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Tai chi is not easy to learn

Tai chi involves an awful lot of learning. Also, the body must completely re-grow in order perform it correctly.The habits of a lifetime must be allowed to dissolve.
People find it difficult to change, so patience and persistence are required.

Patience is the ability to wait without experiencing anger, anxiety or frustration.

(Dale Carnegie)

Patience is necessary

Nothing in tai chi should be forced. Effort is not required, just commitment. If you really want to learn something and have enthusiasm, it is effortless, like play.
Tai chi takes many years to learn correctly, and there are absolutely no shortcuts.

Education takes time

Imagine teaching a child to read English literature... The child must learn how the letters are formed, then how groups of letters become words, how words become sentences and so on.
Even when the child can read, the skills are still being extended; they can be developed beyond school and into further education.
It may take a child 12 years to complete standard education in the UK, 2 further years for college/sixth form and 3 more for university. At this point, a person could have a literature degree.
The entire process took 17 years.
Learning tai chi is no different.

The here and now

Ambitious students actively delay their own progress by failing to pay attention to what is right in front of them. The teaching occurs in the here and now.
If you have one eye on the future and fail to address the immediate, your progress will be slow. Set ambition aside and train.

Patience is the ability to detach from the need for immediate gratification.

(Dale Carnegie)


People worry too much about making mistakes. In tai chi, mistakes are inevitable. Many of them. Often, what you remember from the class will be incorrect.
You will be practicing the tai chi improperly and not realise it. Accept it. These things happen; there will be times of progress and periods of set-back. Mistakes are essential to learning.
It is not healthy to worry about making mistakes.
Tai chi seeks to avoid mistakes by encouraging people to find accord with natural law.

Be patient

Go easy on yourself. Daily practice is the Way to become skilled at tai chi. Do not expect too much. The syllabus takes as long as it takes to complete.
If it takes you longer than expected, so what? Who are you competing with? Yourself?

Progress is slow

How is your tai chi going? Slow. The body must be allowed to change by itself. Think of the seasons naturally unfolding, subtly altering the planet? Tai chi must come upon you in the same way.


A young boy travelled across Japan to the school of a famous martial artist.
When he arrived at the dojo he was given an audience by the sensei.

"What do you wish from me?" the master asked.

"I wish to be your student and become the finest karateka in the land," the boy replied.
"How long must I study?"

"Ten years at least," the master answered.

"Ten years is a long time," said the boy.
"What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?"

"Twenty years," replied the master.

"Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?"

"Thirty years," was the master's reply.

"How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?" the boy asked.

"The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

(Joe Hyams)

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023