There are many ways of interpreting and teaching the Tai Chi forms. There are also many levels of achievement. Unfortunately, only a small number of students get past the initial levels. All the major classical forms of Tai Chi Chuan place great emphasis on adherence to the internal principles. Without knowledge of such principles, any accomplishment will be greatly restricted. What follows is a suggested guide for beginners as a way of learning and practicing the forms in their entirety, that is, in mind, body and spirit. Additionally, the truly sincere practitioner must mutually develop knowledge of the Tai Chi Classics and the subtle, advanced principles of Pushing Hands. With deepening insight and progress, these principles can provide an excellent framework for daily life.
Practice involves an ongoing refinement and understanding of postures, their practical and symbolic meaning.
Fundamental principles of structure, alignment, applications and above all, relaxation. In this context, relaxation is being mindful of softness, smoothness and stillness in every action.
Incorporating the aspects of Yin and Yang.
Developing movement coordinated with breath.
Learning to distinguish clearly between full and empty.
Realising a heightened awareness and sensitivity through the whole body.
Learning to co-ordinate physical movement, breath and the attention of the eyes equally throughout the form.
All methods of meditation, including Tai Chi Chuan, necessarily involve body, mind and spirit.
This helps with the cessation of thought, and with stillness of mind during practice.
Relaxed awareness is given to the movement and direction of the dan tien (centre), and understanding its role in the correct distribution of power in each posture.
The spiraling open and close movement of the arms, torso and legs throughout the form are developed together with focused intention.
This brings the higher faculties of the mind into play, and allows a greater flow of energy.
This includes every aspect of the above principles and much more. As this incorporates everything in a kind of multi-levelled alignment, it could be termed the Shen or Spirit form.
Focus is primarily on the centre, but in a different way. It is different because the focus is at a centre that is everywhere and nowhere.
Each posture contains a threefold close-open-close aspect, which may be accompanied by distinct breathing methods.
Each movement expands continuously within a deep and powerful creative silence; indeed, an unspeakable reverence in which the subtle senses and intuitive perception are discovered.
These are the beginnings of awakening to the dignity of the Spirit. This is a dimension, which becomes no longer the subject of complex analysis or blind speculation, but of pure and simple experience.
The opening to such an experience may occur at any time of practice, and at any level of learning. However, it is only when it is experienced again and again through correct practice that the capacity for true knowledge in the art develops.