View Full Version : How can I learn Tai Chi alone?
I've become interested in learning Tai Chi. First problem: there are no instructors within 100 miles of me. Second problem: I know nothing about Tai Chi.
I'm talking about the kind of Tai Chi like you see old people doing in the park.
Please check my thinking:
1. Tai Chi patterns have been developed over thousands of years.
2. Through trial and error, these patterns have been distilled down to those that will give the most physical benefit in the shortest time.
3. I can get some Tai Chi videos and learn the patterns.
4. Doing these patterns will help me maintain flexibility and squish my juices around each day so I'll feel better.
Are these things true?
Would some kinda of Yoga be a better solution for me?
I admit that I have exactly one Tai Chi instructional video. In that video a fat old hippie guy stands in a Japanse garden wearing a Hop Sing constume and blathers on about breathing and folding your hands properly. Isn't there something a little more sweat inducing available?
Any help appreciated!
I've never done Tai Chi training before but I've heard of this traditional training somewhere(forget where...):
The form is a simple basic short form in the Tai Chi style. You do the move correctly with the correct breathing for 100 times. After that you take about 3-5 minutes of break and then do another 100 times, after that you're done for the day.
You do this training everyday until ...(I forgot what the traditional training said about until when :rolleyes: )
Other than that, you also do pushing hand sparring with another person to complement and test your tai chi skills.
I'm sure by doing the form correctly, this kind of training will be more than sweat inducing.:)
I suppose the training is used to break down the rigidness and tenseness of the physical and mental body.
And that's for my delusional pair of cents.:D
You really got to have a teacher...and a good one at that. Most video's are totally crap, all you will get from them is the order of moves. Taijiquan's real depth is in its body mechanics, the way the body is lined up and moves in a jointed way throughout the sequence. Unfortunatley you won't get this from a video or to be honest many teachers.......maybe you want to work with qigong instead. You could pick up a few methods at a seminar and then practise them at home. Some qigong comes from taiji movemnts, but instead of linking into a sequence of other moves are repeated with particular breathing patterens. Othermethods of qigong involve standing still and apparently doing nothing.
2. Through trial and error, these patterns have been distilled down to those that will give the most physical benefit in the shortest time not exactly...short forms have been introduced for the lazy western market.....we don't have time to spend working on this, we want a whole form yesterday. Please avoid any Cheng Man Ching style stuff. If you do want to see taiji that will get a sweat on...looks for videos by Chen Xiao Wang or Chen Zhen Lei, this stuff is the real deal and not the hippy, barefoot nonsense that is really tai cheeese (thanks to Mr Stonehart for that expression).
Click here for Chen Xiao Wang (http://www.chenxiaowang.com/)
Yoga would improve your flexibility and I believe that ashtanga (sp) is a dynamic, sweat inducing form of yoga.......
Fly me down to texas when its cold up in Boston....I can get you started...of course you will also have to take me out shooting...;)
> You really got to have a teacher
That's not possible for me right now. The nearest one would be in Houston or Dallas, both about 120 miles away. And even if I did visit schools there, I know so little about it I wouldn't be able to seperate the wheat from the chaff.
> Taijiquan's real depth is in its body mechanics, the way the body is lined up and moves in a jointed way throughout the sequence.
That's what I'm interested in. I could do karate or TKD forms for exercise, but they hurt. Years of TKD snapping the air have made my joints sore and arthritic. Older and wiser now, but the damage is done.
I was hoping Tai Chi would allow me to work up a sweat and maintain flexibility without wrecking my joints. If millions of old Chinese people are doing it in the park early in the morning, there must be something to it. But then, that's just supposition on my part. I could be wrong.
> maybe you want to work with qigong instead.
My understanding is that qigong involves harnessing and channeling internal energies. No offense, but I believe the human body is a chemically driven electro-mechanical machine and nothing more. I do not believe there is any such thing as "chi" or internal energies.
I believe the wellness and health people experience as a result of Tai Chi / Martial Arts practice are the result of good chemical balance due to routine cleansing and toning of the body through exercise, not magic or unknown forces.
