Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How T'ai Chi Builds Confidence (2) Doing

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Beyond the studying, knowing and learning comes the doing, practicing and sustaining.  T'ai Chi builds confidence by practicing in a step by step, mastery fashion.  I am grateful that I learned one movement at a time, with our instructor giving us a class, plus a followup session, in a given week.  The idea is to master a movement as best as possible, before learning the next.  Also, while some practitioners are positively hardcore, that is, working out several hours a day, there simply isn't a need to do that to gain the full benefits of T'ai Chi.  Whatever few minutes we can devote to practice must be sustained over time, that is, repeated daily without fail.  In time, the movements that seemed so difficult and awkward become fluid and natural.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How T'ai Chi Builds Confidence (1) Knowing

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I mean read a book both literally and figuratively.  (a) Literally by browsing books on T'ai Chi at the bookstore and library, and reading them.  These may be physical (hardcopy) and electronic (ebooks).  (b) Figuratively in the sense that we can read across a host of platforms and forums, such as YouTube videos, Google+ communities, and Twitter timelines.

Knowing and learning can be a first step in building confidence.

Friday, April 17, 2015

How T'ai Chi Builds Awareness (3) Empty Mind

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T'ai Chi builds our awareness, not only of ourselves (i.e. body, mind and spirit) but also of our surroundings (immediate environment and broader universe).  It does so by fostering an open mind, which Westerners may call mindfulness but which practitioners call empty mind.  It is a mind that neither allows nor disallows thoughts, but simply remains still, centered and nonjudgmental.  It is a mind, in other words, that is open to everything but doesn't attach itself to anything in particular.  T'ai Chi as empty mind helps us sense things in ourselves, in people, and in our surroundings which may be out of view or earshot. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How T'ai Chi Builds Awareness (2) Open Noticing

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While we T'ai Chi practitioners may have the look of (tunnel-visioned) focus and concentration, our mind must keep divergent at the same time.  That is, we cast our attention widely and openly, so we can notice things that sit at our periphery.  We can then shift our focus and concentration accordingly, if those things we notice are salient and compelling (e.g. an emerging threat or attack).

How T'ai Chi Builds Awareness (1) Calm Focus

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To learn T'ai Chi well, we have to focus.  Your instructor may take an holistic approach (i.e. demonstrate the movement in its entirety) and-or a piecemeal approach (i.e. breakdowns or segments of movement).  Regardless, we as students must concentrate on what he or she does, and follow suit, even though it may feel rather self conscious or awkward in the initial stages.  So part of building awareness is converging attention onto particular postures and movements.  In T'ai Chi, we pay attention in calm, purposeful ways.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ken Gullette (3) Sense center, uproot opponent

In T'ai Chi Push Hands (Tui Shou), I learned how to sense the center of a partner and thus to uproot him, all the while keeping my center and root.  Ken Gullette points out how easy it is to defeat an attacker, once you know T'ai Chi principles of posture and movement and also grasp the spirit and practice of self defense.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ken Gullette (2) Practices makes powerful

The forms are a means of practicing the body mechanics to make the applications powerful.
This point is an important lesson from Ken Gullette about the fact that practice doesn't just make perfect but it also makes powerful.  This is Roll Back and Press, applied in self defense.  Notice, too, that in a movement like Single Whip, there can be multiple applications:  from the sweeping right arm, to the parry with the left arm and punch (press) with the right hand.  To learn T'ai Chi martial arts, it helps to watch instructional videos, but be sure to learn by practicing it with a friend or classmate.