Before we talk about the training syllabus in any detail, it is worth saying that people come to Tai Chi for many reasons, some for health and fitness, some for relaxation while some come to learn a martial art. In some cases people want to enter competitions, either for their Form or to test themselves against others. All of these can be catered for and there is no pressure to force people to do more than they wish.
At our club, we cover all aspects, from the beginner who knows nothing about the origins of the art and just wants to relax, through to those who want to go on to other classes that do sparring. The basic principles behind all aspects of Tai Chi are fundamentally the same. Our core syllabus is outlined here:
The student is normally introduced to Qi Kung exercises first. These are a series of gentle exercises that loosen the joints and promote the flow of Chi through the body.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that there is a flow of energy, or Chi, around the body. This energy flows in a number of meridians, and only if this flow is unimpeded with the person be well. There are many ways of correcting the flow of energy, probably the best know is acupuncture, where the flow of energy or Chi is altered to correct problems. There are a number of other ways of correcting energy flow, and Qi Gong is one of them.
Qi Gong comes in many different forms, the major divisions that we use are those exercises where the body is held still, and the energy allowed to flow, commonly know as "standing post" exercises, and those where there are movements of the body used to stimulate the energy flow.
We start with the simple movement exercises, these gently warm up the muscles and "energise" the body and develop balance. We do add in some standing post exercises but to be able to hold these positions for more than a few minutes requires considerable physical and mental discipline, and it takes some months of training to reach the required levels.
The Chinese believe that regular exercise of Qi Kung will keep the body strong and resistant to diseases, and it is widely used as a complement to other Martial Arts disciplines. Tai Chi practitioners use these postures to promote Chi as a preparation for the form.
There is some further information on Qi Gong is the section dedicated to this. A Link here provides some further information on Qi Gong
Then the student progresses to learning The Cheng Man Ch'ing Tai Chi Form. Embodied in the form are all the techniques that go to build a complete system of self defence. Whether you are learning this purely for health reasons or as a martial art, these movements will exercise all parts of the body.
The form takes between 8 and 12 minutes to complete and was developed to encapsulate all the important aspects of the traditional form, with emphasis on the fundamental principle of relaxation.
There are a number of reasons why the form is practiced slowly, the speed allows you to check that you are completing each movement correctly and you relax fully into each posture. Whilst carrying out the movements the mind must be in a state of relaxed awareness. The link here shows some examples of The Form.
Once the Form has been learnt, there are a number of other Hand Forms that we teach, each will train a different area. So we have listed below some of these and some of the aspects that they help to train. However we always continue to work on the Cheng Man Ch'ing Form as it is the foundation upon which our Tai Chi is based.
Once the student is familiar with the hand form, training usually progresses to leaning the straight sword form or other tai chi forms that they may be intersted in learming.
This now trains the student in further techniques, as well as introducing more footwork and changes of direction building on the foundation established through the practice of the slow form.
Pushing hands is a gentle two person exercise to further develop the skills learnt by the practice of Form that is learnt is a safe and gentle way, with two people working together to improve their skills, emphasizing softness and relaxation. Further information is available on this link
In our style of Tai Chi, there are some traditional weapons that can be studied, the broadsword, the straight sword, stick spear and pole. These weapons teach the student how to apply force at a greater distance, as well as acting as a form of weight training to develop the body, plus building certain skills that can be applied in empty hand fighting .
Our instructors have also undertaken further training on weapons such as walking stick, umbrella, Fan, short pole as well as training in Baguazhang, Xing Yi and San Feng Tai Chi
Tai Chi Hand Form
Qi Gong/ Chi Kung