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Tai chi chuan is a martial art but it takes many years of patient practice and study to achieve competence in this aspect. However all of the martial principles are included in the tai chi form and we can use this as a training tool to achieve fitness good health and self-confidence. And as we work through the form the self-defence applications are used test development and put better shape on the positions. As students progress some basic, practical self-defence techniques are introduced. These embody tai chi's principal concept of softness rather than muscular strength so can be particularly useful to female students.

The main part of the class focuses on learning the Tai Chi form (above). This is the series of movements that most people will identify as tai chi. Students learn the moves through repetition, often in groups but with individual help from the instructors (right). We practice the traditional Yang style form.

Tai chi is much more than just the moves and in every class students work on the core principles and concepts behind tai chi - softness, flexible waist movements, rooting, spiralling and other fundamental principles.

Classes start with qi gong exercises to settle the energy and focus the mind. Qi gong is an important part of tai chi, with the correct breathing techniques it develops the internal energy (chi) and helps focus it in the dan-tien (energy centre).

Chi gong is followed by warm-up exercises (left) Done properly this is a powerful set of moves.  They employ weight shifting and waist turning which over time trains the body in the tai chi movements.

As students develop, advanced techniques such as pushing hands (left) are introduced to help develop sensitivity, softness and rooting.
There are no grades in Tai Chi (as in some martial arts) each individual works for her/himself. You are the only challenge to be overcome. Once you take control and learn to let go (of ego issues, preconceived ideas and doubts about what is possible) then the amazing world of Tai Chi Chuan is yours to explore. When you start you take the first step on a path that will fascinate and amaze; your journey will last a lifetime.



Copyright © John Roper 2018