Thursday, February 17, 2011


Recently I came across an article written by a professional coach of Tai-chi complaining that nowadays many of his students fail to learn tai-chi due to lack of patience. One student, he wrote, after paying for his tuition, only attended one lesson, and said: thank you, your practice is good but I don't have the patience for such practice. The irony is tai-chi and similar form of practice are mind-body exercise with the objective of training one's patience or calm one's restless mind. A classic question of chicken first or egg first!

As a coach with a number of backyard students, I have experience of this issue. When I learned the stuff from my father when I was a little boy, I had to endure nearly a year's exercise of the tai-chi form before I got to know what tai-chi is all about! And that was the time I was "forced" to learn the stuff. What I'm saying is I can appreciate the problem from both sides.

Nowadays in my coaching system, I don't put top priority at the form. Instead, I will start teaching standing mediation (or zhan zhuang). With focused one-on-one coaching, I can almost say for sure that a student can get a feel of chi at his extended hands during lesson one. And it is easy for the student to practice the zhan zhuang form at home in private: no movement has to be remembered. With the standing form correct (that has to be learned of course), the only thing that student has to do in private practice is to choose a time and place that he or she can be alone in private, and then put himself or herself at the zone between asleep and waking up (well, being standing, one simple can't fall asleep - so the mind is easy to direct: as asleep as you possibly can!). Then what? Then wait PATIENTLY, and see how you internal chi move and try to balance out one another.

Once you can feel chi movement, chances are that you will be motivated to proceed further. And stronger chi-movement acts as further motivation. And suddenly you're on the path: you feel that you can direct (or influence the direction of) your chi a little bit with your mind! And you will be just too impatient to practice more and now you're ready for the form.

Good lucky with your practice.

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