Learning taiji online is impossible, but not impractical. The key to getting the most benefit outside of the classroom involves understanding what can be achieved and what can not be achieved and through this understanding develop goals that are obtainable. Through the course of studying theory and my own personal encounter with Master Chen I have come to realize that taiji is an art of deconstruction. It is about taking all of the human habits that are not taiji and slowly deconstructing these habits to make them into something that slowly becomes taiji. This idea that taiji is an art of deconstruction has offered me guidance towards this approach to learning taiji online.
Since I didn’t have access to anybody that could teach me taiji, following the online videos was my only alternative. I wanted to be prepared for my first workshop so I decided that I would start learning the basics with one important rule in my mind. That rule was, “quality is more important than quantity”, or in Master Chen’s words, “it is better to do one thing right than many things wrong”. My game plan was simple, I wanted to learn the first 13 movements.
In order to know what I needed to do I had to familiarize myself with the rules. I wanted to know what movements were allowed, so I purchased a series of videos:
- Suspended Head
- Thigh in Tai Chi Chuan
- Hand, Elbow and Shoulder Functions in Tai Chi
- Function of the waist in tai chi movements
- Kua, knee and foot.
Once I got a general idea of the rules I looked for a video of the first 13 movements. I found that,
“Yilu first 13 moves simple lesson”
was the best video to learn from. At the initial stage the choreography is the most important since the understanding of the deeper meanings can not be seen, but must be felt. I had one month before the workshop so I decided to learn 3 moves a week. I was more focused on quality than quantity.
In the, “Yilu first 13 moves simple lesson” Master Chen breaks all the moves up into counts and this makes learning the choreography a lot easier. By following my game plan I was able to learn the choreography before the workshop and follow along with the group.
In conclusion, I believe that it is more beneficial to take it slowly and learn things right even if it is just one thing at a time, as progress will be about making fewer mistakes. Do not expect to be perfect with the form. Finally, the only way to know if you are doing things correctly is to attend a workshop and to receive instructions from somebody that knows taiji.