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If you stand in your garden and watch the plants, you will see nothing growing.
Yet the plants are growing.
All of the time.
This is how nature operates.

Your body

Your body took years of bad usage, abuse and neglect to grow into the condition it is in right now.
This cannot be remedied overnight.


It is not possible to simply swap bad/faulty parts for good/new ones.
You are not a mechanical object. You are biological.
Changes to the body take time.


People want a quick fix.
They seek immediate results.
Instant gratification.
Your body will not grow any faster because you are impatient.
It is literally akin to watching the grass grow.


When a person forces a change to their body there are often adverse consequences.
They injure their shoulder, their knees, their back.
They have a heart attack.
You cannot force change
Forcing involves resistance and conflict; which are not good qualities.
The very act of forcing is in itself an admission of failure.

Wu wei

In tai chi we teach people to work with the body rather than against it.
We learn how to 'listen' to our body.
When something does not feel right, we stop and examine it.
Pain is a warning and discomfort warrants further investigation.
Usually there is an error in how the material is being practiced


Tai chi is mild.
There is no forcing involved.
Many of the problems facing a student are of their own devising.
Rather than just practice and show patience, the student is erratic and aggressive.
They seek a short-cut and they inevitably fail.
Progress cannot be forced

The grass grows all by itself

If you leave a garden to grow, it will.
Providing there is adequate rain, the plants get larger and the grass grows all by itself.
With tai chi we are like gardeners; we encourage healthy growth and re-train the body.
But we must also sit back and wait.


Being aware of bad habits is a major first step.
Most people are not at one with their own body.
They shamble around as though wearing an unresponsive carcass of flesh.
This condition is particularly poignant when the individual in question is not even 30 years old.
Life is over before it has even started...

Medical treatment

In modern times there is a great dependency upon Western medicine.
People seek to solve health problems quickly using medication or surgery.
These methods may fix the immediate problem but the underlying cause is seldom addressed.
Eating habits and poor body usage are often the cause of poor health.
These cannot be fixed by surgery or prescription medication.


The holistic approach is to work with the natural processes of the body, to improve body awareness, to learn new habits and steadily grow a healthier, more resilient body.

Not therapy

Tai chi is not a form of therapy.
With therapies, the patient/client is dependent upon the therapist for treatment.
Somebody else does the work for you.


In tai chi, you do the work.
You are responsible.
It is up to you to address your lifestyle, manage your health and exercise as you see fit.
The ego must be subdued, the mind brought back to the here and now, and the awareness expanded.

Niwa: a pure place

A healthy garden takes time to grow.
It does not occur immediately.
Time, effort and patience are necessary.
You must cultivate, invest and allow.

It was around the beginning of the industrial revolution that the idea that human beings were like machines came into being. The body was seen as being like a clockwork toy, capable of being taken apart, parts replaced and then put back together again. Although this perspective has produced powerful life saving procedures, this view also limits our awareness of the wonders of the human body and life itself.

(Liz Koch)

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Page created 21 May 1997
Last updated 16 June 2023