A conversation between teacher and learner

Here is a brief exchange over email between a DTC member and myself that reveals our thinking about a subject central to learning tai chi. I welcome questions and comments because it stimulates concrete conversation which serves as a knowledge-building activity. Background: I returned after 10 days training retreat and exposed practice partners to using different muscles to feel more connectivity. I had usually been focusing on using mind to move, but also on changing the body in subtle ways of movement. Afterwards, B wrote: “I have to say I am a little sore from the workout yesterday. … How in the world do you do it for 6 hours a day?” Me: “You got me Read More …

Tai Chi can help address pain and “clenching.” But how? Here’s one thought for practice.

I sometimes see pain as a sign of the body or brain talking to you, trying to get your attention, telling you to listen. If you have a painful joint or muscle, it might hurt because it’s doing more than its share of the body’s workload. It’s doing the work of other joints or muscles. One or more of these other parts might be holding back, either reacting to tension or stress, or creating tension and stress. I trace some of this back to the influence of emotion or knowledge. Often it’s low-level, under the radar sort of fear. Sometimes its a lack of clarity on how to respond to some force that you don’t quite Read More …

What I like about single basic moves in tai chi practice

Tai chi basics, including “single basic moves” are employed to train for specific objectives, such as loosening, relaxing and strengthening joints, ligaments and tendons, all of which are exclusive offerings of the tai chi exercise system. What I like about single basic moves is they give you something to do on your own. A good solo practice can be developed with single basics. I wrote before about the two kinds of memory you come across in practice: the learning a sequence of moves kind and remembering a deeper feeling of the movement. The first helps to develop the external appearance of movement and the latter develops the internal. Doing a single move repeatedly is simpler than Read More …

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 Read More …

Easy things you can do to fit tai chi into a busy life

You’re so busy to take in the wonder, not even enough time to take a moment to mourn the loss of the precious time burning away. What do you do? Here are a few ideas. Tip #1—Where you do tai chi. Get away from where you do your business in order to do tai chi without interruptions. Tip #2—When to begin tai chi When you wake, even before you get out of bed, give a thought to tai chi. When you rise, at least, inhale three times deeply, fully and think about one thing, one move, from tai chi that you did the last time you practiced. Tip #3—Be kind to yourself Pay your respects to Read More …

Refining Your Tai Chi Practice: Bringing Life into Your Body

You’re not just moving the body, you’re bringing life into it. By circling the eyes, for example, you’re freeing them up from stagnation and decay (atrophy), and allowing them to serve as “gates” (men) through which energy may enter the body. Think of tai chi this way.

Article: “The Millennial Obsession With Self-Care”

from NPR.com by Christianna Silva The content of this report resonates with the growth of millennials who do tai chi. I think, however, that they are not finding tai chi as easily as I wish they would. The article stresses the role of the internet in promoting self-care among millennials, though self-care has been around forever. Tai chi is ultimately self-care that contrast with the consumer approach to self-care mentioned in the report. Many people buy products (self-care kits) or subscribe to a twitter bot to remind them to take care of themselves. Just do tai chi, I say. Quotes: In 2015, according to the Pew Research Center, more millennials reported making personal improvement commitments than Read More …

Question about changing directions in Wu Style Tai Chi Form

Sometimes, I get questions from learners that merit sharing. This question is about whether we should pivot on the heels or the balls of the feet when changing directions in the Wu form. QUESTION: When you turn doing Tai Chi, is it always on your heels? ANSWER: This is a good question. By “always,” do you mean outside of class or inside? I learned in Wu style training, of which two lineages exist, to turn on the heels … except when the teacher does something else, such as turning on the bubbling well. The point I try to convey in class is to cultivate enough control to do what you intend to do, such as pivoting Read More …