that I thought was very creative, he put the video clips on Facebook so that only I could see them.
I watched the video clips -- each one was between 3 and 5 minutes long -- and was able to make comments right there on his Facebook page.
Whether we are enrolled in a regular school or the online school, most of us make the same mistakes when we're beginning. The most important thing for the student is to have a teacher who can identify errors and clearly explain them.
I shot a reply video for this person, showing him how he was turning his hips too much, and other tips just for him. Turning the hips is one of the most common mistakes people make early in their training. It's very hard for people to separate their waist/dan t'ien area and the hips. When you tell people to turn the waist, too often they turn the hips and it throws their posture all off.
Another common mistake in silk-reeling is the "dead spiral." You'll put your hand in a position and move it across without spiraling it. He was doing this, too, along with performing at too fast a speed. You really need to slow silk-reeling down and feel the spiraling through the body -- feel the connection with the ground, peng, and whole-body movement as you spiral from the ground to the hand. These are skills you need for any internal art, whether it's Chen tai chi, Hsing-I Chuan or Baguazhang.
Another common mistake is with the elbow. The elbow should not be higher than the hand, especially when spiraling the hand across the front, as in single-hand reeling.
I posted my coaching video to a private page on the web. I sent him the link. His reply was "Wow!" He said the video really made him see what he was doing wrong. He's going to practice a little and then shoot another video for coaching.
There are a lot of folks out there who don't understand how technology has improved. They say "you can't learn this art through the Internet." I believe you can, and for a lot of people who don't have access to good teachers, it's a great option. When I work with people and see them inspired, and see them take steps forward, it's a great feeling.