Tai Chi: The Softer Side
of Internal Martial Arts

Paul Cavel in a Tai Chi Posture

Recently, I posted a blog entitled “Tai Chi: The Art of Softness”, but is it possible to ever say enough about the form’s yielding nature?

Even though tai chi is the youngest of the internal martial arts, it has a quality that is absolutely unique unto itself. The intrinsic yin nature of tai chi allows deep healing to occur while the practitioner executes the form in the most gentle of ways. It is this hyper focus on the soft quality that often leads tai chi practitioners astray.

Relaxed Doesn’t Mean Collapsed

The Asian concept of softness and yielding does not mean weakness. Quite often those who focus on softness lose the structure of their tai chi form. However, in the realm of internal arts—especially tai chi—relaxed does not mean collapsed!

The aim is to maintain a sound structure with correct biomechanical body alignments yet remain completely relaxed. When you apply this to your form, it ensures that you maintain a strong motion albeit performed in a very soft way. This seeming paradox is possible because your alignments, structure and embodiment of internal content allows your core to be strong without engaging the muscles in such as way as to cause tension.

Dedicated Tai Chi Practice

Through the dedicated and regular practise of tai chi, the body is exercised, blood and qi is circulated more powerfully, the nervous system releases and the tension literally drops down and out the body. Over time, you can release and let go of accumulated and embedded stress and tension, penetrating deeper and deeper into your core.

When a practitioner arrives at this level of practice, the entire body, integrated into one whole, is exercised with little effort in a very fluid and incredibly soft fashion and yet with the power of a great river.

Watch a tai chi video…

Learning Tai Chi for Beginners

Developing strong, vibrant and healthy chi requires effort on many levels. All safe, deep and sustainable energetic development begins with the physical body, which requires learning an exercise form, such as tai chi.

I’ve been teaching tai chi since 1995, and one of the challenges is that the complex choreography can be difficult for beginners to assimilate. So, I highly recommend starting with qi gong, a simpler form of tai chi, followed by Tai Chi Circling Hands before moving on to a Tai Chi Short Form.

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