New to Tai Chi?

Greetings, tongxuemen(students).

If you are reading my weekly e-letter for the first time you are probably one of the many new students who have joined our classes in the last few weeks. Whether you are taking class for exercise or relaxation, are fascinated by Asian martial arts, hoping for help with a particular medical problem, or just want to try something new and different, maybe with your spouse or friend, you are in the right place for the right reasons.

But I wonder how many of you realized before you began that it would be--well--hard? That learning Tai Chi involves actually "learning"?

You are not alone. Arthur Rosenfeld's great book Tai Chi The Perfect Exercise describes perfectly how it feels to start Tai Chi class, which goes something like this: You come for all those reasons but find yourself immediately forgetting which foot is left and which is right. You thought you were pretty coordinated but everybody around you seems like an Olympic athlete in comparison. You are frustrated but you try to do what the teacher suggests: most importantly relax and set aside all other thoughts in order to gently focus on the movements.

When the hour is over you feel kind of good! As confusing as it is you want to keep coming. Over the weeks you begin to find that little aches and pains are going away; that you are beginning to remember some of the movements; that you find yourself thinking about tai chi while you're standing in line at a store, taking a walk, in the shower!

So you look forward to class. You've discovered, says Arthur Rosenfeld, that Tai Chi is a "way of life" and you like it! Welcome to the Tai Chi life!


I was just introduced to the wonderful work of Robert Chuckrow. This comes from his article "Why Study T'ai Chi?" .

Frequently, people say, “I wouldn’t be good at T’ai Chi because I am so uncoordinated.” Actually, the more uncoordinated you are, the more you can benefit from learning and practicing T’ai Chi. Another thing that people say is, “It’s way too slow.” One reason it is so slow is that, if it were any faster, the mind would have trouble encompassing the many things that are going on. Also, once the movements have been learned, there is a natural rate of motion that coordinates the breathing and flow of something called ch’i.--Robert Chuckrow

--Judith Rew