Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Keep the essentials in Tai Chi

Sometimes when I teach Tai Chi, the Chinese proverb “Qu Wu Cun Jing” comes to mind. In Chinese, Qu means get rid of; Wu means weeds; Cun means keep; and Jing means chives. Essentially, we should get rid of the weeds and keep the chives. Figuratively, the whole sentence means “Keep the essentials and get rid of the things which are not necessary.” 

Anytime we learn something new, we may unknowingly transfer bad habits from our daily postures, in other words, the weeds. However, many of us are not able to distinguish the weeds from the chives on our own because they look very similar. A good teacher can tell the difference and give you advice accordingly. For example, sometimes I tell my beginner students to relax their shoulders and keep their body vertical because new students are not aware that they have raised their shoulders and they are leaning forward or backward, causing bad form. In many cases, the job of the Tai Chi teacher is to help you discard such habits. The following is a list of these habits. Removing them from your form can help you develop better Tai Chi skills. 

  • Raising your shoulders
  • Raising your elbows
  • Leaning your body backwards or forwards
  • Allowing your stomach to protrude, thus not observing the proper position of the acupuncture points called dantian 
  • Tilting your shoulders while moving
  • Not transferring weight properly from one leg to the other 
  • Not placing your foot lightly on ground
  • Not turning your waist while moving
  • Moving your body up and down too much
  • Tilting your head
  • Not leaving enough space between your arms and body
  • Not coordinating the movement of your upper body and lower body 
  • Stiffening your waist
  • Using force

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