Philosophy

PHILOSOPHY

Tai Chi is guided by the principles of yin and yang, by regulating and finding the perfect point between opposites. 

01

Sinking to the Ground

In Tai Chi, we shed our weight to the ground, we surrender to gravity and we let go. How often do we hold tension because we are afraid? Sinking is not always a bad thing. It is letting a force bigger than ourselves guide us through muddy waters. 

02

Rising Up

I love the Japanese proverb 七転び八起き“Nana korobi, ya oki” which means “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” It means choosing to never give up hope, and to always strive for the best version of ourselves. Life is full of ups and downs and the choice is always up to us whether we stay down or rise up. 

To squat, I need to let go of so much, breathe easily in my core, and make friends with the grounds.                               ~The Morphology of Butoh

Basic Rules to Developing a Tai Chi Practice

Regular Practice is better than No Practice

Start with 10 minutes a day and slowly build up your regime. Don’t rely just on the once-a-week class times. Practice everyday to ensure you make progress. 

Pace Yourself

It’s better to practice Tai Chi frequently, even 5-10 minutes a day, than one hour a week. 

Be Patient with your Progress

Change happens slowly, and often unnoticed, in Tai Chi. Look for ways to mark your progress.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

People learn in different ways and progress at different rates. People reap the benefits Tai Chi differently according to where they are in life. 

Don’t be too Self-Critical

Silence your inner critic. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Enjoy and be in the moment–this will improve your Qi and make you more relaxed. 

Make Tai Chi part of your regular routine

Pick a regular place and time to practice Tai Chi, practice alone or with a friend, wear loose and comfortable clothes, turn off your cell phone–these steps can build a sense of ritual and a structured routine to help you prioritize your daily practice. 

Keep a Journal

Take notes after every class. Translate new movements into your own words or drawings. Reflect on the principles behind the movements. 

Find Ways to Integrate Tai Chi throughout the Day

Focus on the basic principles of Tai Chi  and incorporate the principles into your daily life. Where is your weight placement when you are standing? sitting? walking? 

Join a Tai Chi class

Find a teacher in your community. Connecting with other Tai Chi practitioners will provide social support, crucial for your own progress. 

 

How to Find a Good Teacher

It is very important to find the right teacher

If you’re new to Tai Chi you may be wondering what’s the big deal about finding a good teacher. There are a plethora of books and video instructions available on the topic, so why take the trouble to seek out a teacher? Like everything else in life, I believe it is crucial how we start building the learning blocks which form the foundation of what we are trying to master. We can learn on our own and try to be smart about it, but when nobody is there to correct our mistakes, we will only go down the wrong path without even realizing it. Stay humble and seek out a good teacher if you are serious about Tai Chi and you will never regret it. Also, to quote Steve Jobs, don’t settle until you find the right one! You will know in your skin and bones when you have found the right teacher. 

1. An experienced teacher

It is good to find out the lineage of the teacher and who his or her masters/ teachers are. Years of teaching experience is as important as the teacher’s range of knowledge. Take time to feel out the teacher. It is equally important for the student to observe the teacher as it is for the teacher to get to know the student.

2. Good teachers tend to attract a harmonious community

The community formed by the teacher and students is important in determining the sustainability of your practice. Usually, there are social activities that the community participate together to develop the rapport between one another. The harmony within the community creates a pleasant energy field for one to practice in.

3.  A teacher with good instructional skills and people skills

A Tai Chi teacher is more than just a teacher — he or she can be a mentor in life too if conditions are aligned. This is because Tai Chi is an integrated body-mind practice which is deeply connected to one’s thoughts and behaviour. The longer one practice Tai Chi, the more benefits and changes one will experience. It is important to match one’s teacher with one’s personality, temperament and needs because it is a long-term relationship if one plans to make Tai Chi a lifelong practice. 

4.   A comfortable environment in a practical location

One should feel very comfortable in the environment where one is practising. If it is located in a dangerous part of town or is far from where one lives, it will be more difficult to make the commitment to go to class. 

5.   Look for the right class size

The class size depends on one’s learning preferences. Some prefer one-on-one instruction, others prefer to blend in the class. Personally, I think it is important for a student to receive personal corrections from the teacher, so the class size should reflect the ability of the teacher to pay enough attention to each student. 

6.  Trust your instincts

Reflect on how you feel towards the teacher and trust your own emotions. You don’t want each class to be a battlefield, especially when you are trying to relax and sink into your body. Find a teacher whom you respect and can trust. Your instincts will be able to guide you to the right teacher. They say, when the student is ready, the teacher shows up.

7.  Consider the costs

This is as much a practical advice as it is a way to gauge the teacher’s experience. Some teachers charge more because they have more to offer. Costs should not be the ultimate deciding factor in choosing a teacher because there are usually ways to work around it. One can volunteer for the community and contribute in ways that one can if financial means is a deterrent. 

