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Trying not to judge

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Old 05-15-2014, 05:16 PM   #16
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Maybe I was expecting an older Chinese safe man who moved brilliantly and talked little. Tai chi doesn't need that much talking really. Or at least talk while allowing us to move and not just stand there at attention listening to stories.

How did her prevent you from moving around while he talked?


"older...chinese... safe..."

Ironic word choices for someone "trying not to judge."

It sounds like you were too hung up on his "biker" appearance to get anything from the class.


I get the perception of big, burly, bearded, "biker-types" as being unsafe. I had those same prejudices when I met my husband. If I hadn't gotten to know him by email and phone before meeting him in person, I probably would never have given him a chance, and I would have missed out on an amazing marriage, with an amazing, articulate, intelligent, cultured, sensitive, gentle soul, who happens to be a classically trained chef, who knows more about women's fashions, classic movies and literarure, and astrophysics than anyone I've ever met, and also happens to look like a grizzled, intimidating, "dangerous" biker (if you believe the tv-movie stereotype).

Since falling for my husband, I've met a lot of "dangerous-looking biker-types." Not one of them has been "unsafe."

My brother has even become an actual biker after his navy-retirement, and now looks the part. 99% of men whose appearance fit the stereotype, do not fit the stereotype in any other way.

The "bad" biker types call themselves 1%-ers for the reason that 99% of the "biker-types" are completely ordinary in every way except their appearance.


It sounds like you fell for the movie-version of tai chi. You were expecting Pat Morita, and got fat, biker dude.

As Arctic Mama pointed out, you get what you pay for, and if you need an old, chinese, "safe" (whatever that means, how is a tai chi instructor in a public place, "unsafe"), male to enjoy a class, you need to seek that out.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:17 PM   #17
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OP was just being honest about some feelings she was having and I appreciate the candor. It's ok to post about feeling disappointment in a class, even if it was free. We're all here to express ourselves and if we keep things to ourselves, this place would be a lot less active. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:32 PM   #18
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OP was just being honest about some feelings she was having and I appreciate the candor. It's ok to post about feeling disappointment in a class, even if it was free. We're all here to express ourselves and if we keep things to ourselves, this place would be a lot less active. Just my 2 cents.
Yep, and we all also are just being equally as honest and open about the thoughts and feelings we are having in response to OP's thoughts as reflected in her posts.

And while I appreciate the candor of expressing ideas and behavior, even racist, agist, sexist, and classist ideas and behavior, I will tend to point them out as such when I see them, especially when they come from someone who expresses a goal of "trying not to judge." Such a person, I would expect, would appreciate observations that might make reserving judgement easier in the future.

I suspected from op's original post that the main problem with this teacher was his appearance, I just didn't expect her to confirm it by referencing blatant ethnic stereotyping. "... old, Chinese, safe man who moved brilliantly and talked little." Really!?

That's television Tai Chi, not real life, free-in-the-park tai chi.

If you're expecting the ethnic stereotype of the elderly, totally silent, perfectly graceful, male Chinese tai chi instructor, anything else is going to disappoint. And assuming that a fat, talkative, "biker-type" is unfit and "unsafe" isn't going to make the situation any easier.

It's natural to make these false and stereotypical judgements without thinking about it, and so I think discussing these influences is helpful. Even discussing the possibility of unconscious stereotyping.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:47 PM   #19
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Lol spell check likes to take over sometimes. I meant sage not safe. I did not feel threatened at all, he seemed like a sweet grandfatherly type of guy and very humble.

And as I already explained in a previous post he would not allow us to do te moves and kept telling us to "just watch just watch" when we tried to follow along.

You definitely get what you pay for and I'm by no means cheap, the fact that it was free and in my neighborhood was a draw because it felt like a community type of activity which I like to support.

Yea yea I envisioned an elderly Chinese man teaching me an ancient martial art, go figure. I don't see how that makes me a racist though lol. If cost and time weren't an issue I would most definitely spend the money on tai chi classes.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:53 PM   #20
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You just jumped from spirit to something physical - age, race. If you can't feel the spirit from a big non-Chinese not-quietman perhaps try Chinatown in Flushing?
I didn't jump from anything to anything. I wish the class had been fun. It wasn't. I was expecting something else in my mind. It didnt work out. His teaching style did not suit me. The class was slow. I didn't learn much. I don't feel inclined to go again.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:53 PM   #21
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Yep, and we all also are just being equally as honest and open about the thoughts and feelings we are having in response to OP's thoughts as reflected in her posts.

