Over the last two decades or so in the tai chi game, I’ve noticed that many practitioners have unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve in short timeframes. Many times, students seek to learn a form and gain a high level of skill within a period of a few months, which of course is impossible unless you’re a rare genius in mind-body-chi. The irony is that those who let go of these expectations are usually the students who advance more quickly and, more importantly, experience the deeper health and healing benefits for which tai chi is renowned.
The question of how long to train Tao meditation and energy arts is one of the most frequestly asked questions.
I advise all students, but especially beginners to qi gong, tai chi, bagua or meditation, to mind their two-thirds of effort in mind-body-qi, and save 45-minute to hour-long practices for many months (or even years) down the line, once they have a solid foundation in nei gong. Otherwise, you may injure yourself or build up too much internal resistance and stop practising.
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.
Tai chi is a yin art, which is why it often gets disregarded as useless or only being good for the elderly and young girls. But in fact, the soft nature of tai chi is exactly why it is so effective as a means for developing qi power—whether for health, healing, meditation or martial prowess.
First and foremost, exercise done in a soft way can prevent you from embedding existing, superficial tension deeper within the body. Tai chi is a superior exercise system for releasing the nerves, which in turn releases all soft tissues. This process allows the body to unfurl effortlessly and further paves the way for amplified blood and chi circulation through unbroken motion. Practise daily and you have a concrete means for manifesting real health benefits, but tai chi’s magic doesn’t stop there!
I learned Tai Chi Circling Hands from my teacher, Wu and Yang Style Tai Chi Lineage Holder Bruce Frantzis. I designed this continuous set sequence to balance the body on both sides and work the circle from different planes of motion.
Click through to learn more about Tai Chi Circling Hands and to see a group video demonstration from my 2010 summer retreat in South France. (I teach regular tai chi courses in Islington, London N4). Continue reading