Taijiquan health

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Introductory grade

The beginners grade is about reaching a basic level of health. It is not a martial grade. Students wear a white T-shirt and explore preliminary concerns.
The onus is upon starting to get fit, stronger, more supple, better coordinated and somewhat more relaxed. Good alignment, ergonomics and elementary physics are all introduced.
Students learn how to focus and work with one another in a constructive manner.
It should take the average student about 6 months to complete the beginners syllabus.

Where do you start?

Beginners practice:

  1. Ba duan jin (8 exercises)

  2. Form posture qigong

  3. Full circle qigong

  4. Moving qigong (15 exercises)

  5. Reeling silk exercises (5 exercises)

  6. Standing post

  7. Standing qigong/3 circle qigong

  8. Challenge full circle qigong (30 mins x 4 weeks)

  9. Assignment #1 - Q & A

  10. Assignment #2 - Attitude & etiquette

These topics provide the adequate, necessary foundation for later practice.

Awaken your brain

According to the book The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, the human brain is quite literally akin to a muscle.
The more frequently and consistently your brain works on a given area of skill, the greater its capacity to perform the skill with ease.

The student has nothing to offer but an absolute willingness to follow the teacher's instructions and direction without question or comments or personal improvisation.

(Dave Lowry)

Train as much as you can

Taijiquan beginners often have high expectations and a low commitment to practice. Often the student struggles to meet their own ambitions.
To break this problem, train frequently. Nothing beats practice. Time committed to practice during your early stages of development will pay dividends in the long run.


Since an exponent is not adept with taijiquan, they need to do a lot of qigong. It will provide the necessary fitness benefits by serving as a stopgap pending higher level taijiquan skill.

Get healthy

The beginners grade is all about improving health and fitness.
A student is required to work at notably improving their stamina, flexibility, coordination, cardiovascular fitness and agility.
There is a physical to pass.

When your teacher demonstrates something for you, you are obligated to practice it,  or else you may invoke the following consequences of your own free will:
 1. Your teacher may not correct you because your actions have shown that you did not really want to learn the skill.
 2. You will not achieve the skill.
 3. If you learn the next stage of the skill, it will be weak because it has no foundation.
 4. Your skill will not rise to a high level until your attitude changes.

 (Bruce Frantzis) 

Motor learning

For many people, their fitness regime does not take into account
'motor learning'. Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Taijiquan combines exercise with motor learning.

Beyond the beginning

When learning a martial art there are essentially 3 stages:

  1. Physical fitness (intermediate)

  2. Technical skill (experienced)

  3. Combat (advanced)

Most students want to do stage 3 but flounder before they even reach stage 1. The beginner's syllabus is an introductory grade. It is not stage 1. It is preliminary health training.

Worth reading

Tailored learning   
Strong mental attitude
Home training
The Sword Polisher's Record: The Way of Kung Fu by Adam Hsu


The samurai must maintain his faith in his beliefs, even as the social or political climate shifts and alters. He must be patient, must act in a manner that may at times seem irrational or illogical, must resist the temptations of instant gratification, and must work towards fulfilling what may seem to be an impossible idea.

As a result, the samurai is often something of an outsider, a rebellious figure because he refuses to conform to the habits of the day.

(Takahiro Kitamura)


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Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 07 November 2018