This week’s question was asked by Dave in Pittsburg, PA.
“Preparation,” I have heard it said, is one of the most important postures in the first third. What should I think about when I am practicing the preparation posture? Or if I can re-phrase my question — how should I prepare?
I am going to take a liberty with this question. I will discuss preparation for practice, rather than the posture. What goes for the one posture, goes for all.
First, put all else aside. If it is the morning practice, put off thinking about the day to come, let it go for 7 minutes, you can go back to it when you are finished with your morning practice. If it is the evening practice, hold off on reflecting on what you got done today and how it went, and what you have to do tomorrow. You can do think on it later. When you do Tai Chi at any level, you need to give yourself completely to the Tai Chi.
I am going to suggest here that you to please check our first QOTW, where we discussed this from the aspect of a more experienced practitioner. However, here we will take a beginners’ perspective, not because the question calls for it, but because we have not discussed this aspect previously…
Beginners need to think about the movements as they have learned them. They need to concentrate on their memory of the view of their teacher’s movements, the language he/she used to describe the movements, and the tactile memory of any corrections they might have received. They also need to consider any concepts that may have been explained, as to the purpose of the movements, as this will also help to know what to do.
After that, at the next level the student needs to access his memory of his/her own movements, his/her Tai Chi. He needs to concentrate on the memory of the movements to make sure they are right, and not shortcuts or more convenient moves, easier than what was taught, or moves that might make more sense, than that which you have learned. Tai Chi is counter intuitive, so do not try to figure it out, just remember it.
When the movements have been internalized, let the body do them, and listen to the body to make sure it is correct. A Karate Sensei of my acquaintance, Thomas Casale of the Japan Shotokan Karate Association has improved on the saying: “practice make perfect” .He says, truthfully, “Practice makes permanent.” And so you have developed a habit when you get the Tai Chi into your body. You need to really listen to your body to get the Tai Chi back into your conscious mind to correct it again.
In this way, you will learn the Tai Chi in an efficient and productive way.
In T’ai Chi,