When practicing the Tai Chi Form there are many things to pay attention to. You can find some of them in Sifu William C. Phillips’ Ten Essential Points of Practice. Here are some additional things to remember:
- The importance of moving slowly through the form cannot be overemphasized. It will improve the smoothness of your motions, which will improve the connectedness of your motions.
- Tai Chi movement is movement that is performed in a connected fashion. This means that motion starts in the spine, goes to the waist, moves down through the legs to the feet, and simultaneously up through the body to the arms, hands and fingers.
- Tai Chi power, or fa-jing, travels differently from Tai Chi movement. The power starts in the feet, moves through the legs, is controlled by the waist, and expressed by the hands and fingers.
- Being disconnected is a serious fault that can only be overcome with slow movements and proper instruction.
- Make sure your shoulders are dropped to eliminate tension.
- The wrists should be straight to form the “beautiful lady’s hand” when performing Cheng Man-Ching’s form. While the other points apply to all Tai Chi forms, this one is a basic and very important characteristic of Professor Cheng’s form to cultivate energy flow.
- The chest should be depressed and the back raised, but without force.
- Focus your breath on your dan-tien, but don’t force it there. As you become more accomplished, you should synchronize your breath with your movements. Consult your teacher as to when you should inhale or exhale.
- The head should feel as if “suspended from above”.
- Keep your knees bent throughout the entire form, and don’t let your height bob up and down. Except for certain points in the form, the height should be maintained at a constant level.
Do not expect to be able to watch all of these at the same time. It is best to pick one to try to master each month and embed it into your form, then proceed to the next point. In time and with patient practice, you can reach a very high level.