Sifu's Training Insights

The Tai Chi Form: Slow or Fast?
Sifu Colon

There are several reasons why it is beneficial to perform the Tai Chi Form slowly. There are also valid reasons and circumstances in which the Tai Chi Form should be done fast. In performing Tai Chi slowly you have the opportunity to think about, analyze and feel what is occurring in the exercise. It is also easier to recognize and correct errors in balance, coordination, posture, etc. Moving slowly allows you to focus on relaxation during each movement and to coordinate your breathing correctly with the moves for the purpose of maximizing a strong energy flow for improved health.Slow Tai Chi helps us to "Circulate and conserve the Chi" which is one of the main Taoist methods of improving our health and increasing our vitality.

Think about any physical exercise you're able to perform slowly for one repetition, such as one push up or one sit up. Now, try doing that one repetition very, very slowly. You will soon recognize that a great deal more effort is required. Muscles are being used more precisely and completely. This is an additional benefit of slow Tai Chi practice.

When we become more deeply relaxed, which usually occurs in slow Tai Chi practice, we begin to create a meditative rhythm we call "Moving Meditation." Although it is not impossible to experience this expanded level of awareness when moving quickly ("Runners' High", "Being in the zone") it is much easier to allow this expression to spring forth naturally while moving slowly and with the aid of visualization techniques(i.e. gently rocking a baby to sleep).

Fast Tai Chi can be a lot of fun. (Yes, Tai Chi is supposed to be fun! ) The difference in speed can help us to realize different feelings of flow, power, etc. Fast Tai Chi should probably be practiced only after sufficient time has elapsed while performing slow Tai Chi to have achieved the various above mentioned benefits. At that time, fast Tai Chi will help you to discover how to release explosive power (Fa Jing) which is absolutely necessary if you wish to use Tai Chi for self defense or sparring.

Therefore, it is recommended that you practice slow and fast Tai Chi Form when appropriate (although not at the same time!).