Teaching Tai Chi is a tricky business – and learning Tai chi even trickier! This is mainly because what people expect to learn by coming to a Tai Chi class and what they are likely to get are usually two quite different things. Tai Chi is often associated with oriental mystery and assumed to be an art of subtle energies and spiritual ideals. This is very amusing! Tai Chi training principles are based not upon intellectual theory (theory is like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted) but a long history of direct experience of optimal body/mind training gained through highly perceptive heuristic movement research, acute empirical observation of natural phenomena (such as the laws of physics) at both micro and macro levels and rigorous proof testing through application (fighting/self-defense/life). All of this experience eventually culminated in a most natural and optimal way to train the human body and mind for health, movement and martial arts.
So Tai Chi is a martial art – but with a difference. Instead of learning fighting techniques the first port of call is in fact simply learning how to move well. Moving well, being at ease with one’s physical existence, being in immersed in down to earth sensory experience and possessing freedom of movement are vital attributes for life and the basic skills we seek to develop in Tai Chi. More than anything else, it is these things that almost everybody could do with addressing, although many people do not realise it.
Ultimately this means that our training is much more physically rigorous than what most people might expect. Creating a relaxed, stable, balanced and connected body requires a lot of hard physical work; and you have to learn to focus your mind and pay attention completely in order to succeed. People generally show a strong bias towards thinking about things that are unrelated to what they are doing on the most fundamental level. However, in order to move well (and this means moving without destroying the body on the way) the body and mind must work together as the seamless unit they actually comprise at the most primal level. It is the most fascinating journey!
At Sussex Tai Chi we have a number of new courses and workshops starting over the summer. You can check out all the details on the website: www.sussextaichi.co.uk