Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Possibly the single most obvious defining feature of Tai Chi, is its speed of practice. Anyone walking through a park and spotting a group practicing Tai Chi would be able to correctly identify what they’re seeing due to its slow, measured pace. This pacing can be viewed in many ways, its continuous, unhurried nature reflects our greater Tai Chi journey, at once not rushing, yet simultaneously, at no time stopping. It’s this slow speed that allows us to bring all parts of our body and our mind, together into one, and then moving forwards, in unity. Possibly the greatest gift this slow speed has for us is the opportunity to identify areas of our practice that we’re not confident with. Once we’ve learned a form well enough to perform it without too much thought, we can easily speed through parts that we’re not comfortable with, without looking too closely. Often, we don’t quite know what the problem is, it’s just a vague unease. Of course, these are the areas we need to be focusing on more intently and not accidentally, ‘looking the other way’. It’s natural to not want to look at the problems, they’re our weaknesses and admitting to weakness, even to ourselves is challenging. There’s a great saying, ‘educate the fear’. Whatever it is that we’re avoiding, if we look at it square on, we see it for what it is, not what we imagine it to be, and its power is taken away. Now we can get on with analysis and correction. The pacing of our form can give us an opportunity to look at these areas from a distance, by slowing down an area that we’re not happy with, slower than normal pace, whatever the fault is, it will present itself. Challenge 14: Slow down. Take a problematic movement from the form and practice it slowly, then slower still. See the part that’s causing the problem. It might be balance while standing on one leg as you kick, it could be maintaining upright posture while pivoting weighted on the heel, it could be stepping smoothly and not falling into the next posture. Whatever it is, slow it down, find the particular issue. Once found, it’s relatively easy to work the problem out. If it’s particularly stubborn, refer to Yang Cheng Fu’s 10 essential points (see challenge #5), there a lot of answers there. Enjoy.