I am amazed at how tai chi learning progresses. Once I had a time remembering basic moves and sequences. Now, even after not practicing for a while, I think I don’t remember the sequence correctly. Well, I actually do, and then I realize I’m at the cusp of being free to truly practice the internal components: precision, shape, force, control, eloquence. Something to look forward to if you practice long enough.
To tell the truth, it takes a long time to learn taijiquan. You must be dedicated to unraveling the mystery of internal awareness which is the trademark quest of tai chi. If you are one of those who pursues such knowledge, chances are you will be rewarded. Understanding is one of those returns for your effort. That which intrigues the imagination so much will be like the feeling of returning home after a long journey.
Tai chi is a practical activity. You pare it down to evermore simple moves. It’s like trying to find a path through a dense forest. You have to navigate the forest to find your way. The forest is your body, your whole being. In time you become familiar and finding your way is easier, more rewarding. Don’t be arrogant, be humble, accept what you discover, not as a blessing or curse. It could be that you are the one being discovered.
Although single basics are repetitive, they are not repetitious, so to speak. You repeat a pattern, intent on refining, not on repeating it exactly the same way as before. Change is the key. “Changeability” as Master Xu puts it. How do you refine? Pick out a particular locus and focus your attention on how you move there. Focus on the move itself and how you might alter it—make it smoother, rounder, less hesitant.
I used to assume that we westerners prefer explanations as we learn tai chi. In contrast, in China, teachers might not explain anything at all. However, explanations, or descriptions, are not as defined culturally as an individual preference, I think. We learn by listening to explanations and by doing. We had a productive practice Saturday outdoors that, for me, revealed many things about this idea of learning and doing tai chi. To learn more deeply by doing tai chi, I believe. However, some explanation can be useful at the right time and place. At one point in practice, a comment from me triggered a robust conversation (descriptions) and some good practice (doing). We were doing some Read More …
Here is an audio clip of me describing the goal of tai chi from my perspective. Comments are welcome on the usefulness of audio clips on this blog. Thanks for listening.
Tai chi learning is an incremental process that can’t be rushed. Of course, it helps to practice consistently with mindful attempts to recall what you were exposed to in class. Even though promoters often say tai chi is simple and easy, most beginners don’t practice at home between classes. If I could offer you a daily practice, I would in order to help you build a routine to incorporate in daily living. In class, I talk about places to get to in tai chi practice—milestones in developing skill, such as whole body moves as a single unit, being “connected,” being “weighted in gravity,” feeling the qi, freeing the muscle. You might think, “Wow, these things sound Read More …
We may not notice that we change as we mature and age. We may wake one morning to discover that our bodies are not functioning as they once did. Tired and sluggish, aching and stiff, we push on against the natural inclination to just stop to rest. Really rest. But that could be the death of us, so we push on and try not think about it. Tai chi helps to develop listening skills so that we don’t fall so far behind so much. That is the hope.