My hope what that becasue Tai Chi has been practised for health reasons for thousands of years, during that time they had sorted out what patterns provide a good workout or the entire body, but didn't result in mechanical harm to the body like modern MA's such as Karate and TKD do.
> Please avoid any Cheng Man Ching style stuff. If you do want to see taiji that will get a sweat on...looks for videos by Chen Xiao Wang or Chen Zhen Lei
Thanks Mandeigh! That's the information I'm looking for. I need direction as to where to begin study about this stuff just like a jiu-jitsu newbie needs direction about how to avoid the flim-flam and find the effective-for-combat stuff.
> I believe that ashtanga (sp) is a dynamic, sweat inducing form of yoga
Yes. I first heard about it several years ago when it was recommended by the great BJJ fighter Rickson Gracie (before people like Madonna got into it). I'm still looking into it, slowly, but surely.
I've decided to slowly begin new MA pursuits that I can do solo until somebody opens up a good school in my town. I refuse to start another one. I know it's selfish, but I teach all day 8-5/M-F to earn a living and on my own time I just want to train for ME.
After I do a lot of reading and looking, perhaps I'll know enough to plunk down the coin for a seminar or visit a school in Dallas or Houston. I just needed my trustworthy Budoseek brethren to point me in the right direction.
> Fly me down to texas when its cold up in Boston....I can get you started...of course you will also have to take me out shooting.
I can't fly you down, but it you should ever visit Texas I promise as a personal favor to Jeff Burger I will take you motorcycle riding on my BMW and take you out and let you shoot all kinds of guns. :)
So, do I just show up at your door?
How did Jeff get into this?
About working up a sweat without wrecking your joints - this is exactly what you can get from Tai Chi practice.
and chigong is not mystical channeling- it's the chi in Tai Chi. No chigong=no Tai Chi.
The only note on Ashtanga yoga is that there are some 'impact-y' jumps (not really ballistic-but you do jump) that may not be what you are after.
Thanx John...we will have to patch her up and send her down some time.
Its not easy playing with guns here in Mass.
not exactly...short forms have been introduced for the lazy western market.....we don't have time to spend working on this, we want a whole form yesterday. Please avoid any Cheng Man Ching style stuff. If you do want to see taiji that will get a sweat on...looks for videos by Chen Xiao Wang or Chen Zhen Lei, this stuff is the real deal and not the hippy, barefoot nonsense that is really tai cheeese (thanks to Mr Stonehart for that expression).
Click here for Chen Xiao Wang
i clicked that link and its like 200 dollars for a workshop(2 days), isn't that a bit much? Or am I just poor? Is there anyway to get a scholarship for stuff like this?:confused:
Taiji is also about cultivating qi, but it does not have to mean the spooky stuff. Its more about the way in which you use your body. Qigong can be the gentle dancy stuff like the hippy dancy taiji stuff or it can be a serious workout like Zhan Zhuang......try holding your arms up for a couple of minutes without tightening all the muscles to do it...let alone 15 and you will really get a sweat on.
The only thing I can think is to go to a seminar with a decent teacher just to have a look and get a taster. You only need a couple of moves to work on.......
200 for a seminar is probably about the norm,
Was Zheng Manqing so terrible? I think he definitely had 'it' - even if he was not as good as Yang Chengfu or Wu Jianquan, he still had something that we all want. :)
I've never done Chen style Taijiquan, but can it be too hard on the joints in some cases? As in, does stomping and other movements have a potential for harm? It would seem to me that Wu or Yang style would be better as a therapeutic practice?
Anyway, $200 is not that much for a seminar. Well, it might be. I guess it depends on how much you want something?
But, I guess that if you want to learn Taijiquan but there are no teachers around you, seminars are the only way left? Perhaps buying a video (with what you learned at the seminar in it) will help, too, to help you make sure that you aren't doing something wrong... (No going ahead on your own) :)
Can you learn Tai Chi on your own?
It would be alot harder than learning Karate or TKD from a video as there is alot more detail.
I've been wanting to do the same thing for a while now but with Pa'kua but the videos I've seen have left a lot to be desired. Looks like I'm going to have to pencil in the time to go do a class or a seminar.
