Translated by Vincent Chu
Although there are many martial art systems, they all have theories and
principles on what they are. There are many people who spend their whole life
learning a martial art and they come up empty.
As a beginner, one must understand that one day's work is one day's gain. If
one adds all the day's, months', years' work, the achievement will be great.
Tai Chi Chuan is an art that's composed of hard and soft. It has special
information on philosophy, physics, and physiology. If one wanted to study this
art, one must go through a special training program. Although one has a good
instructor and classmates, the most important factor for success is that one
must practice regularly; otherwise, all is useless. People say that actually
learning something is better than thinking about it. If one can practice in the
hot summer and cold winter days, it does not matter if one is female, male,
young or old; one will achieve a high level in Tai Chi Chuan skills.
Recently, there are many people who have taken an interest in Tai Chi Chuan.
I am very happy about this. Among the beginners, one must have the will to
practice and be open to learning. What they will achieve is infinite.
There are two kinds of people. First, people who are smart, who can digest
information quickly and are satisfied with what they have learned. Second,
people who do not have the patience, who want to learn everything quickly,
people who are more interested in quantity than quality. In less than a year,
they already learned the solo form, sword, knife and spear. They appear to have
learned all the forms. Actually, they have not. When you ask them about the
movements, direction, inside and outside, they do not know how to respond. If
you wanted to correct what they learned, every movement seems to require
correction. You correct his movement in the morning and he forgets it in the
It is often said that it is easy to learn the empty hand form, but difficult
to make correction. This is a warning to those who want to learn quickly. These
kind of people do not only make mistakes for themselves but others as well when
they become instructors themselves. With many of these people around, I am
worried about the quality of Tai Chi Chuan in the future.
Tai Chi Chuan training begins with the solo form. It is learning the
individual movement of routine. The beginner should start with a knowledgeable
instructor. Slowly, learn each movement. Pay attention to the inside and
outside. Inside refers to the use of the mind, not physical power. Relax the
body and sink the chi down to the dan tien. Outside refers to the whole body.
The body must be nimble all the time. All parts of the body must be connected,
from the feet up to the hands and fingers.
At the beginning, it is important to learn one movement at a time. Do it
correctly before you go to the next movement. This way, one will not make
mistakes and one will not have to make corrections later.
During Tai Chi Chuan practice all the joints must be relaxed and open. The
nose should breathe naturally and the four limbs should not have too much
physical power. For many people, when they begin to move, the breathing begins
to feel difficult, the body begins to shake. This happens when one stops
breathing. Internal practitioners understand this clearly.
When you are practicing Tai Chi Chuan keep the following in mind:
- The head should not lean too much to the left, right, front or back. Suspend
the head from above means the head seems to balance an object and it should
not be stiff; otherwise, this object will fall. Although the eyes look
foreword, sometimes they will be turning to look based on the body rotation.
The mouth appears to be closed, but not really closed, open but not open.
Inhale with the nose and exhale with the mouth. All is done naturally. If
there is saliva produced as a result of putting the tip of the tongue to the
roof of the mouth, swallow it.
- The body should be upright during the open and close movement. It should
hollow the chest and raise the back. Sink the shoulders and rotate the hip.
At the beginning, one should pay a lot of attention to all the joints,
otherwise, it is very difficult to correct mistakes later. If one does not
do it correctly, one will achieve some Tai Chi Chuan skill but not much
- The joints on the two arms should be loose. The shoulders sink downward and
the elbows point down. The palms should extend outward and the wrist
bent. The intent is on the arms so that the chi can get to the fingertips.
With years of practice, the chi will be connected as a unit.
- The two feet should be clearly distinguished as empty and full. This will help
the practitioner to walk like a cat. When the body's weight shifts onto the
left foot, the left foot is full and the right foot is empty. When the body's
weight shifts onto the right foot, the right foot is full and the left foot is
empty. Although the foot is called empty, it is not. It should have the ability
to advance or retreat, if necessary. When we say full, it simply means that
something is there, it does not mean anything extra. Generally, the knee is
bent at a 90 degree angle. If it is more than 90 degree, it is excess. When the
body leans too much foreward, it loses its upright position.
- When it comes to kicking, there are kicks with the toes and kicks with the
heel. The standing leg should loosely connect and balance the body so that the
kicking leg can function. If the standing leg is not balanced, the kicking leg
does not have power.
Tai Chi Chuan training generally begins with an empty hand form such as the
Long Form. The next step is Push Hand Exercises such as Single and Double Joint
Hands in a stationary and moving positions. The third step is Tai Chi Chuan
weapons such as sword, knife and spear.
It is better if a practitioner can practice seven to eight times a day. This
can be divided into two sessions as morning and evening. One should not practice
immediately before or after meals. In term of location, it is good to find a
place where fresh air circulates, such as in a park or courtyard. It is not
recommended to pick a location that has high wind for it is not good to take
this air into your lungs. This can make one sick. The clothing should be lose
and the shoes should have a flat bottom. This can seal off the pores in the
skin and can make you sick.