And while I appreciate the candor of expressing ideas and behavior, even racist, agist, sexist, and classist ideas and behavior, I will tend to point them out as such when I see them, especially when they come from someone who expresses a goal of "trying not to judge." Such a person, I would expect, would appreciate observations that might make reserving judgement easier in the future.

I suspected from op's original post that the main problem with this teacher was his appearance, I just didn't expect her to confirm it by referencing blatant ethnic stereotyping. "... old, Chinese, safe man who moved brilliantly and talked little." Really!?

That's television Tai Chi, not real life, free-in-the-park tai chi.

If you're expecting the ethnic stereotype of the elderly, totally silent, perfectly graceful, male Chinese tai chi instructor, anything else is going to disappoint. And assuming that a fat, talkative, "biker-type" is unfit and "unsafe" isn't going to make the situation any easier.

It's natural to make these false and stereotypical judgements without thinking about it, and so I think discussing these influences is helpful. Even discussing the possibility of unconscious stereotyping.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:54 PM   #22
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Of course you suspect the worst of me kaplods. This does not surprise me.
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:49 PM   #23
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Of course you suspect the worst of me kaplods. This does not surprise me.
I do not suspect the worst, of you or anyone else, I expect everyone, including myself to be a complex combination of their experiences, attitudes and beliefs, often oblivious, but generally open to other points of view. I expect that most of us will harbor prejudices and stereotypes we're not even aware of until someone else points them out to us (and often not even then).

Your original post and subsequent posts made it very clear that you were put off by the teacher's appearance and were expecting the hollywood image of a tai chi instructor.

It's my understanding (which could itself actually be an inaccurate ethnic stereotype that I harbor) that the,"Just watch and listen," teaching style is pretty typical of many if not most asian cultures, so even if the teacher had been elderly and Chinese, the teaching method could very well have been the same.

It's also my experience that whenever someone states up-front and first-off that they're "trying not to judge," generally they already have judged, have judged harshly, and are wanting and expecting others to agree with, and justify the same judgement.

Your posts have only reinforced that impression. You spent a lot more time talking about how this guy looked than the teaching method you had a problem with. The time you devote to a subject tends to reveal where your true feelings and priorities lie.

We all have prejudices that cloud our judgement of others.

That's far from "assuming the worst," that's just assuming the typical and normal.

Judging while trying not to judge is pretty normal. I'm trying to do it now, and am failing. The only difference is that I know I'm failing and have no problem at all with others here pointing that out the failings I may or may not see, as has happened and will continue to happen often here on 3FC.

I can't tell you how many times, criticisms I've received here have helped me understand myself and others better, because I was letting personal prejudices I didn't even know I had, get in the way.

Nellie, JohnP, and ArcticMama are just a few of the folks here who have been extremely helpful in that regard.
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:56 PM   #24
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Kaplods brings up a good point about this instructor possibly being helpful to some students. When I was 272 I went to yoga classes. Because I was very apple shaped with a large belly I had a very difficult time balancing in some poses. The instructor was very thin and fit and had to constantly come over to keep repositioning me. I felt like such a nuisance.

I would have really appreciated a plus sized instructor!
I totally know what you mean!!! I have an exaggerated hourglass figure and I get yelled at all the time for "sticking out" my chest and butt in yoga. I can suck those puppies in and tuck under my hips and it will still be on display and arched looking. Lay off!!!
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Old 05-15-2014, 08:45 PM   #25
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I think beating someone into submission with harsh words doesn't do anything positive. By the way, even though she didn't mean it, I personally feel safer with an elderly man than with a younger man. If that makes me ageist then so be it. I base it on experience, if that counts for anything.

I usually stay out of heated debates on this forum because I really enjoy this site. I just don't think it has to turn quite so negative. There's a way to say things and express yourself without hurting someone's feelings or accusing them of being racist/ageist, etc.

Having preconceived notions about what a class will be like isn't particularly wrong. When I go to a Jewish deli, I expect the owner or manager or someone there to be Jewish. If that makes me racist, I guess I'm racist (although I'm Jewish, so maybe not). If the deli is great, I'd still go, but if it's not, I wouldn't and maybe I would wonder if it's because the people there don't know enough about Jewish food.

If I go to a nutritionist, I expect them to be within a healthy weight range. If they're not, I wouldn't stop going to them if they had good advice, but I would just be surprised.

