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Decode Tai Chi PRACTICE

by Dr. Lewis Tisher, ATCQA-certified Tai Chi Instructor (Level-II)

Practicing is one of the most important aspects of Tai Chi. If we take the letters in "Practice" and examine them, they each become a story about Tai Chi practice -
P — Posture
R — Relax
A — Activity
C — Coordination
T — Tempo
I —  Individual
C — Consistent
E — Enjoyment

P — Posture

Posture is one of those items you take care of first. Practice proper posture throughout the sessions.  The groups I work with have an easily remembered saying:

"Remind yourself of all those good things.  Pelvis tilted forward.  Lower abdomen pulled in.   Head being pulled up as if with a cord from the crown. Chin pulled in slightly. Shoulders slightly rounded. Mouth closed and breathing through the nose."

Remind yourself to keep the good posture all through your practices.

R — Relax

Once your posture is at the proper alignment, it is easy to relax.

Tai Chi is performed from a relaxed state of the body and a relaxed frame of mind.  There are no worry-stressors when you body is in the relaxed state.  Your breathing, using the diaphragm, allows a maximum portion of your lungs to be filled with air.

A — Activity

The activity is something you have planned.  For instance, every day you'll practice what you had planned.

Your plan could well contain to different items.  A series of those things you like to do and a series of those things you don't like but need to do well.

Your plan could well include a list of those exercises you need to do to improve

 proficiency.  For instance, one or two of the balance exercises need to be done every day.     

C — Coordination

To coordinate means to arrange in the proper relative position; to harmonize in a common action or effort; to work together harmoniously.

One of the most important of Tai Chi is to have the parts of the body working together for a common goal.  When one thinks of the waist as a prime mover, the other parts could coordinate among themselves and the waist.

T — Tempo

TTempo is important. But before we even consider the tempo, there must be movement.

There are a series of forms, or postures, and there are a series of transitional movements to get us from one posture to another.

We can obviously go through the postures rapidly, and that may be beneficial at times, but doing them rapidly is of little value if we do not do them properly.

Doing a form repetitively and slowly helps us acquire the grace that makes us look like we really know what we are doing.

I — Individual

The main person involved in the practicing activity is you. You will have those times when you are exercising and practicing with your class. These are important for camaraderie and for the social aspect, whether before, during, or after class.

Another of the important points is that Tai Chi, as we perform it, is not a contest. It is an individual effort, as is your practice. It is not competition when you practice to improve.

If we were to be in a competitive situation involving other practitioners, we could well  work for coordinated activities. However, one of the most valued points of Tai Chi is the individual performance, and improvement, and pride in accomplishment, as we work on our physical improvement, our mental involvement, and our character development.

C — Consistent

As students, and we are all students, we need to be consistent with our practice. More than doing the forms exactly the same is a stronger point of doing them every day.

As an instructor, I note that my students do not all do exactly the same movements as the others in the class.  They do not always do exactly the same move themselves from session to session.  The important point is that they are doing the movements and improving everyday.

E — Enjoyment

In addition to simply practicing everyday, each and every student must be enjoying the dedication. Tai Chi exercise is challenging and completing the activity for the day is rewarding. Making a daily habit of doing something that irritates us would indeed be foolish.&   

Accomplishing and perfecting the postures, the transitions, and the breathing are rewarding. The completion, followed by the relaxation and the knowledge of your doing and accomplishing, is your own personal reward.  It is achieved through.

So next time when you think of Tai Chi practice, you could well be thinking of the most important items that go into the practice.




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