Depending on the length of a Tai Chi form, it can often take a person more than a year to learn a Tai Chi sequence and/or a lifetime to perfect it. One of the things that intrigued me the most about Tai Chi is that you can never perfect it, and so begins the journey. The Yang Tai Chi short form I practice takes me about twelve minutes to complete each day. Not everyone has the time or dedication to devote to Tai Chi practice. We live in a very fast-paced environment and when someone is not working or constantly on the go, they want to just relax and De-stress by watching TV. For those people, I recommend Qigong, also referred to as Chi Kung or Chi Gung, which literally means “Life Energy Cultivation”. For a more in-depth definition of Qigong, visit Wikipedia.
Take a look at the video below which shows a short Qigong exercise routine that can easily be performed each morning or at any time of the day.
In our Tai Chi class, we warm up with Qigong exercises and most students feel an immediate benefit of Qigong. I believe this is because a person is not overwhelmed by the Qigong movements, the movements are very simply performed.
I am a strong believer in exercise, anything is better than nothing. If you can only do one Qigong exercise in this video, do it and it will enhance your life.
I first began weight training when I was thirteen years old and have continued strength training ever since. As we age we experience muscle atrophy and lose bone density. In order to reverse this aging process, we need to add strength resistance training to our lifestyle. It is my opinion through my own personal experience that everyone should do some sort of strength resistance training for better health.
Push HandsDuring my martial arts journey, I have heard many times through the years to avoid weight training. When you lift weights you are training your muscles to react by tensing up. When we train in Tai Chi we are trying to reverse this reaction. We practice Tai Chi to release tension and reverse the learned reaction of tensing up when we are pushed, attacked or even touched. We learn through the practice of push hands that we become stronger and are able to redirect force more efficiently by relaxing and listening with our hands and body.
As a beginner, I think it is appropriate for you to rely on physical strength to execute your techniques. I think it is also necessary if the need arises to protect yourself by using physical strength. Only after you become more proficient and are very familiar with the techniques you can then start to work on practicing the techniques without using or relying on muscle strength.
The long-range goal as you become a more experienced and proficient martial artist is to relax and use less muscle strength. By relaxing you can make a better connection to the ground, by making this connection you can use the earth to generate more power by using your legs and hips.
Read my guest blog post Combining Bodybuilding and Tai Chi: What it Means to Your Health at daimanuel.com.
Whenever I practice Tai Chi indoors my German shepherd dog lays down in my practice space a few feet of me to chew his Nylabone. I don’t know why but my dog has done this ever since he was a puppy. Is he doing this just to be next to me or is it done on purpose to bother me?
As I begin my Tai Chi form the loud bone chewing begins. As I slowly flow from one movement to the next, the loud bone chewing noises seem to fade away. After a few minutes into my form, when I am about to step into my next posture I realize there is a one hundred pound immovable dog at my feet. The video below called “The Misguided Monk” reminds me of me and my dog.
Does anyone else’s dog or cat look for attention when they practice Yoga, Tai Chi or any other meditative form?
I was just doing a random search online and found an article stating that Tai Chi is not a moving meditation. One of the reasons the writer stated that Tai Chi was not a moving meditation is because they felt in doing the Tai Chi form you need to pay attention to what is going on outside of the body as well as what is going on inside. I guess their idea of meditation is that you only pay attention to what is going on internally.
I think this is a great topic for discussion as I am sure most people have their own opinion. For me, it is my opinion that the Yang Tai Chi form is a form of moving meditation. I find that the Yang Tai Chi short form is my first choice when I meditate.
This topic is debatable because it all depends on the person and how they are practicing their Tai Chi form. The skill level of the practitioner plays a major role in whether you can say the Yang Tai Chi form is a form of moving meditation or not. There are many people who practice a choreographed Yang Tai Chi form. When they practice their Tai Chi form they tend to go through the memorized motions. Their mind wanders because they are not paying attention to anything. They start to daydream while practicing because the movements become almost dance-like. There are also some who are completely internal and don’t pay attention to what is going on outside their body while practicing their Tai Chi form. I remember reading an article or book once that stated something like, when practicing Tai Chi, no one should be able to walk up and tap you on the shoulder and startle you. You should be completely aware of your surroundings as well as what is going on internally when practicing the Tai Chi form.