Are there no Bagua classes around your area? (I think I have heard of some in Australia, though I am not sure about your location.)
What videos have you seen already? Bagua seems to be a lot harder to learn than Taiji, so video might be difficult...
Hi Edward, yes there are some Pa'kua teachers in Australia and (no disrespect intended) the video's I saw from Erle Montegu weren't really what I was interested in.
I've heard that there is a particularly good instructor who operates out of Melbourne University but that is about an hour from where I am (even longer in the afternoon hometime rush) and it's a little hard to justify to the Mrs.
The reality is that I'm interested but obviously not interested enough that it is at the forefront of my criteria at the moment. Got too many things on at the moment to give myself time to train in another MA. Still like to though...
Melbourne... Are you perhaps talking about the Ziranmen Academy? They had a few seminars in August and early this month with Liu Jingru... (but I think you missed them. :( ) I guess that you could try waiting for new seminars if they come. (One Saturday should be justifiable to the Mrs., right? :) )
As for videos... It's pretty darn hard to learn from video, but they are nice if you just want to see what the art is like. I hear good things about videos by Luo Dexiu (Liu Jingru has VCDs out in Chinese, which you might try, too - but I haven't heard much on them.).
Ziranmen Academy? I'm not sure. There are some references from the other section of this site when you look under Pa'kua. I'm not even sure how far I really want to get 'into' it. Learning how to walk the circle would be a good start, but I don't particularly want to learn a lot of Chinese. I've learnt Indonesion, Japanese, Mandarin, Cambodian and Vietnamese in the past and the only one I can remember (and that's only for specific terms) is Japanese.
Are you in Oz too? You don't have much in your profile...
Yeah, I'd probably be right for a weekend or two, just it's hard to justify to her for me to take a weekend off work to go 'play martial arts' when I have difficulty taking time off to have family days. ;)
> Taiji is also about cultivating qi, but it does not have to mean the spooky stuff.
I've done a bit of reading on the subject and now understand what you mean. Without a live teacher to explain it to me in non-mystical terms, I'm pretty sure my efforts at learning Tai Chi via books and videos would be frustrating.
I'm an analytical person with a Western education and mindset. An instructor saying "Stand here for 30 minutes in this posture and get your qi in order" simply would not work for me. I'd need a better explination of the reason.
> Can you learn Tai Chi on your own? Simple answer....no."
I see that now. If I get the opportunity, I'll check out a class in Dallas or Houston to see what I can find out.
Thanks for the info guys! I'll continue to assimilate and digest information on this subject.
Just for you John.......
You could always move to colorado and learn some "Tai Chai"
PED 143 Beginning Tai Chai
This course is designed to introduce Tai Chai as an expression of understanding of self-control, exercise and self-defense. The primary emphasis is to gain an understanding of the history (origin and changes) of Tai Chai, the movements and their names, application of movements and terminology*.
(*terminology... like the meaning of the words "Tai Chai" :rolleyes: )
Nude Tai Chi....lol...I also noticed that nude Yoga and a few other nude videos...well they got their marketing strategy.
I wonder if she'd be but for co-starring in a BJJ video with me?
101 Ways to GET IN their guard.
Some of these videos kill me...they soooo totally suck.
Denise Austin comes quick to mind.
Ha! That reminds me of the time several years ago when all those muscle-headed wrestlers invaded the BJJ forums. At that time RAW and the Lion's Den were dominating NHB, pushing out the BJJ guys.
They criticized us for practicing with kimonos and using the guard.
I posted pics from websites that sell gay collegate wrestling fetish videos. I said "No, we prefer to wear kimonos so we don't end up like you guys".
They went bananas! It was a hoot.
"Some of these videos kill me...they soooo totally suck."
I dunno', Jeff. Nude Tai Chi? How bad could it be? Really?
ps-Have you ever seen so many question marks?
Shock! Horror! John Bennet was a troll in a previous life? :D
Have you SEEN that mug?
Lufkins got a bridge somewhere... got to.:splat:
I must admit i did'nt take the time to read the entire thread ,but thought i'd offer you some help.
If you have the time?
