Greetings. Somebody asked me today why I am doing this project. Here are some thoughts. First, I love Tai Chi. I have been studying it for almost 50 years and I want to share what I have learned. Second, I want people to get real about what to expect and how to set realistic goals, and how to accomplish these goals. I want people to realize that each instructor should share from his or her experience, not state as a fact something they have read or heard. Each instructor is different with different experiences, so listen to what the instructor says, try it out, and if it doesn’t work for you, put it aside. And be discriminating. When I go to YouTube and view “Masters” sending people flying without a touch, I shutter to think that people believe in this acting. I have been with many real masters and I have never met anyone who can demonstrate these abilities. So, as I said, set realistic goals and you’ll feel like you are making real progress as you accomplish these goals. Now more on Standing.

More on Standing
I covered the basics in the last email. Now a few more specifics.

I stress constantly that a student needs a goal. In standing, what do you want to accomplish? Improve strength and balance? Improve martial abilities? Allow a stable base for working on breath control? A stable base for meditation, letting the mind soar?

When you decide, you might alter your stance to suit the goal. For instance, if you want to improve martial skills, a wider and eventually deeper stance is appropriate. For working on balance, fairly wide, but not as deep. For breath work, shoulder width. For meditation, a hip width is good. The basic, all around Tai Chi Chuan stance uses shoulder width. It is like Tai Chi form in that shoulder width is a compromise between the stability of a wide stance, and the ability to move quickly from a narrow base.

You can experiment with this on your own. Stand with your feet as wide apart as you can. Then step forward with your right foot. Notice how quick and easy this is. Next, put your feet together and step with your right foot. Notice how quick and easy it is. In the years I have shared this exercise, 99.9 percent of the people say the narrow stance is way faster.

Do the same thing, and have someone try to push you over from the front with a slow and steady push. I think you’ll agree that the wide stance is much more solid for dealing with a large force.

So in Tai Chi, we compromise with a shoulder width stance. Not as strong as a very wide stance, and not as easy and quick to step as a narrow, but not bad in either instance.

So for general purpose standing, most people find shoulder width works fine. More later.