Training Tips

Perform Tai Chi Quan in accordance with the technical specifications for the routine, and perform naturally. Never go counter to what is required of the forms and postures outwardly, nor to what is required of the mind and spirit inwardly. When there is unity in one's movements, there is harmony in his mind; or when there is appropriateness of forms and postures outwardly, there is mental integrity inwardly. The form is a reflection of the latter, and one's internal and external activities have become integrated. - Sun Lu Tang 

General comments on Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a special branch of the Chinese martial arts. It is a both an internal and external exercise (internally to keep one's mind in perfect calmness, externally to increase one's agility and physical strength).  Flexibility is required in training, yet vigor comes naturally when needed. The principle is: overcome rivals' staunchness by one's softness, using the so the technique of "detouring one thousand pounds with only the strength of four ounces." While exercising, one should keep one's Qi (energy) down at the Dan Tian, an acupuncture point below the naval, with body straight, never using unskillful, "dull" strength, and guiding one's power by the mind. 

According to Master Hao, every disciple goes through three training stages: In the beginning, the practitioner feels like he is wading in water with his feet covered in silt; later, the practitioner feels like he is swimming, with his feet completely free of the heavy silt; finally, the practitioner develops an intense level of awareness and concentration like one who can walk on water or on a thin layer of ice. 

Every gesture or movement must conform to strict rules, as indicated below:
Head - The head must be kept upward, but without effort and with chin naturally drawn inwards.
Mouth - Slightly closed, with tongue lightly touching the upper palate. Natural respiration through the nose.
Chest - Slightly drawn inwards in order to keep the vital energy along the backbone.
Shoulders - Completely relaxed.
Elbows - Elbows must loosely droop and forearms must remain naturally bent.
Hands - Fingers separated, in complete relaxation.
Waist - The waist controls body movements; it is the base of Tai Chi's vital energy.
Legs - Legs must always remain slightly bent, and bear the body's weight one leg at a time.

The body should always move as an integrated unit, if one part of the body moves then the entire body should move. If one part of the body is still then the entire body should be still.

Combat Techniques

There are eight essential techniques to be used in combat practice. They are: Peng (ward off), Lu (pull), Ji (push), An (press), Cai (grasp), Lie (deviate), Zhou (use of elbow), Kao (use of shoulder). 

Use of the eyes in Tai Chi 

All schools of martial arts attach great importance to one's use of eyes and Tai Chi is no exception. A sharp look is not in combat is a means to impressing one's adversary. Moreover, eye expression can coordinate mind and form, and concentrate attention. Often, the eyes should follow the hand's motion during exercise. Tai Chi is both an internal and external martial art. It emphasizes the harmonious combination of thought, Chi and form, and the eyes play the role of intermediary in this dynamic process. Of course, to coordinate the eyes and movements, the prerequisite is correct movement. But misuse of the eyes might jeopardize the effect and vividness of this art.