Last updated: 2006-05-11

How to Learn Tai Chi

So you are interested in Tai Chi Chuen. Walking around Chinatowns you may see, usually older people, practising Tai Chi in the morning. You may have seen it in movies, or TV Advertisements. It always elicit a sense of flow, calm, and grace in the movements. It's time to give it a try !

This is a note on how to learn, or get a taste, of real Tai Chi, in our usual busy lives.

Learning from Books and Videos?

In short, you cannot really learn from books and video. Tai Chi is very subtle. Books and videos are good reference materials while you are learning Tai Chi in person. But if you try to learn from a book or a video, you are 99.999% not learning real Tai Chi. You can imitate the movements to some extent, but definitely not the actual techniques and forms. So you ended up doing some active body movement. It's better than sitting down watching TV, but that is at best the equivilant of light exercise.

The learning from books/videos topic is often discuss online at all the websites and forums. One ligitimate issue is, what if you live somewhere that has no schools nor teachers around? My personal honest answer is, you are better off not learning from a book/video, just learn something else that you can find a teacher for!

What Style of Tai Chi should I learn?

This is another popular question and discussion. People often ask what style do I know/do/teach? Which form is the best? I have heard that style X is genuine, and sylte Y is not, etc. The short answer is that Tai Chi family styles does not matter when you are a beginner trying to get a taste of tai chi.

Doing good tai chi has a universal set of requirements that you must follow, and a set of characteristics that you must maintain. Any style/form will require the same. It is better use of your time to make sure you are doing the techniques correctly, meeting the requirements, sticking to the characteristics.

Finding a School and Teacher

So, go find yourself a school and a teacher. A good Tai Chi school and teacher. Trust your gut on your selection. Some sign of wrong teacher/school:

  • The school emphasize on hard forms, kicks and punchs
  • Schools that are so big that, while the teacher may be great, the beginners classes are taught by junior students.
  • School that only have young students (20 somethings).