Sifu's Training Insights

Doing versus Practicing
Tai Chi Class

When you are engaged in your Tai Chi study, there are two distinct approaches of which you should be aware: Doing and Practicing. Both are essential to derive the optimum benefit and pleasure from your study time.

Practicing Tai Chi requires the conscious analysis and attention to detail which is only possible when you break up or dissect the Tai Chi Form into discrete moves, postures or parts of postures. This may be practiced repeatedly, such as performing the Commencement several times in a row without stopping, or as part of a brief sequence which is repeated such as Grasp The Sparrows's Tail.

Practicing Tai Chi is necessary to correct technical problems (improper alignment, weight distribution, angles, sequencing, coordination, balance, breathing technique, etc.) It is only through practicing that you will be able to improve your application and understanding of the physical or material side of Tai Chi.

Doing Tai Chi is much more experiential and subjective. In doing Tai Chi you focus your attention of the feelings generated by the performance of the exercises. This would include areas like energy flow, relaxation, continuity, active balance, circulation of breath, expression of power, expanded levels of consciousness and any other way you can imagine having fun with Tai Chi.

You are now fine tuning your proprioception--that is, your ability to identify body placement through feeling rather than by visual confirmation.

Most students should divide their workout by using one-third of their time for practicing Tai Chi and two-thirds of their time in doing Tai Chi. You will note that the feeling (Yin) side of Tai Chi is actually more important than the technical expertise gained from practicing Tai Chi (Yang).

However, without the proper foundation gained by practicing Tai Chi for a sufficient length of time to ingrain the technical aspects in your subconscious mind, a great deal of time will be lost when attempting to experience higher levels of Tai Chi dependent upon your ability to feel what is happening in your body and mind during the Tai Chi Form.