Combining Health and Defensive Practice

The main focus on moving chi does not change when combining defensive practice with a health orientation, but concentration may. Combining all of the foregoing instructions may seem like learning a golf swing, where a myriad of movements and positions need remembering all at once.

However, unlike the golf swing, you can vary movements in many ways with equal success. Try varying the time (speed) it takes to do a move. Do some fast, others slow, and still others in between. If you know a complete form in Tai Chi Chuan then perform one whole drill at one speed and another at a different speed. Within each drill focus could be on defensive position only and another on moving the chi. Or, the two could be combined in all moves and drill by concentrating on everything, which will need doing at some point anyway.

The point here is that while focusing on a particular part of a move or the form itself may lead to mastering that part, one needs to step back and look at the “big picture.” The overall concept of Tai Chi is about mastering yourself. It is the inner moves and ideas that are mastered first, before the outer shows up. If you’ve seen movies portraying martial art competition, like “The Karate Kid” you’ll notice that victory comes when the competitor (in this case the hero) goes within. It demonstrates that bringing inner strength and resources to the outer realm overcomes raw physical (outer) strength.

One way of accomplishing such technique is to break the moves and forms down and work on the mechanics. Then in parallel, work with the chi and breath and build inner strength.

Many instructors will have the students pair off and practice “push hands,” a technique that builds defensive character. Along with this and the form, a third method of practice is doing Standing Meditation every day. This trilogy of practice builds technique, inner strength, and stability and balance.

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