The Three Ways of Practicing

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I was attending a Taiji demonstration a couple of weekends back. It was a joy to watch so many Taiji practitioners, both local and from abroad, performing their Taiji routines.

While I was feasting my eyes on the different performances, a thought struck. Why is the feel different despite the performers doing the same routine? And when I asked a teacher who was sitting beside me, his explanation was something I never thought of.

The teacher told me there are three ways of practicing the Taiji routines. In the first approach, the practitioner practices the Taiji routine with the objective of reaping the health benefits from the daily practice. With that objective in mind, the practitioner practices the routine in bigger and more elaborate movements, which also makes it very suitable for public performance or demonstration.

Another way to practice the Taiji routines focused on building the foundation. The same movements from the practice may vary from one period of practice to another, as the practitioner moves from one aspect of the foundation building to another. There is no standardized form in this approach.

Lastly the practitioner focuses on the application aspect of the Taiji routines. The martial arts aspect of Taiji is emphasized. The movements become smaller, sometimes the practitioner may not appear to be moving much at all, though all these time there are many internal movements inside his body. The movements sometimes appear overly simplistic, and yet hugely effective.

While there is an increasing popularity of Taiji throughout the world, many of us only have the chance of learning the art on the superficial level. With luck and a lot of hard work, we may have the good fortune of coming into contact with teachers who are skilled in the more in-depth Taiji learnings. And when such an opportunity arises, we would do well to grab it with both hands.

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