Updated: Mar 13, 2019
I. The foundation of learning Tai Chi well lies in slow practice
Practicing Tai Chi slowly gives you real control over your movements, and allows you to understand their rich connotations and essence. Slow practice is also a kind of detailed practice, which relaxes the whole body and adapts it to the kaleidoscopic changes of Tai Chi, uniting body and spirit.
Moving too fast leads to mistakes in executing movements’ fine detail, and in transitions between movements, which makes it impossible to achieve a high level of Tai Chi.
II. Practice slowly to achieve a state of relaxation and calm
The quietness of Tai Chi conbines the quietness of both mind and body. Only when the mind is calm can the whole body be relaxed.
How to achieve calmness and relaxation in practicing Tai Chi? The answer lies in practicing slowly. As you slow down, search for the state and feeling of relaxation and calmness in your body. At the same time, you should not only just pursue relaxation and calmness within your body, but also carefully explore relaxation and calmness in every movement.
Study carefully what state you should be in when you are still, and keep the state when you are in motion. As you gradually increase the intensity of your Tai Chi practice, body and mind will be relaxed to a state of natural fluidity, and eventually achieve a high level of relaxation and forgetfulness of self.
III.Practice slowly to learn the method of rotation
By practicing slowly, you can feel various changes caused by the rotation of pelvis, waist and spine. If only the arm moves and the pelvis does not move, the essential meaning of Tai Chi will be lost, reducing Tai Chi to a sort of gymnastics rather than Tai Chi internal energy practice.
Tai Chi uses the waist as the axis to drive the rotation of limb flexion and extension. The rotation of the pelvis and waist axis drives the movement of the trunk, and then the rotation of the trunk drives the movement of the lower and upper limbs. This kind of movement of continuous rotation will make the upper and lower body movements consistent and coordinate the whole body.
Using these two different methods of Tai Chi practice , you will find that using the arms to drive the waist will make the shoulders tight and inflexible. It is more effective to drive the arms by using the pelvis and waist, which relaxes the arms and shoulders. After a long process of introspection and slow practice, your movements will become more refined, your body will become more relaxed, the lower limbs will become more stable, the waist and crotch will achieve greater flexibility, your strength will become more concentrated, and your interest in Tai Chi will become more intense.
IV. Practice slowly to learn the method of cohesion
The underlying principle of transition between two movements is to precede each movement by its opposite: if you want to go up, you must first go down, if you want to turn left, you must first turn right; if you want to go forward, you must first go back. In the transition between two movements, there should be no stiffness or hesitation, nor any break-point or abruptness: the movements should be kept coherent and smooth. If every movement can be done like this, Tai Chi’s momentum of subtle and continuous power will reveal itself naturally.
In practicing Tai Chi, one should gradually come to understand the transition between the previous movement and the next movement without interruption or pause. This plays a very important role in Tai Chi, connecting each movement with the one both preceding and following. Without transition, it is impossible to make your movements smooth and flowing, to give them the surging and ebbing strength of powerful sea swell.
V.Practice slowly to achieve the state of internal relaxing and sinking .
When practicing Tai Chi, the weight on both feet changes from light (Yin) to heavy (Yang), or from heavy to empty. To avoid pauses in the distribution of your weight, slow down to practice and take care to alternate the weight more clearly and meticulously. The transition between light (Yin) and heavy (Yang) is achieved by relaxing the legs , hip and sinking the pelvis, which is the most important feature of Tai Chi. Without relaxation, there is no Tai Chi. Effectively relaxing the whole body and mind is the path to high-level Tai Chi.
The longer you practice, the more relaxed and flexible your body will become. All the forces are generated by relaxing the whold and feel your gravity down to the feet, in reaction force returns back to your body. In this way, you can sink your power to the soles of your feet and achieve the state of "strength starts from the ground, is controlled by the waist and transfers through the fingers".
VI.Practice slowly to learn the method of breathing and improve deep breathing
The slow movements of Tai Chi naturally deepen your breathing. You should start with natural breathing, and move towards reverse abdominal breathing once your skill in executing the movements has reached a certain stage.
Pay attention to the coordination of movements and breathing, the breathing and movement should not be too mechanical. You should try to synchronize breathing and movement, but it’s better not to force yourself if you find the synchronization difficult.
In Tai Chi, breathing comes naturally as the movements change. People who cannot at first coordinate breathing and movement, or who use the natural breathing method, will unconsciously combine movements and breathing if they keep practicing for long enough.
Opening (Yang) and closing (Yin), rising up (Yang) and sinking down (Yin), strong (Yang) and soft (Yin), this is how the movement of Yin-Yang and breathing should be naturally combined, inhaling when closing and rising, exhaling when opening and sinking down. Closing and opening, rising up and sinking down are the phenomenon of posture, strong and soft is the phenomenon of inner strength, and breathing is the natural phenomenon of sports physiology. The three-fold natural combination of mind, the movements of Yin-Yang dynamic equilibrium, and the breathing forms the essence of Tai Chi.
Author : Master Ping Wu
Edited by Martin
28 / 02 / 2019