Getting Started with Tai Chi
From one perspective, starting to learn the art of Tai Chi Chuan is very easy. You don’t need to buy special equipment, specialized Tai Chi shoes or any specific clothes. You also don’t need a lot of space. Depending on the form, you may can practice on your patio, that little courtyard behind your office, or even your living room. The practice also doesn’t take a lot of time. The short forms often take less than five minutes. You can get in an entire practice session while you’re waiting on the coffee to brew.
You also don’t have to look far to find lessons. As Tai Chi has grown ever more popular around the world, there are a wide variety of books and DVDs with easy-to-follow instructions for learning on your own. Most major cities have gyms or fitness studios that offer Tai Chi classes, or there may be groups that meet in a local park for morning Tai Chi practice.
But there is also a perspective on learning Tai Chi that many people find confusing or even overwhelming. There are a wide variety of Tai Chi styles, and a complex number of forms within each style. Which one is right for you?
And then there are all the Chinese terms, exotic-sounding movements, and sometimes opaque and mysterious “Tai Chi principles” that may seem to border on the realms of nonsense and magical fantasy. Westerners are sometimes left scratching their heads while trying to “Repulse the Monkey” as they breath into their Dan Tien to get their Qi flowing. Throw in some quotes by Lao Tzu and what started as a gentle exercise becomes very alien and nearly incomprehensible.
That’s where this Tai Chi Transformation guide comes in. A great many of the Tai Chi resources out there either take a very dense and academic approach, or try to wrap the practice in Kung Fu mysticism. We’re going to take a very different approach, and simply decode everything about the practice of Tai Chi into common sense, easy-to-understand language.
As we learn, we’re also going to have a lot of fun. As you’ll learn in the history section, Tai Chi grew out of the fertile ground of Taoist philosophy where playfulness and following the Way of nature were the guiding principles. As one of my own teachers is fond of saying: “All that’s required is that you breathe and smile. If you can’t do both of those, then something is wrong.”
About This Section
This Getting Started section will give you the background and context to successfully learn the art of Tai Chi and integrate it into your daily life. We’ll start by explaining how Tai Chi is different from traditional exercise, then move on to the unique Tai Chi Transformation approach. From there we’ll move into a little bit of background to prepare you for learning the Tai Chi forms themselves.