Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 437

Stance Progression

We have three major widths for our stances in Tai Chi – wide, medium, and narrow. Each has advantages and disadvantages. I have discussed these in previous Tips. Usually in the form, we stick to one width throughout, even though in practical application we might vary the width according to the situation.

The width also varies during the learning process. When one starts learning, most instructors will teach the movements using what I call a shoulder width (medium) stance. This is a slightly wider than the natural (hip width) way to stand and move, but good for starting the student on building strength and flexibility.

After learning the form and practicing for at least a year, the student then widens the stance, and takes the level of the center lower. This greatly increases the power and strength the body can deal with, and it really stimulates the Kua area where power is transformed from core to periphery. At least another year at this level and width. The student will notice how much easier the medium width is now, more natural feeling.

Finally, the student, having a good grasp of how to generate and project energy, can use a narrower stance, which increases speed, so that all applications can be performed from a regular, natural stance.

At this time, the student can vary the width for interest and variety of practice.

So, I recommend, not getting stuck in one way or another. Play with your forms and listen to you body. It will tell you what you need to work with and on.