This blog post was originally published as a podcast in June 2009. I’m slowly transcribing all of my podcasts, to share them with my readers who either cannot play podcasts on their computer, or who simply prefer reading instead of listening.

Tonight, for some of my students, it was the end of their second year with me, and their third year overall playing T’ai Chi. One of the things we concentrated on tonight was the difference between when they started and where they are now. One of the points that was made, which I thought was very valid, was that it is the regular practice – playing T’ai Chi regularly – that makes the difference in how you feel. You feel completely different after a while. As you progress, you feel different again, and the feeling keeps changing and it keeps improving.

The reason it gets even better is that it is the practice of the form, and the application of the principles to the form that ultimately change you on the inside, both mentally and physically.

On the website, we’ve got a lot of studies listed, including medical studies of how practicing T’ai Chi improves various aspects of people’s health. You don’t have to take my word for it [in fact, you never should have to – everything any T’ai Chi teacher tells you should be verifiable and backed up by evidence – Ed] you can go and see what medical studies – proper research – has been finding out.

Those things aside, I always come back to the point that T’ai Chi is not a mechanical skill that you learn. It is not a tool that you pick up and use for a certain purpose and then put back. T’ai Chi is something that you make part of you – it becomes part of you, and you become part of it. It is a symbiotic relationship, and those people who come to class learning the form to keep themselves happy, and who don’t practice during the week (they only play the form in the class) and then drop it for whatever reason – they’ve completely missed out on what T’ai Chi has to offer them for the rest of their lives.

If you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re thinking that you don’t know when you’re going to practice between classes, I imagine that your teacher would be like my teacher, and like me, imploring you to practice this every day, twice a day if you can, rain or shine. No matter how you feel, do what you can every day, and the benefits mentally and physically will soon add up.

3 Comments

  1. Teapotmonk says:
    March 5th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing those views on Tai Chi. One thing is to practice the form, the other is to integrate the principles in to life. So often Ive know tai chi players that either do their daily practice without feeling, or fail to see the wider applications of the practice outside the form. Its great to hear others discussing this issue.

  2. Stuart Herbert says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    What attracted me to my teacher was exactly this point: he strove to integrate his Tai Chi principles into his daily life. I’m a firm believer that Tai Chi is something we live (in our own way) not something we simply learn.

  3. Russell says:
    April 8th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    You are so right that the daily practice, even just 10-15 minutes a couple of times a day, is the key to really connecting with the tai chi practice. The practice is like a tonic for body and mind. Those few minutes a day are the time you take to restore and strengthen yourself and should be as integral as taking a shower or eating a good meal.