Tai Chi for Beginners

Many years ago, I had a conversation with my friend Tony. He mentioned that he was going to attend a local Tai Chi class that evening, and I was immediately intrigued. That night, we both attended the class, which was taught by an Aikido master who was teaching the Cheng Man Ching short form to a small group of students. I was hooked after just one class, while Tony never returned.

Now, almost thirty years later, Tai Chi has become a passion of mine and has been an amazing addition to my life. When I first started learning Tai Chi, I knew very little about it and had only seen it in movies. I had no idea that there were different Tai Chi styles. I began my Tai Chi journey with the Cheng Man Ching Short form, and later learned 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're new to Tai Chi, it's important to familiarize yourself with the different styles available so you can choose the one that interests you the most. By finding a style you like, you'll be more motivated to practice regularly. The five traditional schools of Tai Chi include Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu (Hao), and Sun. Yang being the most widely practiced form. You can easily search for them on YouTube to get an idea of what they look like. Personally, I enjoy practicing the Yang and Chen forms.

Committing to daily practice is crucial to seeing the benefits of Tai Chi. Some people start Tai Chi but don't want to put in the effort to learn and memorize the sequence. If you find yourself in this position, don't give up! There are simple Qigong exercises that offer many of the same health benefits as Tai Chi. Look up "Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong" on YouTube to find free instructional videos that you can follow along with. If you're interested in learning more about Qigong, your local library likely has some books on the subject.

Finding a Good Tai Chi Teacher

After you have familiarized yourself with the different Tai Chi 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".

Questions are gladly answered please feel free to reach out to me.

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