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Frequently Asked Questions

To many people, tai chi is a most unusual activity. To untrained and inexperienced eyes, this slow moving and graceful activity looks almost, well... (I can hardly say it) boring. Yet - done properly - it can be one of the most fascinating and dynamic exercises you can possibly do.

This practice is still relatively new to the west. When I began tai chi in 1969 - no one new what on earth I was doing. In fact - people watching my slow, strange movements and obvious involvement in the process likely thought I was a candidate for the 'loony bin'. Now - tai chi is much more popular, and is even used in milk, Wonderbra, lemon cleaner and many other TV and print advertisements over recent years - adds which exposed tai chi to millions of people.

There are still many questions. Here are a few of them, and answers that may help.

arrow Age?
arrow I'm too busy...
arrow Frustrating?
arrow Sitting tai chi
arrow Is it exercise?
arrow Powerful? How?
arrow Life applications

SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)    "Is there an optimum age to learn tai chi?"

SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)    Tai chi is perfect for any age. However, it is around middle age that people suddenly realize that they have lost flexibility, that they can't stand on one leg, that they need help dealing with stress and help sleeping. People with other age related problems like sore knees and backs begin to desperately look for answers.

It seems that most people want or need what tai chi offers - the introspection, meditative aspects, flexibility, balance, mental improvements) as they begin to age. I have taught many younger folks, especially students who are highly stressed - who have embraced the movements and principals and received tremendous benefits.

Quite simply, all ages and skill levels benefit from Easy Tai Chi practice.

WARNING - this is so important
if you want to succeed!

If you take a class or buy a DVD that tries to teach dozens or hundreds of postures, or if the instructor faces the camera - the odds are that you will QUIT IN FRUSTRATION.

We teach a smaller number of postures in depth, allowing you to enjoy many benefits in a short period of time. If you want more, buy a package with several of our DVDs, but learn them one at a time - just like going to regular classes.

Read this Page: Click Here

And we have digital files for your phone or tablet.
 

SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)    "I've heard that it takes years of study to benefit from tai chi practice. That it is only helpful for people who completely devote to it. I don't have the time, but want benefits. Is it possible?"

SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)    Tai chi, like many 'eastern' practices, can be studied and improved upon 24 hours a day, for life. But so can golf, or playing the cello - both of which offer pleasure at almost any level. Very few people will become tai chi virtuosos - but they can still receive vast benefits with regular daily practice - even with just five minutes a day!

More often than not, tai chi instructors often attempt to teach complex movements and details to people who aren't ready for or interested in those details - they simply want to relax, to learn how to breath, to improve balance, memory and concentration. I was one of those instructors.

Now I concentrate on the simplicity of tai chi, of helping people take vital first steps into this wonderful art. They say that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. Present the 1000 miles all at once, and most people will never make the journey. Offer the first simple step, and people will benefit from each and every step they take, no matter how far they go!
 

SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)    "I don't learn patterns well, and have no experience in dance or martial arts. Will I get frustrated? Will I receive benefits?"

SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)     Frustrated? Only if you expect to master it, to memorize the moves in an unreasonably short period of time. Benefits - absolutely!

Be gentle with yourself. Unlike most of our lives - there is no rush. The Tai Chi for Busy Peopletm DVD is step by step. Do a little everyday, and know that whatever you accomplish in that time is perfect. Who cares how long it takes? Not me.

The free audio CD download for your phone or tablet is designed to walk you through the moves - so you never really have to memorize the series. What you want is the breathing and movement - it doesn't matter whether you memorize the moves.

I find that the 'left brain' types learn it quickly, albeit often rather mechanically. You 'right brain, can't remember pattern' types often have wonderful grace and flowing in the moves. It's a trade off.

The moves will train your 'left brain', but will give your 'right brain' a chance to dance. Have fun and enjoy the process!
 

SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)    "My legs are weak, and I am in a usually sitting or in a wheel chair. Can I still do tai chi?"

SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)     Absolutely, but with your health care professional's permission. All the upper body movements, and even the leg movements (if possible) can be adapted to a sitting position. The moves can provide significant back stretching and exercise - an important and valuable feature to the exercise - but only if your back is in reasonable shape.

The 4 Minute Fitness video is even more appropriate for sitting practice. The movements are all taught from a sitting and standing position. www.4minutefitness.com

Always take it slowly at first, adapt it to your specific capabilities, and consult your doctor, therapist or chiropractor!
 

SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)    "I just can't believe that these slow moves are exercise, or increase flexibility. How does it work?"
SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)    Some styles of tai chi lean more toward the meditative aspects, and others are more physically demanding. Personally - I want to get the most out of my tai chi and to offer the most - so I practice and teach ways to maximize stretching and strength, while at the same time - enhance breathing and the meditative qualities. I guess I want it all, and I figure that many of you do, too!

Every instructor choose his/her own methods. In my Easy Tai Chi packages and seminars, I chose dynamic moves that can strengthen the legs, and loosen the hips; I teach simple methods to increase spinal flexibility (so important, and so often forgotten), enhance breathing skills and stimulate the immune system, and I offer ways to relax at the same time.

The best part of these moves is that they can be done with a different focus each time. In the morning - perhaps focus on the flexibility, at work - maybe the breathing and concentration becomes the focus, and before bed - the relaxation and peaceful aspects may be most important.

As Chungliang Al Huang said - you are the dancer and the dance. Learn all aspects, then do them any way that works for you!
 

SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)     "How can anything as slow and soft as tai chi be powerful?"

SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)      First thing to realize is that soft doesn't mean without structure, or being wimpy. Soft refers more to the concept of going with the flow, being relaxed in the face of hardness.

When you learn to become grounded, you become difficult to uproot. When you learn to punch with softness, the snap at the end of the punch is explosive (like the slowness of a whip through the air - the snap at the end is potent).

Krisanna and I demonstrate softness in the Tai Chi for Busy People DVD. When she becomes hard - like a post - she is easy to push over. When she is soft and flexible, I can't find her center (she actually disappears, in a way) and my push causes me to loose balance. And in that loss of balance - she is able to flow with me and cause injury - with little effort on her part.

As well - moves practiced and perfected slowly - over and over again - are incredibly precise and powerful when done with speed. When I competed in karate tournaments, I almost always placed first or second in the kata (form) events, even against much younger and stronger competitors. Why? Not because I had any more talent than they had, but simply because I practiced each form slowly and precisely - over and over (just like tai chi). Great precision training for the brain! So when I performed the moves quickly, they were exact and powerful.

People who practice tai chi for the health benefits actually train their bodies to find better balance, to be more rooted - so that they respond in better ways in real life situations (walking on ice, being bumped at a shopping mall - and not falling over). They carry themselves in a softer manner - (i.e.: shoulders relaxed, reducing head and back aches). The learn to breath more deeply, improving body functioning and reducing stress. All this is learned at a slow speed, then becomes a part of your 'program', your reflexes.

And the slowness is so meditative and relaxing! A moment of peace in a hectic world.


SY00403_.WMF (4974 bytes)     "So - how does this apply in other areas of my life?

SY00381_.WMF (3464 bytes)     In so many ways. Consider this aspect of hardness in relationships. You and your spouse get into an argument, and are hard in your position. You keep pushing your view point at each other, with increased force and attachment to your opinions. This can go on for hours, days, weeks - because you continue to offer your partner more and more to push against.

What would happen if you softened in your approach? If you simply said - 'an interesting point. Thanks for offering your view.' And moved onto the next subject. Not only is the argument over - it didn't begin in the first place. By offering softness, you offer nothing to push against. By letting go of attachment to your opinion, your partner loses the energy attached to his/her opinion. End of story.

In many instances, softness is the fastest road to victory. With ease and grace.

Dr. Keith Jeffery
"A revolutionary
approach"


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