Monday, October 26, 2009

Low or High stance for your Tai Chi?

When I was in Amherst last weekend, a student asked me which form would be the right one to perform, the high stance, or low stance form.

Actually, we have mainly three different stances for Yang Style Tai Chi, the high stance, medium stance and low stance. Usually we recommend that beginners concentrate on the medium stance. The higher stance will help you with relaxation. Your legs are like the root of a tree. The lower stance will help you gain energy and strength and strengthen your root. For people who don’t have a lot of flexibility and need to relax more, I recommend that he/she do the high stance form once and then do the medium high stance form next. Once you’ve become more relaxed, you can try to go on to the medium stance. Once you also feel relaxed with medium stance form, you can try to start doing the lower stance form.

It’s a mistake to go from the lower stance to the higher stance in the same form. For example: when beginners do “Repulse the Monkey”, they tend to go up and down. Staying at the same height in the same form is required. When a student had his butt come out while trying to do the lower form, I recommended that he stay in the high form to tuck the butt in and keep the body vertical to the ground. When the butt is out it’s hard to gather Qi/energy to your Dan Tian (Red Field acupuncture point).

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi '09

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gaining Real Calmness for Tai Chi

During our last class, there was a dancing class in another room while we were having our Tai Chi Class. It was quiet noisy. A few students couldn’t concentrate very well. I told my students, “We often say in Chinese, ‘If you are calm in a quiet environment, it’s not the real calm. If you are calm in a noisy environment, that’s the real calm.’ Today is a challenge for you.”

Tai Mountain is the biggest mountain in China. Another saying of real calmness is
“Show no anxiety while Tai mountain explodes in front of you.” If you can concentrate just on Tai Chi and forgot about the environment and even yourself, then you’ve achieved a new level of calmness.

For beginners, while performing in front of people, it’s better to just imagine yourself perform the whole set alone. Your form will come out more naturally. On the other hand, it’s also helpful to imagine an opponent while doing your moves, so you can sense the resistance while doing your moves. You can also imagine applying application/usages on this invisible opponent. That will help you increase your energy level and understanding of details of the movements.

Whether or not there are people around, using the above methods will help you improve your Tai Chi performance.

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi '09

Monday, October 12, 2009

How do you make time for Tai Chi and other Things?

Once in a while, I will ask my students after warm ups,
“How many of you did Tai Chi at home this week?” I often see
all the hands raised up.
Sometimes, I see a few people not raising their hands.

I speak with these few people during our class break. Usually, a student complains that he/she had a super busy week at work and home and didn’t have time to do Tai Chi that week. I would tell them,

“if I missed my practice a day, my father would tell me,

‘Do your Tai Chi, and go to bed an hour later tonight or get up one hour early tomorrow and make up for your Tai Chi.’

Most times he wouldn’t give me the second choice, he didn’t like leaving something important to do for the next day.”

I really think it’s how people prioritize their to do list and how they make their choices. They might think Tai Chi is important, but not urgent. Once I asked my Yang Style teacher if it’d be ok if I missed one day of practice in a month. He told me, “If you know that doing 2 hours of Tai Chi can keep your body healthy and thus gains 1 hour of extra life for you. When not doing Tai chi for a day, you lose 1 hour of life every day, Will you not do Tai Chi for even a day? “

Cooking your dinner might be more urgent and important, but you can pay for a food delivery from a take out place to save time for you, so you have time for Tai Chi while waiting for food delivery.

On the other hand, there are things like watching a TV show or a game. These are pleasure and excitement. They are less important, but people often choose these because it might be more enjoyable. These are time wasters. You can have them when you have more time or tape it and watch later when you have time. You shouldn’t choose them when your schedule is tight.

I hope I will see all the hands raised up all the time in my class after they read this article. I trust you guys, but will you gain 1 hour of life for yourself every day?

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi '09

Monday, October 5, 2009

Do Heaven and Hell exist?

Zhang Chu asked monk Zhi Chang.
“ Do Heaven and Hell exist?”
“Yes, they exist.” Monk Zhi Chang answered.
“ That’s confusing, when I was meditating with Monk Jin San, Jin San said ‘No’ to this question.” Said Zhang Chu.
“Do you have a wife and Children?” Zhi Chang Monk asked.
“ A wife and two kids.”
“ What about monk Jin San?” Zhi Chang Monk asked again.
“ Monk Jin San is a monk, he can’t get married!” Zhang Chu became angry.
“Well, just on the family situation. If you were in the same situation as Monk Jin San, then you could say ‘No’.”

Why might I give two different corrections to the same posture on two different students on Tai Chi? Why does their final posture look a bit different? Why do I give two different usages when I teach in two different Tai Chi Classes? It’s the same answer Monk Zhi Chang gives to us on Heaven and Hell.

Copyrighted By Huan's Tai Chi '09

Friday, October 2, 2009

What we see from "Lie Tzu studies Archery"

When Lao Tzu left China, Guan Yi Tzu (关尹子) was the last person Lao Tzu talked to in China. He was the gate keeper that let Lao Tzu out of China.

Lie Yukou (列禦寇; 400 BCE) is considered the author of the Daoist book Lie Tzu, which uses his honorific name Lie Tzu (列子).

Lie Tzu studied archery. He shot many times, finally he got one on the target. He reported his archery situation to Guan Yi Tzu.

Guan Yi Tzu asked, “Do you know why you got that one on target?”
Lie Tzu said “Not yet.”
Lie Tzu kept practice. Three years later, he reported his archery situation to Guan Yi Tzu again.

Guan Yi Tzu asked again “Do you know why you got that one on target?”
Lie Tzu said, “I found out the cause this time”
Guan Yi Tzu said, “ Very good, you must remember the cause, managing a country and treating people have to be the same way.”

When we doing Tai Chi, we should not just mimic what the teacher does, we need to find out the cause for each movement. If you can understand that, then you can be one step further.