Comfort in Form Practice

Today I would like to bring up a basic topic in the practice of Tai Chi – comfort.

To begin let’s take a look at a video. This is a demonstration of Yang style 108 long form by a new student as he learned it.

The low stances are great for cultivating leg strength. I used to practice the long form really slow, taking about one and a quarter to one and a half hour to complete one cycle. At the end I would feel this pain in the knees. My student has a similar experience also.

It is only after learning the Yang style Tai Chi transmitted within the lineage of Grandmaster Wei Shuren that I eliminated the knee pain yet retain good dynamic stability. It all began with my teacher offering a simple piece of advice – seek comfort. Today I teach this vital principle to all students – seek comfort.

The logic goes something like this – you are supposed to relax but sitting low too early in the training only makes your thighs more tense. If you must go lower, then do it progressively after you have attained a high degree of relaxation. Otherwise, if you end up with joint pains then your practice would be counter-productive.

Today I made a video illustrating this point.

Conclusion – in Tai Chi we want to move like a mountain yet be as light footed as a rabbit. How do we reconcile this?

Answer – seek comfort. Then we have the best of both worlds in that we are calm, heavy, solid, minimalist, with constantly connected movements concealing the power of mind and body, yet can move swiftly like the wind.


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