For me, the correct way to practice Tai Chi as a moving meditation is to have awareness. That awareness can be on many things that are all happening simultaneously. For example: rooting, breathing, body alignment, and body mechanics, releasing tension, awareness top, bottom, front, sides and behind you, staying centered and more. All of these points are an integral part of practicing Tai Chi as a moving meditation. By having awareness on one or all of these points you have turned the form into a moving meditation. It is natural for your mind to wander if your mind wanders bring yourself back by being aware of one or more of these points.
Yang Tai Chi can be a great form of Moving Meditation, it really does depend on your skill level and how you choose to practice the Tai Chi form.
It’s your choice…
I recently read an article titled “How an American Dancer Introduced Tai Chi to America”. The article was about Sophia Delza a pioneer in introducing Tai Chi to non-Chinese-Americans. In 1948, Sophia Delza moved to Shanghai with her husband. On one of her trips to Beijing, she discovered Tai Chi. She wrote in her book T’ai-Chi Ch’uan Body and Mind in Harmony, The Integration of Meaning and Method about a dramatic scene early one morning when she first stumbled upon Tai Chi in T’ai Mizo Park.
“Dozens of people, young and old, were each doing his exercise, each clearly centered on himself. No outside sound of voice or instrument directed the movement. The slow, continuous flow of form and the impeccably even tempo seemed to come not only from some mastery within each one but also from the intrinsic nature of the action itself.”
– Sophia Delza
Delza was fascinated with the effortless movements that seemed amazingly light and stable. Sophia Delza quickly realized that this was not just a dance she was seeing. She wanted to know more and was introduced to Ma Yueh-Liang, a famed Tai Chi teacher of Wu style Tai Chi. She convinced Ma Yueh-Liang to teach her and she spent many years studying Wu style Tai Chi with Ma Yueh-Liang.
When Sophia Delza returned to New York from China in 1951 she would become an advocate for lecturing, teaching and writing about Tai Chi. She was definitely a pioneer in introducing Tai Chi in Manhattan where it was relatively unknown outside of Asian communities.
You can read the full article “How an American Dancer Introduced Tai Chi to America” Click here.
After reading this article, I am intrigued to learn more about this woman, who upon being introduced to the art of Tai Chi has decided to not only learn all she can about it but also pass this treasure to all of us. I will put this book on my next to read list.
To purchase a copy of Sophia Delza’s book, T’ai-Chi Ch’uan Body and Mind in Harmony, The Integration of Meaning and Method, Click here or visit your local library.
One of my favorite magazines for Tai Chi information and news was T’ai Chi magazine. For a few years, I was a subscriber, I would receive an issue every two months for a total of six annually. After discontinuing my subscription I would often go to my local Barnes and Noble and grab a cup of coffee to sit and read the latest issue. I always found it to be very insightful. I especially enjoyed the stories of how and why people began their Tai Chi journey. I would often think that one day during my Tai Chi journey I would write and submit an article to be published.
I recently learned that the founder Marvin Smalheiser, publisher and editor of the popular T’AI CHI Magazine passed away on October 21, 2016, from undisclosed causes. He was in his mid-80’s.
The T’ai Chi Magazine was a must-read for the Tai Chi and Chi Kung practitioner it contained really good articles that kept you updated and informed about Chinese internal Martial Arts as well as other health disciplines. In the back of the magazine you would find the Wayfarer Tai Chi catalog, the catalog was a good source for Tai Chi DVD’s, Chi Kung DVD’s, Tai Chi Books, Meditative Music, and other Tai Chi related products.
T’ai Chi magazine had been serving the Tai Chi community since 1977.
If you are interested in other Tai Chi magazines click the links below:
OTHER TAI CHI MAGAZINES:
How cool is this? More exposure to Tai Chi? There is a new RPG game out called Taichi Panda brought to you by Snail Games USA. “The road to becoming a Taichi Warrior is filled with challenges. Are you tough enough”?
