Sifu's Training Insights

How To Get Maximum Results
From Your Tai Chi Program

Tai Chi Class

In designing your Tai Chi exercise program several approaches may be considered. You must first determine what development you are primarily interested in obtaining. Practitioners of Tai Chi may wish to improve their: Circulation, Energy level (CHI), Respiratory ability, Strength, Flexibility, Endurance, Balance, Immunity system, or correct a specific injury or ailment. Of course, Tai Chi is also used to develop psychological and mental states such as concentration, memory, focus, awareness, calmness, and peace of mind, meditation and spiritual evolution.

The decision to select which areas to work on is purely an individual choice and is not predetermined because you are doing Tai Chi. Certainly, you may be limited in choices simply due to time constraints, lack of space or desire. It is also likely that you may have studied only specific parts of Tai Chi, for example most students have concentrated on learning a Tai Chi Form and may not have covered other aspects-weapons, self defense, push hands, sparring, meditation, breathing techniques, Chi Kung, Nui Kung, etc.

Those who have studied Tai Chi for some time soon find that the amount of information they have available is too great to be effectively reviewed in any one session. At one time I decided to, just out of curiosity, perform every Tai Chi exercise I had learned the recommended number of repetitions. My workout ended 14 hours later! And that was back in 1975. I have since learned many more exercises and have no idea how long a workout like that might be today. But even if you had all the time you needed to go over these exercises that would not be very efficient. The result would be over training leading to injury, burnout and boredom.

An appropriate modification is to create a training schedule where you rotate through these different elements periodically, as you desire, to obtain your goals. Review your training schedule on a regular basis, perhaps every other month; to be sure you are not overlooking any important elements that require your attention.

Many students find that they are able to benefit from moving from a more yin state to a more yang state during their workout. Begin with seated meditation, and then proceed to standing meditation followed by your Tai Chi Form. At that time you may add any other exercises which would usually be considered the most yang techniques for this workout: Weapons forms, self defense, sparring, push hands, chi kung, Nui kung, etc. Complete your workout by reversing the order of exercises, not necessarily performing the same exercises or the same duration, to return to a calm, relaxed and centered state.

Even if the only area in Tai Chi you have covered is the Tai Chi Form (Short or Long), there are countless ways to adjust your workout to keep it fresh, interesting and to continue to develop. You can vary how you perform Tai Chi physically: slow/fast, high/low stance, concentrating on technique, concentrating on the quality of your moves. You can also change your mental perspective (Mind Intent) by visualizing different situations such as self defense applications of each posture, health benefits, energy flow, mental awareness (Moving Meditation) and focusing on the Demonstration of the Taoist philosophy through the Form. [Note: You may email me at sifu@taichischool.com for additional suggestions.]

Some Tai Chi players believe that all they should do is practice their Tai Chi Form. I agree that everything you can gain from Tai Chi is available in your Form. However, it would require an intense and profound study to be able to derive that benefit from the Form. Many may leave Tai Chi for various reasons, including boredom from constant repetition without variation. Tai Chi is a living art and we should all continue to nurture Tai Chi as it nurtures us. Explore, experiment and have fun with Tai Chi as you allow Tai Chi to become a part of your life.