Was reading a book recently and there was a mention of three factors that are important for you to succeed in endeavors of learning such as Tai Chi.
The formula is :-
Success = Focus + Motivation + Time
I can agree with this because if you do not have a well defined, indepth focus you will fail in your learning of Tai Chi. In fact, in many cases you will not even really get started. This is why it is not difficult to spot those students who will eventually succeed and those who are destined to drop out.
Focus – this is the thing that get many of us started in Tai Chi. If the focus is on health then chances are very high that the student will not last for long because learning for health is relatively shallow and offers little for tangible improvement. This of course affects Motivation.
I find that those who want to learn Tai Chi for combat prevail longer than those taking it up for health. Within the area of combat some may learn it only to use for self defence and some learn it as a traditional martial art.
As with health, the area of self defence is not very indepth; more to address an immediate concern for safety. For application of the art there is a lot more to offer, lots of depth to engage your attention for a long time.
Motivation – this is what drives your desire to practice. If you do not have a focus you will lack the motivation to get up and practice. You will have tons of excuses not to practice.
This is why for those doing Tai Chi for health once your health improves the question of what comes next is difficult to see. To continue with good health you only need to keep up the practice. But it will get more and more boring since there is nothing to drive your desire to practice.
However, for combat applications you need a lot of practice to get there hence there is a continuing motivation. When you fail to apply a technique successfully in practice it is frustrating. With success you feel elated, buoyant, good – feelings that will make you continue to go forward with your practice.
Time – with health practice a lot of it is just move the body to get the rust out and blood circulating. The need to be super precise is not there so you seem to be competent within a shorter period of time.
For self defence as long as you are only concerned with seeing some results, feeling that you can do the techniques with power and speed, you will get there in faster time because you do not need to be refined in your movements as there is no call to be able to generate internal power. Normal power and speed can be attained with the application of simple physics.
It is only with the requirement to use the art strictly in accordance to its characteristics that you will need to invest a lot of practice time to make the cut since there are so many areas to study. As the technical details can be challenging it would seem the more you learn, the less you know. This feeling will persist until such time you have made a breakthrough in your practice and this is largely a function of time and effort.
In this respect, learning Tai Chi is like running a marathon. You have to keep going if you want to reach the finish line. This is why Tai Chi is not for everybody as the chances for failure is so much more higher as compared to learning many other arts. However, like climbing Mount Everest once you reach the peak every other subsequent mountain will not give you the same amount of satisfaction.