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Tai Chi Challenge #7 - 12 Taoist Core Exercises

The challenge of Tai Chi is not simply getting movement right, it’s about embodying the Tai Chi principles within our practice. Often, if we’re short on time we can find ourselves in a, ‘get it done’ mindset. Get our chi kung done, get our form work done, all within a narrow window of time. This can lead us to simply going through the motions of our practice instead of simply being present and practicing as well as we can in an unhurried way. At the end of the day it’s the quality of our practice that will bring reward, not just the quantity. Further to that, the nature of the form, a long sequence of movements with each different to the last, can draw us into a, ‘done that, now this, then that’, approach. The movement we’re going to do next takes our attention away from the present. That’s one reason that Chi Kung is so powerful, we’re just there, there’s no next movement, we’re just there, in that place, in that moment. What we want is a bridge that can help us maintain that state while we transition from stationary Chi Kung into the continuously moving, ever different Form. If only we had an exercise that was at the same time regular and unchanging and yet, continuously moving… Well, we do, we have 12 of them in fact, the 12 Taoist Core Exercises that we practice at the beginning of every class. These are generally seen as exercises undertaken to prepare the body and mind for the business end of training. They loosen and relax the body while circulating the energy and unifying body and mind. But we must be careful not to fall back into the ‘get it done’ mindset. It’s said in Tai Chi, ‘everything is in everything’. This is simply that ‘everything’, all the principles and concepts are present in ‘everything’ all practices, postures and movements. Eventually permeating everything I do. So, all those principles we discuss should be present in every one of the 12 core exercises. The benefit of the exercises is that they’re repetitive, relatively simple movements, usually focused on a particular part of the body. An opportunity for us to move and yet not move away from familiarity. And through that an opportunity to find a deeper level of understanding of a particular concept. Challenge 7: Don’t just practice the Chi Kung and the Form. Do the exercises too! Choose one of Yang Chang Fu’s 10 essential points and focus on it with the exercises, possibly with one exercise in particular. See how it feels. Do it again tomorrow. See how far you can take it in the week. Enjoy! If you’re new to classes and can’t recall the exercises clearly, you can find them within the ‘15 Minute Tai Chi’ or ‘Yang Training Part 1’ packages on the Master Ding Academy Streaming site.

Ross Cousens

# Tai Chi # Tai Chi warm up exercises



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