DF: How to start a Tai Chi Practice

Clark Kent

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Sep 11, 2006
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How to start a Tai Chi Practice
By Russell - 09-17-2009 02:58 PM
Originally Posted at: Deluxe Forums


It's great to see people picking up Tai Chi. I love the art and have practiced it for many years.However, Tai Chi is a deep practice and it can be easy for one to get lost in the beginning. I was thinking of what I'd tell myself if I could go back to when I started.

Find a good teacher. They should be able to explain and show the movements well. If your teachers movements are coarse or abrupt that should raise questions. When explaining what certain movements are for there should be a balance between grand concepts (cultivating chi, uniting movement and intent, etc) and very tangible examples (opening the hips, developing balance by conditioning muscles, aligning the body to negate physical force, etc.). If the instructor spends a lot of time talking about extraordinary abilities or talents they developed but can't show you, this is again questionable.

Look for slow flowing movements without changes in tempo (except for the Chen form). A solid, always relaxed stance in another good sign. Also key is that every movement in Tai Chi should be connected, whole body movements. The waist (center, or Tan Tien) is the initiator and drive behind everything we do.

Cultivate a daily practice. Whether it's ten minutes or two hours, do what works but do it everyday. Your Tai Chi time should be as integral and unquestioned an activity as brushing your teeth.

The next thing I'd say is, take your time. Tai Chi is a life long process and every step along the way is enjoyable. It's never quantity of movement that matters with the Internal Arts. Far better to deeply know a couple of postures from the form and train them several times a day than to superficially know a (or multiple) whole forms and run through them every day. You will have a much more satisfying experience from the deeper practice.

Finally, I would say practice Yichuan (standing meditation) as well. There are specific Yichaun postures or you can use any posture from the Tai Chi form as your standing meditation. Yichaun is incredibly valuable both in priming your mind for the practice and developing the ability to relax and root your body. Try it out by holding a posture for ten minutes; smooth, long breaths into the abdomen; gaze off over the horizon; all of the joints relaxed and open; whenever a thought or distraction comes up, let it go and come back to watch the breath. Stand through discomfort but not through pain. If you start to shake that's great; it's your body shedding deep stored tension. If ten minutes is too much at first, no problem, start with five, or two. As your stand becomes easier, follow that retreating limit and let yourself stand longer.

You should feel challenged by your practice but enjoy every minute of it.

Take care,

Northwest Fighting Arts


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