TAI CHI FOR BEGINNERS
One day many years ago I was speaking with a friend of mine named Tony. He mentioned to me that he was going to attend a local Tai Chi class later that evening. I always was interested in Taiji and thought it would be great to try Tai Chi as well. Later that evening we both attended the class. The Tai Chi class was an adult education class given by an Aikido master who was teaching the Cheng Man Ching short form. There were about six students in the class and I enjoyed it and was hooked. Although it was Tony’s first and last class I have been practicing Tai Chi for almost thirty years now. Tai Chi became a passion for me and has been an amazing addition to my life. When I first began learning Tai Chi I didn’t know anything other than that I was interested in learning Taiji. I didn’t know anything about it other than what I had seen in movies. I didn't know that there were different Tai Chi styles. I began my Tai chi journey learning the Cheng Man Ching Short form then later the Yang 24 form, William C.C. Chen’s Yang Short form, Chen 56 cannon fist form and now Yu Gou Shun’s Chen style 22 form.
My Advice for a Tai Chi Beginner
If you are a beginner to Tai Chi you should familiarize yourself with the different Tai Chi styles. This way you can choose for yourself which style you are interested in. If you find a style you like you are more apt to practice it. Most modern styles of Tai Chi trace their roots to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu (Hao), and Sun. You can look them up on YouTube and get an idea of what they look like. My favorites Tai Chi styles are the Yang and Chen forms. Yang is the most widely practiced Tai Chi form.
It is essential to put the effort in and practice Tai Chi at least once a day. Many people begin Tai Chi but don't want to practice and learn the sequence. If you find this is you I hope you will continue and persevere. If you don't continue Tai Chi don't give up there are some simple Qigong exercises that when practiced will give you many of the same health benefits. I would suggest doing a search on YouTube for Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong. There are many free videos on YouTube that you can follow along with. Once you begin learning about Qigong hopefully you may find yourself wanting more. Your local library will have some books on Qigong where you may read and learn more.
Finding a Good Tai Chi Teacher
After you have familiarized yourself with the different Taiji styles you should try and locate a Tai Chi class in your local area. Most Tai Chi classes I have attended offer a free introductory class. I suggest trying out a few different schools. I would look for a Tai Chi school with a lineage. This way if you ever leave the school for any reason you will be able to find another teacher that teaches the same style.
Stay away from the teacher who doesn’t teach. The one who lets you follow along with the group without saying much. Tai Chi is much more than a choreographed slow dance. Even if your intent is to learn a meditative form I feel the true health benefits do not reveal themselves unless you have a good understanding of rooting, posture and body mechanics.
Should I Learn Tai Chi Online?
Learning Tai Chi online should be a student's last resort. I receive many questions every day regarding this topic. It is my honest opinion that the best way to learn Tai Chi Chuan is to learn in person from a competent Tai Chi instructor. I feel that it is important for a teacher to make necessary observations and form corrections in person. Some of the ways that online Tai Chi instruction would be beneficial is if you already learned a particular Tai Chi form and you want to be part of a continuing online instruction class or if you are receiving a one on one personal Tai Chi online lesson.
If you are still adamant about learning Tai chi online without personal instruction please check out Qigong (a Chinese system of physical exercises and breathing control related to the cultivation of energy). I feel Qigong can be easily learned online from a video. The individual postures of Qigong can give you similar health benefits to Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a series of martial Qigong movements that seamlessly flow together. Qigong is relatively easy to learn and you can feel its benefits almost immediately. Take your time and learn one Qigong movement at a time until the movement is memorized.
There are so many free instructional videos posted on YouTube for you to choose from. Like anything else, it is wise to choose a reputable teacher. The set of Qigong exercises I currently practice is the "Eight Pieces of Brocade". One of the teachers I would recommend would be Dr. Yang Jwing Ming.
Questions are gladly answered please feel free to reach out to me here.
Take a little time and do some research for yourself it will be well worth it.Click here to find a Tai Chi or Martial Art school near you.
Click here for my personal Tai Chi book Recommendations.