Friday, June 22, 2012

What's next?

When a student says I'm Bored? or what's next?.. what they are  saying is " ok, I've been on this one move for 2 weeks ... how about moving on? "   Moving on for Empire Tai Chi students is based upon the quality of movement not quantity. This is a traditional Tai Chi philosophy that can be challenging at first.  However, soon students start to get measurable and highly predictable, positive benefits from their Tai Chi and embrace the qualatative concept as a basis for learning new movements. 

Often, taking a step back equals a giant step forward. Sometimes we will spend more time on a move or transition because the student is really connected and they have a chance to maximize principles at a comfortable spot in a form.  Other times we will introduce a new move to a student who is stuck,  because we feel the next move will help them get un-stuck.  These are evaluations we make as we watch students review on their own. 

When we know that a student's primary goal is stress reduction and relaxation ... and they ask  " What's Next ", we take that as an indicator that the student will be best served by slowing down in order to go forward.  

Every movement in Tai Chi and Chi Kung has enormous positive health potential.  If a students is driving him/her self to learn x number of moves in x number of weeks,  real benefit can come from the traditional method of learning Tai Chi.  No goals.  There is no end, only the journey ...

Doing vs. Practicing - Not a contradiction

Doing - Select a single move or combination of moves that you feel completely comfortable with.  Maybe it's just one move like the preparation .. or any combination of connected moves.  These should be moves that you can do in an alpha state ... flowing, meditative and under relaxed control .. with realy good body alignment.  Do these for 5, 10, 15 minutes .. however long you want.

Practicing - First you have to select a sequence that is not particularly comfortable for you. A sequence where you have the gross memorization, but the sequence feels linear, disconnected, steps are not in control, you are feeling stress in your upper body when you raise one leg. You know the feeling! Like an Elephant on ice skates. Practice doing these few movements focusing on a different principle each time you do it. Stepping under control and moving from the center are biggies, keeping shoulders down and soft, incorporating the empty foot, hips front, staying round, maintaining one height and one pace and examine aspects of functional relaxation throughout all aspects of the moves.. If you keep "practicing this sequence" .. building more and more Principles into these moves it will start to feel different. The more you practice ... the more sequences come into the Doing fold ... and the more you will get out of the moves you were already connected to.

All practice is like always being on a diet. Its allot of work. You need to have a piece of cake once in a while. That's doing Tai Chi. New students ... students within their first 18 months of study should spend more time Doing .... The longer you have been playing Tai Chi ... the more Practice you should be doing because your practice will effect so much more ... At EVERY stage of your Tai Chi experiece try to maintain a schedule that allows for both Doing and Practice. The results will be a highly predictable balance of qualitative and quantitative personal Tai Chi develoment ...