Monday, November 1, 2010

Does Simplified Tai Chi mean Simplified Benefits?

This fall as new classes began, I heard a student ask a very popular question about how long it would take to finish the whole Tai Chi form and if we are teaching the simplified form. My answer, of course, is that we are teaching the long form but simplified form. Doing Tai Chi is just like cooking Chinese stew. If you simplify the recipe and skip a few ingredients, it doesn’t taste the same as the original. If you want all of the health and martial arts benefits of Tai Chi, then you need to learn the whole form.

I have heard from some old Tai Chi masters in China that the best way to learn the forms is through private instruction. Usually it takes a week or two to learn one or two movements. Sometimes it takes longer if you don’t get your movements right. With private instruction, you don’t learn a new movement until you get the current movement right. The disadvantage of taking a group lesson is that it goes too fast. Teachers need to follow the schedule and make sure you learn a certain number of moves in a session. In a group class there may be many students who know what’s going on, but there can also be slower learners. But even if you take a private lesson from your teacher every day, it takes at least two years to master the complete Tai Chi set. Now you can assess the quality of somebody’s Tai Chi set if he says he took two years to finish it or just six months.

copyright by Huan's Tai Chi 2010

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