Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 288
A Tai Chi Practice Problem
This is a question send to me this week. I think it is a problem that many students face.
“How should I divide up my time if I want to strengthen the body with warm up exercises, read about tai chi, qi gong and taiji philosophy, learn by video, practice tai chi chuan and meditate? And in what order? Currently I try to structure my development by doing warm ups->tai chi chuan video->tai chi chuan practice-> reading->qi gong exercises->seated meditation. Some days this feels overwhelming since I can spend hours on one of the steps and then not complete the rotation. I’m wondering if I should have an A day B day schedule or something. Thanks for your input on this.”
Think how you would answer this before you read what I wrote. 
Here is want occurs to me.
Tai Chi is a complex art with many aspects to its practice. The first thing to ask yourself is what attracted you to Tai Chi in the first place. Did you see the beautiful movements being performed? Did you research meditation techniques and Tai Chi was listed? Do you suffer some physical limitation and Tai Chi was recommended to help in the rehabilitation?
There had to be something that got you started. That is where I would start placing my energy. I personally was attracted to the calming, beautiful movements. I had no idea what Tai Chi was, so my focus was on memorizing the moves so I could practice the form on my own. There were no books, no internet, so no philosophy, hardly anything about applications, very little qigong connection to Tai Chi.
I spent several years just working on the form before I discovered how deep the practice of Tai Chi really is. I started at age 25 so I knew I had plenty of time for study. And I had an in-person instructor. That really helps. If you are older, say a senior, you will have to be much more selective in how you spend your time, and what your needs are. The main thing is you want to enjoy your studies, and not give up because you feel frustrated.
If you have an in-person instructor, you can put off videos and reading. I would also put off seated meditation and qigong exercises. All that is contained in the form. It is very important if you want to use Tai Chi as a meditative tool, that you memorize the movements and sequence as soon as possible. Meditation is based on non-thinking, so the sooner you can make the form a part of yourself, the sooner you can let go of trying to remember what comes next.
If you don’t have an instructor, you will need to go to YouTube and search Tai Chi and watch quite a few videos until you find one that offers you what you are attracted to and then study only that one person’s form. Find an instructor who actually teaches the form, not just offers a reference video. For instance, I teach the Yang Short Form (34) in 10 hours on 10 DVDs and the Long Form (108) in 40 hours on 40 DVD lessons.
Do not over load yourself with too many options. And do not study more than one form until you either master it, or give that one up, for whatever reason.
If you find you have extra time, read the classics and see if your form adheres to those principles. Take it slow and remember you have the rest of your life to continue your studies. I am heading towards 80 years old, and I discover new aspects of Tai Chi almost daily, even after over 50 years!
When I teach a class, for an hour to two hours, here is my sequence:
*Take any questions or comments
*Warm ups
*Simple qigong
*Form practice (including Partner Forms, Push Hands and Weapons, if it is an advanced class) – Whole form then work on anything that needs attention
*Questions or comments
I hope all of you searching for personal growth will find just what you want and need in your Tai Chi study.