The most effective way to become a tai chi instructor is to earn tai chi instructor certification. There are several ways to become certified, often through a combination of classes and instructor training. This training can take several forms, including in-person classes, distance education, and workshops.
There are many different styles of tai chi, which is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes flow of movement to help reduce stress and improve flexibility and balance. While it is generally useful to know as much as possible about as many styles as possible, before choosing to become a tai chi instructor, it is usually best to choose one specific style in which to specialize. Taking classes is one of the best ways to determine if someone wants to become a tai chi instructor, and as class hours are generally part of the certification process, the student will already be on the way to receiving instructor certification.
Within the certification process, there are several levels a student can complete. The class hours required for certification usually range from 200 to 700 hours. Along with class hours, there are often instructor or leadership training courses to take, and a range of 20 to 150 hours is usually required. The combination of class hours and leadership training teaches not only everyday tai chi skills, including the movements and body positions, but also teaching skills and the history and theory behind the art.
Education to become a tai chi instructor can be obtained in several ways. Perhaps the most useful is by taking classes in person, either in a group or one-on-one with a tai chi master; this is often recommended because mistakes in body positioning can be easily and immediately corrected. There are other options, however. Some organizations offer training DVDs and manuals. Web-based distance education is also an option, and sometimes workshops are held several times a year.
Depending on the organization, the certification evaluation process may differ. All potential tai chi instructors usually must pass an exam before becoming certified. For example, to become a tai chi instructor, a written exam as well as a performance/demonstration exam usually must be passed. For people training through distance education, a video or DVD of the student completing the required demonstrations is sent to whoever is in charge of approving the certification.
There are professional and accredited tai chi organizations that offer certification. One of the benefits of belonging to an organization is that it may list the instructor once certification has been completed, which may provide potential clients for the instructor. These organizations often offer continuing education classes as well, so the tai chi instructor can stay up-to-date or increase knowledge to be more effective.