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On their first day of a Tai Chi class, a student is taught the basic Tai Chi principles and shown the opening Tai Chi movement. After practicing what they learned in class, the student then goes home and practice. When the student returns the following week, the teacher observes. Did the student practice? Does the student remember any of the Tai Chi principles?
As the weeks pass, the student will add another movement to what they previously learned. One move becomes two, then three, etc. Slowly it becomes a Tai Chi form. You hear the Tai Chi principles over and over, and soon they are memorized, and after constant correction, your body recognizes proper alignment.
Sometimes Tai Chi classes can be filled with a lot of information. Sometimes too much. How could anyone remember what they learned in class a week prior? My recommendation would be a Tai Chi notebook.
When I started learning Tai Chi in 1993, I was taught a move and would practice the Tai Chi move all week. When I returned the following week, I couldn't wait to show my teacher what I had practiced. When the teacher saw I could perform the movement, the teacher would show me the next.
When I first began learning Tai Chi, no one mentioned anything as simple as a Tai Chi notebook. I know that seems strange. I am not sure why. My teacher did tell me to buy a book called The Tai Chi Handbook by Herman Kauz. It showed a similar yang Tai Chi form, it wasn't exactly like the Tai Chi form I was learning, but it was very close. When I didn't have access to my teacher during the week, I would use the book and photos as a reference. It was better than nothing.
One day I decided to bring a notebook and a pencil to class. The book was nothing fancy. I called this book my Tai Chi notebook. I remember I was the only one who brought a Tai Chi notebook to class. Each week I wrote down notes to help me remember what I learned in class. My notes could be as simple as individual words, a quickly drawn picture, arrows showing direction, etc. These handwritten notes helped me to remember what I learned that day. Everything I learned seemed clear in class, but once I left class, I might easily forget. The notebook helped me with refining my Tai Chi form.
If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to focus on learning and practicing one thing a week. Build it into memory. Once you have applied it to your Tai Chi form, move on to another. Trying to grasp too many things at once may be overwhelming.
My Tai Chi notebook was a great way to record what I learned in class. I would recommend it to anyone taking Tai Chi. Bring a Tai Chi notebook with them to class. Years later, you will look at this Tai Chi notebook as a keepsake.
Your notebook does not have to be anything elaborate. It could be something as simple as a notepad.