Tag Archives: tai chi training

Stillness Is Death

When is the body ever completely still?

Only in death is there no movement.

If you are living, you are breathing.

If you are breathing, you are moving.

The movements of tai chi ride upon the breath wave

like flotsam following an ocean current.

The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone.

The thigh bone is connected to the shin bone.

The shin bone is connected to the ankle bone.

Thus when one thing moves, so does the next

and the next

and the next.

How could it be but thus?

As long as sequential movement is not arrested

by tension, resistance, and stress

the breath moves the body

and the body, in turn, moves the breath

and the chain is unbroken

so that the crown of the head

and the tips of the toes

are bosom buddies.

What affects the minutest part

affects the whole

and what affects the whole

affects the minutest part.

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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Flow, Tai Chi


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Tai Chi For Kids?

Tai chi trains and refines natural movement, which on the surface may seem like a paradox. Why would natural movement need to be trained? In actuality, natural movement gets covered up by unnatural habits, which have to be untrained in order to allow natural movement to emerge and flourish.

Kids already know how to move naturally, so trying to teach them tai chi has little effect in this regard. People usually don’t seek out things like tai chi and yoga until they realize that they have lost their natural movement and want to get it back.

However, teaching kids how to consciously move naturally can help prevent bad habits from forming, and improve their coordination beyond what it would otherwise be. Furthermore, there are few things more powerful than a practice that is continued for a lifetime, so imparting an appreciation of their natural movement and full range of motion, as well as the discipline required to maintain them, is one of the most valuable gifts that a child can be given.

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Teaching


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Practicing Tai Chi When You’re Sick

The general rule for tai chi practice is to work at 70% of your maximum capacity.  This applies to intensity, exertion, duration, and range of motion.  If you exhaust yourself your coordination will suffer, and you will also tax your body’s compensatory mechanisms, which is counterproductive from the perspective of tai chi.  The 70% rule allows for a gradual but continuous and sustainable trajectory of development.  We have all heard of “no pain no gain”, but by exercising consistently at 70% of your body’s capacity, you will see incremental improvement without the regression that inevitably follows over-exertion.

If you are recovering from injury or illness, however, the 70% rule changes to the 40% rule.  Working at this level of intensity is comfortable, and will stimulate your vital processes without taxing your body’s energy reserves, thereby giving you the maximum healing benefit.  This rule applies whenever your body or any part of it is in a weakened state, either from acute injury or overall illness.


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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Health, Tai Chi Practice


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Preserve Or Adapt?

Which is the mark of a good teacher? To teach exactly the way he was taught? Or to adapt his teaching to this day, to this student or group of students before him?

Which is the mark of perfection? Stasis, or evolution?

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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Teaching


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Non-Volitional Movement

An experiment: sit or stand erect, and let your arms hang by your sides.  Lift them upwards swiftly, so that they are straight overhead.  Do this a couple of times and notice how your shoulders and trapezius engage with tension to create this motion.

Now let your arms hang by your sides, completely relaxed.  Let your shoulders and arms become lighter and lighter, until they are so light that they begin to float.  Let them to continue to float upwards, consciously relaxing your shoulders, moving as slowly and steadily as they can, barely overcoming the pull of gravity, until they are straight overhead, or as high as they can go without creating tension in your shoulders.

If you can feel a difference between these two types of movement, then you are experiencing the contrast between volitional and non-volitional movement.  Volitional movement is how most of us move most of the time, by creating tension through exertion.  Non-volitional movement is willed but not forced, intended but not demanded.

Your tai chi practice should cultivate non-volitional movement and avoid volitional movement as much as possible.

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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Exercise, Tai Chi Practice


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Dychtwald on Personal Limits

Excerpted from Bodymind, by Ken Dychtwald:

To state the extremes: If I never explore my limits, my bodymind will gradually tighten and become unconscious. If I regularly explore my limits in a caring and adventuresome fashion, I will expand and grow in a vital fashion. But if I try to push myself past where I am honestly able to go, I will no longer be practicing “yoga” but instead will be practicing “greed”, and i will probably be met by pain and disease. Stated simply, it is the difference between ignoring yourself, making love to yourself, and raping yourself.

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Tai Chi Practice


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Mind Regulation

Mind regulation suffuses and sustains body regulation and breath regulation.  It is the practice of pure awareness.  To engage mind regulation, continually return to present moment awareness, and focus on body sensations.  Observe thoughts, but do not follow them.  Drop your locus of control into your center, and reside in the detached awareness of the observing consciousness.  An object on which to focus the awareness, such as a mantra or image, is optional.

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Tai Chi Practice


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