Three Ways to Practice Tai Chi
By Steve Rowe
Always begin with Monk style... Neigong, Qigong, the Yang Chen Fu form and basic push hands drills. Practice like a monk in the temple gardens, with no 'martial' applications in mind, get rid of violence, aggression, fear and anger by clearing your mind, making it aware, focused, sensitive, intense and bringing it to a state of peace and stillness. Do this by working on your posture and breathing, this will bring forth these qualities of mind. Be gentle, soft, circular, continuous and let the mind be at ease. Until you can practice this way, DO NOT MOVE ON as you will not progress.
Now you have the 'yin' and have cleared your mind and emotions, have good posture, balance and free movement without excessive tension, you have 'cleared down' or 'emptied your cup' and are ready for the martial fairydust. The 'Chong Chuan' introduces the powerful, focused and intense intention to direct the 13 Dynamics and skills such as the 'fa geng' (jing) and work with an opponent in mind.
Learn the weapons forms and their proper skills and drills so you understand the strategies and skills of using that particular weapon. We use broadsword, double edge sword and spear. Push hands drills now also become dynamic, to include applications of the techniques, ideas and principles in the form and can also become enthusiastic 'play'. Wall training also helps with combative training and adrenaline release.
Sick Man Style
Sometimes called 'Drunken', is to exaggerate the power sourcing of the moves, utilising the bodycore and spine and taking all positions to the absolute furthest point to 'fire' the power. 'Sick Man' because it's using the core in a vomiting way (without actually doing it) to project the power.
I cannot stress the importance of 'Monk Style' first to 'clear down' ready for 'Warrior Style' training and 'Sick Man Style' is an additional way of building those essential power skills. Many practitioners never get past the 'Monk Style' and many don't want to, but for those interested in the complete art, 'Warrior' and 'Sick Man' are essential for vigorous health, self defence and strategies for life.