There’s a good mix of body types and skill levels in my Tai Chi class. As the most junior person in the group, I have the benefit of always working with people who are better than me (although being able to teach someone myself would certainly help solidify the concepts in my head).
Nothing beats working with the teacher, who can precisely vary his skill level so one can learn and absorb things in small increments, a systematic way of fine-tuning the details at a gradual pace. It’s something that takes a great deal of time for better results in the long-run, and I’m sure that in this sense, he’s investing in his students as much as one invests in the class.
Still, there are senior students who teach me significant things within a single minute of working with them. They fill in the gaps in my knowledge that I’m not sure I’d be able to figure out by myself, because they’ve been at my level before and understand what I’m doing wrong. Add to this a propensity to teach and help, and every class I walk away feeling like I’m improving, if only by a small amount. Sometimes it’s to the point where I feel like my mind is going to explode, and the coordination of my body needs to catch up with the concepts in my brain.
But there are also senior students who seem stiff and uncooperative to the point where I feel I don’t learn anything from them. And even though I’m told they’re being nice and not overbearing, I find practicing with them to be very difficult. It’s as if they’re working too far beyond my level, where my structure falls apart and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe it just means I’m not skilled enough to adjust and do it right yet. I’m still thankful to be able to work with them though, because at the very least, they remind me that not everyone who’s going to attack you will be cooperative.