During today’s class, you will learning fundamental Tai Chi movements, combining the structural alignment and breathing methods learned during Class 1 (Zhan Zhuang) with the footwork learned during Class 2 (Stepping Methods). Your learning material for today encompasses five of the most representative movements from Yang Style Tai Chi, including different stepping directions as well as a variety of applications, from grappling and locking to striking and kicking.
The key takeaway from today’s material is not the movements themselves, which, whilst important, only provide a surface-level understanding of Tai Chi. Most important in your practice should be the principles underlying your practice; once understood, these principles can be applied to any Tai Chi learning scenario, allowing you to progress far more quickly in your further Tai Chi studies. These fundamental principles include:
Elevate the crown, maintaining a naturally buoyant feeling in the head.
Keep the back upright, with good alignment and posture.
Coordinate the upper and lower body, with the steps and movements of the arms connected via the waist & the whole body moving as one unit.
Eyes follow the movements - eyes are the outward expression of your intention, and should lightly rest on your movements and follow your actions.
Maintain a continuous flow of movement, with each posture transitioning seamlessly into the next with an unbroken chain of full-body motion.
Control your centre of gravity and weight placement, shifting your weight gradually from leg to leg; in this way, there is a constant Yin-Yang interplay between the two legs of being “full” and “empty”, “substantial” and “insubstantial”.
Relax the waist, using it to drive the body’s actions in a stable and flexible manner.
Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows; this will allow you to soften your movements and help ensure good alignment of your joints, key to developing internal power.
Relax the mind and exercise the body, with the mind quietly concentrated on the practice, paying attention to both internal and external aspects of the training.
Practice the Six Harmonies; these are divided into three internal harmonies (heart and mind together, mind and breath together, breath and power together) and three external harmonies (shoulders and hips together, elbows and knees together, hands and feet together).
If you train today’s material paying attention to these principles, you will gain greater benefits from your practice and make quicker progress in your Tai Chi. Good luck!