Studying Tai Chi
Perhaps you want to study Tai Chi because:
- You are interested in self defence and have heard that Tai Chi is an excellent martial art,
- You are interested in improving your health or becoming fit and have heard that Tai Chi reaches the parts of the body other exercises don't touch,
- You are interested in Eastern philosophy or medicine and have heard that Tai Chi is an embodiment of many of those ideas.
These are all excellent reasons for taking up Tai Chi as a regular activity.
Tai Chi brings mind, body, and spirit together in harmony. The benefits of Tai Chi spring forth from this.
Bearing in mind one's reasons for studying Tai Chi one can come to an understanding of how best to study the art.
Tai Chi brings the mind and body together by revitalising the natural energy of the body,
bringing it under the control of the mind and helping to clear the mind of extraneous thought. The mind and the body are encouraged to operate in harmony with each other.
Tai Chi exercises encourage increased awareness of surrounding objects and people, and
creates a natural movement that manages events through harmony rather than conflict.
In order to progress beyond an elementary level, students develop methods of testing and checking their ability at Tai Chi. This is achieved
through work with a partner where the control of energy flow can be seen and felt through physical contact. The primary exercise for this is
pushing-hands. It is an essential element without which centre and control of energy cannot be fully mastered.
Students develop gradually. Typically they:
- Develop the physical movements, strength, co-ordination and quiet concentration.
- Develop the level of energy needed to perform Tai Chi properly including the right balance of energy through the body.
- Develop an understanding of the centre, 'chi' paths and moving energy. Practise the importance of Ying and Yang energy.
- Develop the centre and moving energy to higher levels.
- Develop a further understanding of the application of energy.
These stages are developed and practised contiguously but practice in stage 5 has limited benefit to the student without a good grounding
in stages 1-4.
If you have not studied Tai Chi Chuan before then come and try it. It may change your life for the better and you have nothing to lose.
Finally, here are a few words for contemplation from the great Tai Chi master Wu Yu-Hsiang (1812-1880):
"In performing the forms, you should be like the eagle which glides serenely on the wind, but which can swoop instantly to pluck a
rabbit from the ground".
"Your Mind should be centered, like the placid cat - peaceful but able to respond instantly to the scurrying mouse".
"When in stillness you should be as the mountain. When in motion you should move like the water of the river."
Some slightly more martial sayings worth thinking about:
"direct strength like reeling of silk from a cocoon..&.. release strength like shooting an arrow"
"(be) delicate like a virgin seeing a man, unbridled like a fierce tiger decending a mountain"
(In pushing hands) "Four ounces overcomes a thousand pounds"