Chen Style Tai Chi FAQ
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a Chinese internal martial art. It was created from observing nature and attempting to mimic what was seen. As it matured, Traditional Chinese Medicine was woven into the practice. Today, it has become known more for its health benefits than as a martial art.
It is characterized by its slow, flowing movements. But don't be deceived! It is not an easy practice. The practice involves the physical and energetic body and mind.
What is Chen Style Tai Chi?
Proper technique is emphasized over low stances or wide steps. Focus is placed on creating a stable base, placing most of the weight on the upper legs. The movements are designed to open the body by expanding the tendons and ligaments allowing freer movement in the joints. Creating a stable base with the lower body slowly builds strength in the hips and legs. The more open body allows for easier movement and encourages good energy flow.
The forms of Chen Style all include a combination of slow and fast movements. However, it is always up to the practitioner if they want to execute the movements quickly or not.
Some characterize Chen Style as the most martial of the Tai Chi styles. However, this is incorrect. How martial a Tai Chi class is depends more on the individual instructor than on the style.
What should I expect in Tai Chi class?
Class consists of warm ups, silk reeling, and form practice.
Warm ups start at the top of the body and move progressively down loosening and warming up the joints. They also serve as a transition into the practice. The practitioner starts focusing on Tai Chi and less on outside considerations.
Silk reeling are movements taken out of the form that allow the student to focus on the fundamentals without worrying about the coordination or sequence of the form. They are typically done in a stationary stance although there are some whose function is to work on stepping.
Form practice involves learning a Tai Chi form, which is a specific sequence of movements. Some forms are short(18 moves) while others can be long(74 moves). Don't be intimidated by the length of a form! Practicing any part of a form is practicing Tai Chi. As long as you are practicing, you are receiving benefits.
What is required to learn Tai Chi?
An open mind and a will to work. No special equipment is necessary although some locations require shoes that are only used for class or indoors.
What if I have health concerns?
Tai Chi is generally safe but you should always check with your doctor if you have concerns. Due to the slow nature of the movements, as long as the students maintains personal awareness of their own physical condition, they can always stop or modify a movement when necessary.