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When there are so many Tai Chi and Qigong options, where do you start?

February 14, 2019

Let me put this simply, keeping in mind it is strictly my opinion.

You start with the skills.

Number one:  Learn about the why of the principals of Tai Chi and Qigong.  Without knowing or at least understanding why you move and search to feel what you do in these modalities,  it is hard to get to the point of internalizing the how.

Then comes the movement skills

  • how to lift arms
  • how to shift weight
  • how to stand
  • how to squat in a sit-back
  • how to place (step)
  • how to center
  • how to utilize the core
  • how to fold into the inguinal crease
  • how to relax the shoulder blades
  • how to find and feel balance
  • how to save the knees

All the above may seem simplistic,  however they are critical,  and I feel more important in the long run than learning forms.

I know a lot of classes where new students are tossed into form with the idea of picking up skills as they go.  That is a long, hard road to follow.

With the learning skills method, I teach folks in stages, with increasing awareness of each movement with a progression of added skills.

It is teaching, which is quite different than demonstrating.

From a student perspective it is learning movement again from the ground up. Learning to use the internal to move the external which is quite different from traditional movement or exercise.

For example.  A simple step. Most new students throw a foot out and it lands “somewhere” out front.  Is it in position for what follows?  Do they know something will follow or where the foot should be?  Do they know the knee position? Do they know where their weight should be or how to shift from one weighted leg, through center to another weighted leg?  Do they know the idea of placing vs stepping?

Yeah,  there is all that and more in a simple step. All separate skills that put together form the combination skill of Tai Chi walking.

The interesting thing here is that every style will have their own version of these skills. Yet they are all similar enough that learning one way is valuable no matter where you take your practice.

Knowing one way simply requires you learn a variation as needed.

What do I teach?  I call it movement using Tai Chi and Qigong principals.  I don’t teach lineage based.  I teach what works for me.  A mix of Tai Chi and Qigong I have learned and continue to learn.

It works for me, and thankfully,  for the hundreds of folks I have taught since 2006.

If you are a student and frustrated that your teacher is a strict,  forms based teacher and  you are not making progress, ask them if they can focus a bit more on skills.

If they balk, I say walk  as they are more interested in what they want to teach than what you need to learn.

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