Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 225
When I first encountered Tai Chi, I had never heard about it, seen it performed, or was interested in the martial arts. But once I did, I have devoted most of my life to attempting to understand what the heck I am doing.
There is a simple answer to the question we all ask – how do I understand Tai Chi and how can I relate this philosophy to my daily life. There is a simple answer. Practice.
I took classes from a lineage holder in the Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan. His method of teaching was “Just follow me”. So I did. I had no knowledge of the what and why, yet I could follow well. In the beginning, a student could only take one class a week until one had finished learning the entire 54 movement form. I was fortunate that I was an actor and had studied pantomime so I could mimic movements. Many couldn’t, so the method of just following didn’t work for them.
After some time, Master Choy would invite me perform at demonstrations with him, and the people who watched us had no idea that I had no idea what exactly I was doing. I followed Master Choy in classes and then I would spend many hours practicing what I saw and training my body to do what his body was doing.
Students now have the benefit of the internet, videos, books, and even in small communities, Tai Chi instructors. I learned mostly by practicing and looking inside my body with my feeling mind to figure out what worked and what didn’t. You don’t have to be a Master to enjoy the practice and gain the benefits. Just practice with an open mind and allow the integration of the body and mind.
This is my 225thTraining Tip. I started in 2015 in order to motivate people to want to practice. I am not teaching the form. My goal is to give students hints and ideas as to why topractice, and what to expect when one does spend time playing the forms. You will not master Tai Chi by just going to classes. You must practice on your own. Find peaceful, beautiful places to practice, and allow your mind to integrate with nature. Tai Chi is nothing but natural movements done naturally. Always look for the most simple way to move in order to accomplish your goal. Tai Chi is simple – don’t complicate it. Round the edges. Find the center and keep the movements closely tied to this center. Work to understand what you are doing and why. It will save you many years if you realize that Tai Chi is effective martial movements done in the most simple way possible. After some time you should be able to surpass your instructor. After all, he or she has shared, or should, all the knowledge he or she has amassed through practice. You are starting where the instructor is at the moment.
An important training tip: When the Tai Chi class is over, if possible, go home and practice what you learned. You don’t have to spend much time, but you want to imprint the move into your brain and body before it starts to fade. Then the next day, practice this again. If you wait until the next week class to repeat the movement, you will have a difficult time, for sure.