The night before, James, to the left of the boy in the center, treated me to dinner and we discussed life in China. The next day, all the boys shown here picked me up at my fancy hotel and took me to lunch. In the afternoon, I spent a couple of hours training them. Bai Yang is the student in the center. He is very serious and will come to America next year to study Kung fu & Qigong, meet my American students, learn some English and enjoy the Buffalo and Niagara Falls area. James can speak decent English while the other 2 cannot speak much.
Though Bai Yang is in China, he does not have much opportunity to learn the traditional arts. I taught him things such as meditation, basic Qigong, stretches and the philosophy of a traditional artist. As he has old injuries and certain lifestyle habits, I advised him to practice these things first before he is ready to learn more form work. Last year, I taught these boys a few moves of the Tian Long Quan- Dragon style and they were eager to learn more.
He always signs his name in emails "your student." He took a cab more than 45 minutes to my hotel, just to get me into a cab to take me to lunch, which he insisted to pay for. In addition, all the boys escorted me to the train station to see me off. Because I had so much luggage, they asked the boss if they could go into the restricted area to help me onto the train. To my surprise, they stayed with me until the moment I set foot on the train. Though I know they like me as a Teacher, what is more important is that they understand that the relationship is a 2 way street. Its not worship to take care of your Teacher's needs, and it does not mean your Teacher is weak and cannot survive without you. They understand the Teacher has skill and experience that they don't have, and that it is something to be cherished.
Some Chinese students can learn a thing or two from American students as well. I am not talking about the serious students who train in competition or in the mountains, but the average young person who dabbles in Martial Arts in China. American students have a deep desire to improve, and a love of the philosophy. American students are often willing to experience some of the tough training because they like the feeling of pushing themselves. As I told my class in Changzhou College last year, my American students were willing to be pushed harder than they were. Much to their dismay, I picked on them for this. American students are very interested in incorporating the philosophy of Buddhism and Daoism into their daily lives. This is an advantage over someone who just wants to learn movements for competition or fighting. This is the way to cultivate the real spirit of the arts. American students ask a lot of questions and being able to express themselves is high on their priority list. I used to find this off putting, because like a lot of Chinese teachers, it seemed like a challenge. Though asking too many questions and being too loud in expression can be a hindrance to learning and concentrating, it is also a very good way to learn when used with discipline.