Standing in your own way

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How quickly should I progress?

This is up to you. Ask yourself:

  1. Have you put in the work?

  2. Have you attended weekly lessons?

  3. Have you made the best use of all learning opportunities?

  4. Do you practice daily at home?

  5. Do you supplement your training with study of the website/books from the reading list?

The initial material is fairly easy to learn. The later skills are much harder.

You make it happen

Tai chi is made manifest by your own personal
physical actions. It cannot be purchased. You cannot talk it into being. It must be cultivated through arduous, patient training.
Attending lessons is not enough. You do not receive a certificate for simply turning up every week. The quality of your tai chi, and your own individual degree of progress is entirely determined by you.
We can teach you. But you must do all the work.

Your mind

Your mind is the wellspring of action. It is through your thoughts and intentions that your tai chi is brought into reality.
A determined, patient, strong mind will result in success. A weak, whining, attention-seeking mind will hamper progress. Begin with a clear mind and strong focus.
Make the best of every learning opportunity.


You make think that you are open-minded, receptive and keen. This may indeed be true. However, a vast number of new starters are anything but humble.
People naturally want to 'get a handle' on something new, and usually attempt to understand the syllabus in terms of their own existing experience and preconceptions.
Frequently they will jump to rash conclusions based upon limited information. This approach is understandable, but doomed.

Rather light a candle than complain about darkness.



To absorb new material it is necessary to accept without judgement, opinion or expectation. Just do the training. Do not second-guess the teacher or try to figure out the purpose of the exercise.
Understanding comes later.

Weekly lessons

If you want to make the best use of the class, you need to attend lessons every week. This is essential. Making the commitment to weekly attendance is a necessary first step.

Home training

There is no getting away from the fact that real progress requires home training between lessons. This is your second step, and for many people it is a milestone.
Students who train daily at home make significantly better progress and find that their health and fitness improve tremendously.


The size of the syllabus means that the more you attend, the more information you are exposed to and the more opportunity you have to practice.
A student who attends infrequently may only learn the crude outline. Whereas the keen student moves past the basic quite quickly and learns progressively more sophisticated material.

Standing in your own way

This expression refers to a student inadvertently impeding their own progress. There can be many reasons why a student is hampering themselves:

  1. Poor attendance

  2. No home practice

  3. Watching TV at home rather than training

  4. Training a second martial art alongside your tai chi

The recommended approach to training is:

  1. Weekly lessons

  2. Train daily at home

  3. Watch the class DVDs

  4. Attend class workshops

  5. Learn one martial art at a time

You do not need to dedicate your life to tai chi, but if you want steady progress, you need to train little and often.

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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023