Spend a couple of days a week getting up early and visiting a few local parks. You will be surprised at what's in your location that you were never aware of. Mainly on saturdays and sudays many masters or sifu will get together with a small group of ppl to do taiji in the early morning hrs.
Also like i said you'll be surprised what's in your area. many traditional sifu do not advertise or teach publicly. You need to seek them out which can be very difficult. I seeked my current sifu out and he had'nt taught anyone for over six yrs when i found him.
I have a friend in EL Paso ,Texas that is a Hung Gar sifu that also teaches Sun Style Taiji.I'm not sure how close that is for you but he is the real deal.
If you're interested let me know?
I'll be glad to introduce you to him.
"short forms have been introduced for the lazy western market"
I was under the impression that short forms were developed in China, nothing to do with "lazy westerners". And if teachers are prepared to distill their art so much for marketing purposes what does that say about their character?
Welcome to Budoseek RobP.
Per forum rules please include your real full name.
I dont know if short forms were create for lazy westerners.
I use a short form to start people out (24 form but with traditional techniques).
Then we offer a longer Chen form or weapons ( fan or sword).
Short forms were not made for "lazy westerners". They were created, some under the instructions of the Chinese Government, to make the health benefits more available.
I know quite a few westerners, who are not lazy, and train everybit as hard as our eastern cousins.
Short forms were not made for "lazy westerners". They were created, some under the instructions of the Chinese Government, to make the health benefits more available. :wink2: Hmmmm I was actually thinking of a quite specific style, that was definately created for lazy westerners as it appears to be practically unheard of in China........a very much watered down Yang style....... :eek:
And if teachers are prepared to distill their art so much for marketing purposes what does that say about their character? it says they are good at making money.......shortening a form doesn't necessarily distill the art, leaving out the body mechanics and essences and qi development and applications and understanding of the whys and wherefors is what distills it. And sometimes teachers do that because they lack depth of knowledge, sometimes they do it to stay in business. You could even consider that YCF did this to a degree.......
Terry Dunn has a good Yang style video. Wen-Mei Yu has a easy to follow Wu style (3 volumes). Eddie Wu Kwong Yu (Wu style) has one that you learn in front of a mirror so it's easier to follow than others. Chen style is faster and has jumps if you are worried about your joints. A consideration when deciding to do Taiji is your strict western mind set. You might go nuts trying to explain things that don't really happen! LOL!
Looking at Tai Chi Chuan is like looking into a room with the drapes shut so the saying goes do not judge a book by its cover.
There was a little Cheng Man Ching bashing going on. The great contributions made by CMC cannot be denied most importantly in the west. CC Chen, TT Lang all students of CMC and CMC student of Yang Chen Fu.
I have met some very martially skilled Tai Chi Chuan players that do CMC exclusively, take a look at the footwork in the routine notice something different?
If a Tai Chi Master came to the US during the yuppie era instead of the hippy era with an ancient art would all the students then be called self-absorbed little brats?
No offence intended to anyone but I am close to the Cheng Man Ching Family in linage and personally (formally taught instructors,his son) I only put this out as the other side of the coin and that skill level depends on good people and then skilled Tai Chi Chuan instructors to show the way.
I also agree that some that where never formally taught by CMC or his instructors some how obtained the movements and are passing outer looks as a teaching and that is not correct by any standard.
Hi Jim,Our organization has what we feel is a fantastic distance learning program that covers a lot more than just forms.E mail me for info.
As per forum rules, each post needs to be signed with you real first and last name.
Chang Men Chen did to Tai Chi what Funakoshi did to karate...watered it down to a sport / exercise.
Chang Men Chen did to Tai Chi what Funakoshi did to karate...watered it down to a sport / exercise. sad but true...he may have oppend up taiji to a wider audience but there are serious doubts about the level of his Yang style, which is why so many people are trying to get to the root of the art and study directly with the families.....