I don't think it's far fetched for OP to expect a Chinese instructor just like when I go to an Acupuncturist, it's what I expect...a Chinese person. If they're not Chinese, I'm just a bit surprised.

OP's overall judgment seemed more based on teaching style and she did mention other attributes of the instructor. Was there judgement there? Probably. But anyone who says they don't judge is either a saint, is unaware they're doing it or is just in denial.

Had the class been awesome, I think she would have been delighted.

I mean all this with sincerity and good intentions, but I'm ready to get slammed.
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Old 05-15-2014, 10:16 PM   #26
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I don't think anyone is beating anyone over the head. But this seems to be a case of expectations not meeting reality, and the general wisest course of action is to listen, learn, and adjust expectations OR the situation to avoid the same outcome again. In the OP's case, her expectation didn't match reality and if Tai Chi is something she still believes is worth pursuing, better to pay for the quality and type of instruction she wants, since her preferences and expectations in this situation don't seem the type to be readily or easily changed.

It's the same reason I don't eat steak at a diner. I am picky and particular about my steaks, and you get what you pay for around these parts. Since I'm not about to adjust my expectations of the quality and flavor of my steak, I suck it up and pay for the quality I want, rather than getting mad at the diner for not being an award winning steakhouse
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Old 05-16-2014, 06:53 AM   #27
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Arctic Mama, I would have thought that steak in Alaska would be wonderful. I don't know why I thought that but I did.
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Old 05-16-2014, 07:28 AM   #28
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OP's overall judgment seemed more based on teaching style and she did mention other attributes of the instructor. Was there judgement there? Probably. But anyone who says they don't judge is either a saint, is unaware they're doing it or is just in denial.

Had the class been awesome, I think she would have been delighted.

I mean all this with sincerity and good intentions, but I'm ready to get slammed.
Thank you for trying to see my point. I don't feel beaten into submission, submission is not something I succumb to -but nothing will turn my mood as quickly as being called a racist.

My OP might have been unclear - I did not start off the class judgmental. Someone who takes a class about something they don't know much about in a public space with the thought that they might be the youngest or most inexperienced one in the bunch is not someone who cares much about judgments, and although I was surprised by who the teacher was it did not deter me from participating and I gave no thought as to whether or not this would be a good class. I was there with the intention of having a great time. When that didn't happen I began to judge and question him and maybe some of that judgment fell on his appearance. A preconceived notion is not racism or ageism or sexism.

Whether or not you believe that tai chi is a fitness class I would suspect that anyone might expect that their instructor be knowledgeable, capable and fit. Can one be capable and fit to instruct a movement class while obese? I suppose so but should the class not meet expectations then your abilities will be called into question.
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Old 05-16-2014, 09:32 AM   #29
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I just can't believe how caught up you are in his weight. If he were in fantastic shape and had a lame class with little movement, you would never call his abilities into question based on his shape or weight. My old spin instructor was overweight, and she was very good at spinning and helped us a lot. She taught a lot of the other fitness classes, too - including yoga and pilates, which are often considered the domain of slim people.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:05 AM   #30
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I just can't believe how caught up you are in his weight. If he were in fantastic shape and had a lame class with little movement, you would never call his abilities into question based on his shape or weight. My old spin instructor was overweight, and she was very good at spinning and helped us a lot. She taught a lot of the other fitness classes, too - including yoga and pilates, which are often considered the domain of slim people.
Perhaps I am judging because the class was not good. But what if your overweight spin instructor was not very good at spinning? What then? Maybe you wouldn't judge based on her weight but maybe you would, who knows?

Sometimes our expectations our arbitrary, like how I imagined an old chinese man to teach the class. And sometimes our expectations are logical. Life if I want someone to teach me now to sew then I am justified in assuming that the person has some experience in sewing. It's not an unrealistic expectation that someone who is teaching a physical movement class is well versed in physical movement. Tai chi may not be a sweat inducing cardio exercise but it does involve movement, range of motion, and the principle of tai chi foster longevity and good health. You gotta practice what you preach and if the teacher is using classtime to speak to us about his beer belly (his words, not mine) then naturally I will have my doubts as to whether or not he's living by those principles.

I don't doubt he loves tai chi. I don't doubt that there are many overweight fitness instructors that have endurance, strength speed, and can exhibit the principles of whatever they are teaching. No matter what one weighs or looks like or whatever their age, we have an expectation that they will perform.
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