One of my clients recently said to me "After 7 years you must be technically perfect". I was so taken aback by this, that I didn't know how to answer it at the time, but it's been on my mind ever since.

I  think it's the difference between doing an internal art and doing external exercise. The Chinese divide martial arts into external and internal. External are things that involve strength and muscle and what you can see. Internal arts actually are internal. For a long time, I didn't understand that. I mean, there I was doing all this exercise and making some kind of progress. Weird exercise, maybe, but exercise nonetheless.

After 7 years, I have now progressed sufficiently to start learning the internal parts and how to practise these. But obviously, I'm not going to write about what those are - the process of learning is by far the most important thing to engage in for yourself. Just know that when a beginner is doing whatever, I'm now doing whatever plus something inside too. So it looks the same to an inexperienced observer, but is totally different in the performance quality. And there's far more internal stuff I have yet to learn, it's all a process, that I'm working my way slowly through.

The "technically perfect" idea doesn't work for tai chi, not just from the internal development, but also from the curriculum development. If I was just doing pushups, perhaps I could become technically perfect,  but tai chi is so much more than just a set of exercises for health. Once you've learnt your way through the Beginner's syllabus, then there's more in store for you, as the syllabus widens out. What most people think of as tai chi - from things seen on TV or wherever - is just the beginning. It's like learning how to write your letters and your sentences. But as you progress, there's so much more, it's more like moving on to learn about poetry and literature, etc. Tai chi is a lifelong learning, not just in that you can do it all your life, but also in that you have so much to learn, that a lifetime is needed to work your  way through it.

Therefore trying to be "technically perfect" will just slow down your learning, as it's the wrong mindset entirely. Instead being willing to practise, to work your way through the process, and to enjoy your learning, without worrying about where you are, relaxing into being yourself, will be a much more helpful mindset, helping you progress at your own pace.