I love the new trailer for Taichi Panda starring Ronda Rousey. Ronda Rousey says the path to becoming a Tai Chi Warrior is paved with challenges. You must be fast. You must be strong. You must hone your skills.
Wow coming from Ronda Rousey becoming a Tai Chi warrior must be something great. Even if it is only a game Taichi Panda might spark an interest in a young person to look further into this amazing martial art. Tai Chi can add so much value to someone’s life. Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part. But if Ronda Rousey says becoming a Tai Chi warrior is a good thing then it probably is.
I recently became aware of a novel by Marc Meyer called “Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America.” It is novel about a young man coming of age in New York’s Chinatown under the guidance of his Uncle, who happens to be a Tai Ch Master.
I began reading Marc’s novel “Taichi: The Story of a Chinese Master in America.” and I really enjoyed reading it. I usually read nonfiction Tai Chi material and this was a nice change for me. Through Marc’s writing style and imagination I was able to visualize the characters and scenery. This kept me engaged from beginning to the end of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Tai Chi or Martial Arts in general.
To purchase a Paperback or Kindle version Click here.
Most if not all of my Tai Chi reading has been nonfiction so I was particularly interested in this novel because it is coming from the creativity of a fellow Tai Chi player Marc Meyer. Marc is not only a Tai Chi practitioner for many years but a successful jazz pianist and concertizer. Marc lives in Naples, Florida where he makes his living as an author, musician and teacher of Tai Chi.
Please feel free to post your own comment if you have already read or plan to read it.
It was about a year ago when I first saw images of Anne Hathaway and Robert De Nero practicing Tai Chi in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. I was excited to learn they were filming a movie called The Intern 2015 and it would contain scenes of Tai Chi! Not only do I get to see how Tai Chi is portrayed in the movie but it has a chance to expose more people to the art because of the stars involved.
Tai Chi in Prospect Park had particular meaning to me; in 1998 my mother who was diagnosed with cancer and was battling her terminal illness at a New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope Brooklyn. When I would visit her I would take a break from her bedside and take a short walk to Prospect Park and practice my 24 Tai Chi form. Tai Chi definitely helped me cope with the stress I was dealing with at the time and I found the peace I needed in Prospect Park.
I also learned that Tiffany Chen was the Tai Chi instructor in the movie. Tiffany’s father Grandmaster William CC Chen had taught my longtime Tai Chi teacher so there was even more of a connection.
This past weekend I went to see the movie The Intern directed by Nancy Meyers. Being a fan of both Robert De Nero and Anne Hathaway I knew I would like this movie. The Intern was a story that very well could happen in today’s modern world. Robert De Nero and Anne Hathaway had great onscreen chemistry and I could see them starring in “The Intern 2” or something else together in the future.
Robert De Nero’s character was very calm, grounded and likable, it was just icing on the cake that his character Ben was a practitioner of Tai Chi. It was interesting to see through film editing that only some of the most interesting movements were shown and in no particular form sequence. Even though the Tai Chi scenes were very short I really liked how the director portrayed Tai Chi in this film. It was shown in a positive way and I would recommend this movie to everyone. I enjoyed “The Intern”.
The first time I stumbled upon Jin Young’s martial art video’s on youtube was a few years ago. At that time most of his videos were about the art of Wing Chun. Even though I was studying Tai Chi a lot of the concepts he talked about and demonstrated were very similar to what I was being taught. His teaching style along with the demonstration definitely enhanced my own understanding.
A teacher can explain something to a student over and over but the student may only hear it when they are ready.
Sometimes hearing it explained in a different way can give you that “aha” moment.
Jin Young has recently created a youtube channel called “The Art of Pressure fighting”.
“I am dedicated to constantly improving my method and philosophy while sharing my knowledge with everyone. This ever-evolving method of developing “efficient skill, I now call The Art of Pressure Fighting“. – Jin Young
I highly recommend watching the videos Jin Young shares.