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Essential Tai Chi Principles

Written by Sigung Norman Smith
on Thursday, May 5, 2005 9:03:05 AM

Essential Tai Chi Principles

Tai chi contains essential principles, all of which are fundamental and similar in the different styles. When you concentrate on the essential, you speed up your progression, and you improve, no matter what style you do. Don't worry about the minor details. Focus your practice on these principles.

If you feel that is too long and ten minutes is the best for you, simply divide it into three sessions to cover the same content. Tai chi is not about how many forms you can learn, and how fast you are learning. Rather it is more about how well you understand the principles and integrates them into your practice. Practicing with visualization can be just as effective.

The Qigong exercises can be brought up anytime, for example when you are sitting down watching T.V. or waiting for someone. You can physically or mentally adjust your posture, be aware of the dan tian (3 in. below navel )and breathe gently using abdominal muscles.

There is no hurry, pacing your-self is part of tai chi philosophy; tai chi is a way of life to many of us - the way of life is nature. Nature moves when it is ready, no one needs to hurry nature and it would not work if you tried.

Remember in tai chi, it is important to control your movements so that they are slow, even and continuous rather than moving fast and getting over as many movements as possible. Tai chi is different from the fast paced world we are now a part of. Tai chi philosophy is that moving slower may get you closer to nature and health faster, and moving in curves can be more effective than a straight line.

It is always a good idea to check with your health professional every now and report how you are getting along.


1. Make your movements slow, even and continuous, maintaining the same speed throughout. In other words, control your movements.

2. Move as though there is a gentle resistance. Imagine that the air around you is dense and you have to move against this dense air. This will help you cultivate your inner force.


3. Be aware of your weight transference. First, centre yourself, then control your balance, keeping your body alignments, and when you move backwards, forwards or sideways, touch down first, then gradually and consciously transfer your weight forward or backward.

4. Body Alignments. Be sure you keep your body in an upright position.


5. Loosening the joints. It is important to do the Tai Chi movements in a relaxed manner but relaxation here does not mean that all your muscles go floppy. You should be stretching, loosening. Try consciously and gently stretch every joint from within, almost like an internal expansion of the joints.

6. Mental Focus. Be sure not to let your mind distract what you are doing and focus on your movement so that your internal and external are well integrated.

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