A gentle approach

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Slow & easy

Tai chi advocates a slow and easy approach to both exercise and living. Moving slowly allows you time to be safe and careful with your movements, to be fully conscious at all times of what you are doing.
Rushing is very unhealthy and harms the nervous system. Remaining calm is natural and feels nice. By slowing down you begin to notice things that were previously just a blur.

Natural range

In tai chi you must always remain within your natural range of movement. Any stretching is done gently and never forced; the body is allowed to open by itself, rather than be put under duress.
By encouraging the joints to be free, mobility increases radically and the body can move more comfortably. Tai chi should never strain or hurt the body.
Some movements may feel uncomfortable if you have bad postural habits and this is to be expected - your body is already used to set movements and poise - and the tai chi is gently changing these.

No exertion

Try this: Clasp your hands in front of your chest as if putting your arms around somebody. Keep the elbows loose and bent.
Now imagine that somebody is gently tugging your hands away from your back but keep the scapula relaxed... In the art, this is considered to be the limit of your natural range.

The feet are similar...

When you step, there must be no weight transference into the heel of the stepping foot. You should be able to pick the foot immediately back off the floor without any shift of weight.
Only when the ground is found to be firm - should the weight shift.


When things do not go the way we want them to, we are trained to lose our temper and try to force the outcome we desire. This is not healthy.

Tai chi fighting method

In tai chi we are encouraged to allow others to go their own way. Whenever we encounter an obstacle, we seek to flow around it and avoid confrontation.
Even in combat we look to use restraint; to do only as much as is necessary. Why cause harm to another?

The presence of the Way can be intuitively sensed,
but it cannot be pinned down in any way.

(Thomas Cleary)

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Page created 17 April 1996
Last updated 16 June 2023