Our teaching is built on internal Tai Chi principles...
The benefits of Tai Chi come from embodying the internal principles – what we call being ‘in principle’. Our goal is to stay ‘in principle’ not just during class, but in everyday life – when sitting, standing, moving, or interacting with others.
What are the internal Tai Chi principles?
You can only fully understand Tai Chi principles by experiencing them in your own body. And they are best transmitted by a teacher who has them in their own body.
Where they are expressed in words, even in Cheng Man Ch’ing’s own writings, they can be difficult to understand. One reason is that Chinese teachers believe the struggle to understand a text is an important part of the learning process. Another is that these texts are trying to talk about the highest / deepest levels of Tai Chi.
However, at Beginners level, we have some simpler and more easily understood words to
(a) guide your intentions even in your very first Tai Chi experiences; and
(b) 'point the way’ towards the deeper understanding you will get through practice.
In class, we talk about 5 principles to start you on your journey (and about specific 'indications' to help you embody them):
We release physical tension and calm our mind. Ultimately, developing ‘looseness’ in body and mind helps us to feel more ‘at ease’
Moving from the centre (or Tan Tien)
We initiate all movement from our Tan Tien. Ultimately, developing an ability to rest our mind in the Tan Tien helps us to feel more ‘centred’ / 'calm'
We are held from above and root into the earth below. Ultimately, developing our connection to heaven & earth helps us to feel more 'stable' / 'secure'
Being 100% (or 0%)
Our weight is fully in one leg - the other 'steps empty'. Ultimately, developing Yin and Yang to the maximum helps us to feel more ‘alive’ (‘full of Qi’)
Beauteous (or Fair Maiden's) Hands
Our wrist joint is open and our hand is soft. Ultimately, developing both our internal and external connection helps us feel more 'unified' / connected.
You may hear other words to express these principles as you develop on your journey through the levels of teaching - and certainly you will hear new indications in classes at each new level. However, these initial words form a solid foundation to build on.