This post is inspired based on information from a conversation I had today.
You go to class to learn Tai Chi.
You learn the form. You practice it. You love it.
Then one posture gives you a problem.
The first sign – pain in the knee.
You inform the instructor. He says no problem, carry on.
You believe him. You carry on.
The pain persists.
In the end the pain is so bad that you have to consult a doctor. The verdict – knee strain.
The doctor’s advice – pain means you are hurt and should stop.
In the past I have had feedback from other people that they tend to believe their teacher and continued on in spite of the pain.
I tend to agree with what the doctor said. Pain means something is wrong. Stop. Find out what it is. Take corrective measures. Check. If no pain then continue. If still got pain, have your teacher check your posture again.
If your teacher is unwilling to check your posture or tell you to eat bitter then you have to decide whether the teacher is right and the pain will go away eventually or if the teacher is wrong and you risk injury if you carry on. Remember, if anything goes wrong you are the one to suffer. So decide wisely.
It is my opinion that many teachers do not really understand either the role that pain plays or the principles of the Tai Chi Classics. If they do they will stop you the moment you tell them there is pain. They will check your posture and tell you how to do it such that the pain is eliminated.
If you have pain when doing a certain movement first check your body structure. Then check the movement process. Sometimes the body structure is OK but when you move that is when the problem comes in. This is one reason why we practice Tai Chi slowly so that we can monitor and check our posture and movement continually.
When we practice Tai Chi for combat as it was originally designed it acts as a secondary check on our practice. Without this aspect you may think you are relaxed when doing the form when you are really still tensed. This will come to the fore when you practice push hands for combat. You will be surprised how even a slight move on your part can be exploited by someone who is really relaxed to open up your space to launch attacks. Thus, the practice of push hands can help us to refine our mastery of the principles further.
Remember to listen to the doctor’s advice when it comes to the practice of Tai Chi. If there is pain stop. Do not continue until you have fixed the problem. Otherwise, you risk injuring yourself. That many practitioners keep mum about pain do not mean there is no pain. Neither will ignoring the pain make it go away. Deal with it today. Then you can continue to practice Tai Chi for a long time.