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Our approach to taijiquan places emphasis upon physical sensitivity and awareness.
You must be totally present in order for the system to work effectively for fitness, meditation and combat.
This entails feeling every part of your body consciously as it moves.
Immersing yourself in the 'here and now' heightens your awareness and reduces the risk of injury.
Modern life involves a lot of boring activities.
People are accustomed to daydreaming or 'spacing out'.
Taijiquan necessitates complete attention.
This is the challenge.
The art helps the mind to become calm and centred.
Slow motion practice encourages your mind to remain captivated by the immediacy of the moment, to feel every nuance of every movement.
This degree of awareness is very healthy.
Your mind drifts and you return.
Again and again and again.
The loose, flowing movements of taijiquan are very deliberately slower than normal speed.
Gravity is maintained when you move slowly.
You can align the body to work with gravity and improve your balance.
Leaning of any kind will destabilise the body.
It is fairly easy to move quickly.
Try lifting a leg in slow motion... the leg feels very heavy and hard to move.
At first when your body submits to gravity it can feel as if you are lifting weights every time you practice the Art.
Stronger bones and muscles are developed as a consequence.
Moving slowly is quite difficult.
New students cannot sustain a slow, even movement.
The remedy to jerky movement is to practice.
Gradually, your body changes from within.
Slowing your movements entails the release of tension and the softening of the nerves.
A calm, relaxed body can move softly and evenly without effort.
The equivalent process to seeking the "Holy Grail" in
internal arts is the ability to move more slowly than your opponent and
Slower speed that wins out requires three types of speed coming together simultaneously:
2. The signals required to maintain some level of conscious power.
3. The ability to release the internal gears of your body, which, if they freeze up, can create a momentary mental gap that breaks the connection between you and your opponent.
This method is referred to in The Tai Chi Classics in the form of a question: "How is it possible that an old man can defeat a group of younger men?"
Obviously, elderly men, even the most talented, are not physically capable of moving at the speed of young men.
Virtually, by definition, the elderly move with slowness, and yet those old men internal arts masters by slipping in between the gaps, are justifiably well-known for defeating younger and faster men.
If you go too slowly it can be counter-productive; instead of loosening and relaxing, you stiffen up.
This occurs because the muscles are working too hard to carry the weight of the body.
Find a pace that is slow but still smooth.
Beginners find it quite difficult to move slowly.
This is understandable.
In our class, beginners move at a comfortable, easy pace.
They are not encouraged to slow down much at first.
Skilled students are asked to slow down a bit more.
This makes the practice far more potent.
The body must work harder, and excellent balance is developed.
When you slow down, you begin to notice things.
The study of taijiquan involves a refinement of awareness, in which certain qualities are allowed and cultivated.
By being slow, you can pay attention to what is happening.
Rushing is not healthy.
Fast movement is often at the expense of good body alignment and can indicate a loss of composure.
The unhurried pace of taijiquan allows you time to experience life in a more complete fashion.
Faster paced training is only undertaken by taijiquan students.
As a student moves deeper into the syllabus the pace accelerates as their skill increases.
Combat is not slow
Combat is typically not slow.
It necessitates an adaptive approach: the student moves at whatever pace is most appropriate.
The aim is to minimalise your movements so that they take less time to perform, are less discernable and cannot easily be predicted.
18 March 1997
Last updated 23 July 2017