Stepping back a little... I believe that, as with anything else, one could learn tai chi by himself. It's just a matter of time and effort (gongfu). The benefit of having an experienced sifu is that you could learn from him way faster than learning on your own. It's you who practices, not your instructor, and you only learn it by practicing and getting a feel for it. About the difference between tai chi and taiji = none, they are only different ways of translating a pictogram or a sound into roman characters. The martial taiji has been a bit lost since the cultural revolution of 1949, but its name is still the same, tai chi or taiji depending on the romanization you use. If you are interested in learning from a video or a book, I recommend doing a good search and talking to as many people from the field as you can to not get trapped. I haven't checked his materials on tai chi, but I read some other books by Dr. Yang that proved to be excellent.
"It's just a matter of time and effort (gongfu). "
But time and effort at what?
They dont know what to do and if they try copy a book or video they are very likely to be doing it wrong.
Better to wait for a good teacher.
Indeed, Jeff, but many times it's really tough to find a sifu at all. Other times they are so bad that they might lead you on the wrong way and even have you attain injuries from bad postures. In my opinion, a good book in connection with a video should properly describe the movements in such a way that you could reproduce them by yourself after trying time and again. If I tell you to stand still, back straight and arms relaxed you can reproduce it fairly well, can't you? Of course, whenever it's possible to have an experienced teacher to guide you it's better so that you don't go much off track.
Is watering down Taijiquan necesarilly a bad thing? Yeah, I prefer to learn the old school style good for fighting stuff, but short forms emphasising the health aspects get people to exercise more who normaly wouldn't and could possibly add a few years to someone's life span and increase their quality of life too. As long as the real stuff is getting passed on to more people too, it's ok with me. I think helping millions of people become healthier is a fair trade off for having to look a bit harder to find some who knows the complete art.
BTW, as for how to find someone who knows real taiji quan... I think the easiest way is to start with one of the main taijiquan families, and work backwards from there. Asking around a bit, it's not too hard to trace lineages, and most of them have videos out so that it's easy to find out what the style should look like.
BTW, if you can't find a teacher, it is best to travel to a seminar occasionally and learn a little bit at a time than to try and teach yourself. And seminars on average by quality teachers do tend to run $100+ per day, so it can get expensive.
Well if you want to go to China $200 a week can get you private room, 3 meals a day and 4 hours of prviate lessons a day.
In October Im going tobe moving into a bigger apartment (extra bedroom) just for people who want to come for intensive training.
Not sure what Im going to charge for that. Room + 1 private a day plus access to the gym and all classes while they are there.
lol, yeah, going to China could end up being somewhat cheaper than a lot of places charge for private lessons, and seminars around here :D I know some of my classmates have gotten some dirt cheap training there in the past :p A plane ticket may even be cheaper than what you'd pay for gas now ;)
Let me start by saying that I agree that the best bet is probably to fork out and do some workshops or try to contact your nearest school to see what they can do. (You might be able to get some personal tuition, for you to go away and practice and comeback a few months later). Books/videos can help you to remember what you've been taught.
Now, to my other point:
Zheng Man Qing.
The guy appeared in New York when 'hippies' abounded. It was added to the new age phenomenon. A bunch of people latched on to that, with a few lessons (not of much worth probably) and started airey fairy taiji classes. This has continued and spread. This does a great diservice to Zheng Man Qing. Just because you know the form, does not make you fit to teach.
There are, on the other hand, a great deal of taiji players of quality, that have studied with the Professor or one of his direct students. (Huang Shan Shyen, Liu shi hung, tan chin ngee, wolfe lowenthal, william cc chen, tt liang, ben lo, ken van sickle, etc) These people do not practise a 'watered down' art. They have devoted a great deal of time and energy in studying their art. Anyone who has experienced any of their workshops would attest to this.
The fact that the form has only 37 postures is irrelevant as it was originally only 13! So to talk of short forms is only valid for forms with fewer that this number. Does knowing more postures mean that you are a better taiji player, or does it just meant that you know more postures?
It is unfortunate that people see the need to put others down in order to justify their own worth.
It is the artist that is at fault and not the art!
Please note that this is not attacking another style/school I am putting my point across in as calm a way as I can.
Good luck to the guy that started this thread. I hope you are able to do something to learn some taiji, it's great stuff.
Gordon 'away for a calming lie down in a darkened room' Stewart
p.s. I know I spellt some of the names wrong, apologies to any concerned.
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