8.  Understand your goals

Part of learning Tai Chi is getting to know oneself. However, everyone embarks on this journey with a different motivation. It is good to reflect on your intention and to communicate it clearly on why you have decided to take up Tai Chi. This will also enable you to align your goals to the right teacher. 

9.  Pick a style

Lastly, pick a Tai Chi style that suits your goals and temperament. Some teachers teach a variety, others concentrate on one particular style. I think it is more beneficial to train in one style and progress at it then to train in many styles as a beginner. 

 

Reference: Wayne, P. (2013). The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart and Sharp Mind. Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston.  

 

 

 

My Journey

                                           我学习三星太极的感想 My Journey of Learning Tristar Taiji

时间一晃就过了三年。起初为什么想学太极?2015年10月我隔了十年再回到了温哥华。当时的我右腕损伤,右下巴出现了类似白癜风的症状。我的手脚总是冰冷的,气血不足,而且我时常都会感到很沉闷,提不起劲来。我一心想练太极和气功来改善我的健康。开始的时候,我跟两位老师学过太极,一个在本拿比(六个月),一个在列治文(三个月),但我觉得他们只教套路,而我想学的是基本功法。2016年9月,我在网上搜寻到了李蓉武术气功保健中心。记得第一次见到李蓉老师,我就有一种熟悉,似曾相识的感觉。上第一堂课,李蓉老师只教了我站桩。课后我特别高兴,因为我找到了我一直在寻找的老师。

How time flies. Three years have gone by since I first took up Tristar Taiji. I came back to Vancouver in October 2015 after being away for ten years. I had then sprained my right wrist and developed symptoms of vitiligo on my right chin. My limbs were always cold and I felt lethargic all the time. I wanted to learn Taiji and Qigong to improve my health. I first took lessons from two instructors, one in Burnaby (6 months) and another in Richmond (3 months). They were teaching the Taiji forms but not the basics. Unsatisfied, I continued my search for the right teacher until I found Li Rong Academy of Wushu and Qigong in September 2016. I will never forget that fateful night I met Master Li Rong for the first time. It was a sense of coming home and I felt instantly drawn to her. During my first class, she only taught me how to stand but I was ecstatic after class that night because I knew my search was over.

我从小习舞,芭蕾舞从5岁跳到15岁,现代舞从16岁跳到24岁。跳舞是我唯一能做的运动,我的四肢不灵活,小时候因为哮喘病,每年都要住上医院一段日子。我很享受通过舞蹈来锻炼身体的过程,但也跳出了一身的毛病。芭蕾舞讲究开胯,脚步轻盈,也许我没有接受过正确的指导,所以多年练成气都憋在胸前,腰和上半身是脱节的。因为从小死硬地压胯,导致我的髋关节和膝关节都变形了。后来,我2002年刚到温哥华的时候骑脚车受伤,撞裂了我的下腰椎。种种的经历让我34岁刚接触三星太极的时候是满身伤痕累累的。到现在,我的肩背和髋关节还是卡得很紧,虽然练了三年的太极有了一点进展,但康复的路还很漫长。学习三星太极一路来,身体的疼痛一直陪伴着我,不是膝盖痛,就是腰酸;不是肩紧,就是颈痛。李老师说痛是修复的过程,我想也是。伤痛是习武/舞的一部分,从小的训练也让我习惯了与痛作伴。

I started dancing at the age of five. I did ballet up until I was fifteen, then took up modern dance through my university years. Dance was the only sport I could do as I was not physically agile with chronic asthma as a child. Years of intensive dance training have given me immense joy but also a lot of injuries. To begin with, I had forcefully twisted my hips and knees to achieve the perfect turnout required in ballet. To add on, when I first came to Canada in 2002, an accident which threw me off my bicycle left me with a cracked lumbar spine. In short, when I started Tristar Taiji as a 34-year-old, I needed a lot of fixing. After three years of Taiji and Qigong practice, I have come a long way on my path towards recovery, but my back, shoulders and hips are still very tight. Pain has been a constant companion throughout my journey, but according to Master Li Rong, it is a part of rehabilitation. No pain, no gain—that I have learnt as a dancer since young.

严格来说,这几年我并不是一个称职的学生,时常因为各种理由而间断了训练。2017年,我的人生陷入了低潮。幸亏有三星太极的陪伴,老师和同学成了我精神的支柱,在我最彷徨的日子里支撑着我,一步一步地携助我把生活建立起来。在我一无所有的时候,我也未曾有过放弃三星太极的念头。虽然李老师很严厉,但所谓严师出高徒,我希望将来的有一天,我可以像李老师一样打得一手行云流水的太极。

Strictly speaking, I have not been a consistent student these past few years as I was practising intermittently due to various reasons. My life took a downturn in 2017, but thanks to Master Li Rong and my fellow classmates at the academy, I was able to rebuild my life with their unwavering support and encouragement. The thought of quitting Tristar Taiji has not crossed my mind even when I was at the lowest point in life. Master Li Rong is strict and demanding, but that is how great disciples are born. I am inspired to be a Taiji Master like her one day.