Are you doing tai chi? No?

People ask about getting tai chi right. What’s the right way, what’s the wrong? I tell them not to think of it as either right or wrong, just that you’re refining from where you are in your efforts to learn tai chi. This practice builds on the last practice. It’s cumulative. I believe that this thinking helps to dispel the idea that you have to do it right before you do it at all.

The only way to know tai chi is to do it. If you put off doing anything at all related to tai chi, you may never learn anything. You’re dealing yourself a bad hand by making judgments over whether you’re good enough to do it. A teacher can tell you the way he came and you can apply it to your choices, or not. It won’t matter either way if you don’t practice. Only the individual practitioner sees the way. No one else can see it for you.

So how to overcome judgment of yourself, or of tai chi itself? One view is that the simplest activity can be a practice of tai chi. Even doing a single basic repetition is doing tai chi. Even sitting for 60 seconds and breathing mindfully is doing qigong. Anyone can do that anytime and, every time you do, you’re building on the last time you did that.

The catch is that you have to do it regularly enough to reap the benefits. You won’t see results unless you do something and you do it regularly enough.

A journey of learning entails the step-wise progression of putting pieces of information together and building a body of knowledge. It’s a body of simple, personal observations filed away for later use—not assumptions based on conventionalized thought. It is not one thing or another to be argued right or wrong. It is based on your own discoveries. It is experience and the memories of experience.