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There is a common myth that tai chi people are scatterbrained hippies.
This may be the case in some instances but it is not very tai chi.
Taoism encourages you to balance the natural flow of things with the practicalities involved.
If your study of tai chi is to be productive and thorough, it may be necessary to organise your training into some sort of schedule.
What you train and how much time you commit to training is entirely up to you.
Tai chi does not advocate pressure.
Your routine should stem from the need to maintain the standard without overtraining.
Little and often is best.
Training fewer items gives you more time to address the detail. Stagger your exercises across the week but aim to train the main ones every day.
Commit as much time as possible to partner work.
Training with a variety of different people is vital - everyone brings something new to the practice, whether it is something constructive or simply an impediment for you to work around.
Only through regular on-going partner work can tai chi ever reasonably be employed as combat.
In this world there are two
There is the mechanical time and there is body time...
The first is unyielding, predetermined.
The second makes up its mind as it goes along...
Each time is true, but the truths are not the same.
We live in a world of fast-food, conveniences and high-speed transport yet people claim that they have too little time.
This is an amusing statement and seems to suggest that they have been denied their allotment of time.
We all have as much time as one another - it is all a matter of what you choose to do with it.
Beyond tai chi
Your priorities determine how much time you set aside for things.
If something is of great value to you, you make time for it. You organise your life accordingly.
Consider a life in which you can take your time? Where you can plod at your own pace? A situation where no external pressure exists?
To some degree the realisation of this is in your hands. Get up earlier. Take things slowly. Watch less television. Sleep regular hours. Switch off your mobile phone.
If you want more time, do less. Have fewer commitments. Prioritise.
Manage your time more effectively.
Be prepared to discard less important concerns. Make time for people and things you enjoy.
Avoid energy-sapping associates.
Spend your time in healthy, fruitful activity. Consider it an investment, not a chore.
An internal martial artist needs self-discipline.
They must be internally motivated and responsible for what they are doing and how they do it.
Outside pressure is not required.
If you are responsible for your life, then your internal and external realities need to be aligned.
A scattered, confused, jumbled mind usually results in a untidy living environment and a lack of organisational skills.
A relaxed, balanced mind has pared things down and knows where things are.
Such a person does not become easily confused or flustered.
This is not about control. It is about awareness.
When your thoughts settle and you see more, your internal serenity will become manifest externally.
You take time over things and do not rush. You are thorough and methodical. You are patient.
If you want to build a ship,
don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work,
but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
(Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
A teacher needs to be exceptionally well organised if they are to keep track of every students progress and differentiate appropriately.
The syllabus needs to be comprehensive, with plenty of latitude for improvement and change.
We get good at what we do
If you want to get good at form, practice form. If you want to become proficient with weapons, then practice with weapons. The more often your body undertakes the practice, the more familiar it will be.
18 April 1995
Last updated 11 April 2019