Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

June 11, 2013

The Harvard Medical School Guide To Tai Chi – A Book Review29

Transition to Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step

Transition to Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step

Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step
Oblique Brush Knee Twist Step

Turn Body
Turn Body

Chapter 3

Put the Principles into Practice: A Simplified Tai Chi Program

“This chapter provides a simplified Tai Chi program, structured in an easy-to-learn format, similar to the approach we have used in our research studies at Harvard Medical School. This 12-week exercise program includes traditional exercises handed down from my Tai Chi teachers and, in some cases, further shaped and informed by my medical research experience. I chose these exercises to deliver and maximize the “dose” of the Eight Active Ingredients of Tai Chi.”

“The Tai Chi exercises are broken down into three main sections.” “… seven traditional Tai Chi warm up exercises…” “The second section focuses on five core Tai Chi movements following the traditional Cheng Man Ching Yang-style short form.” “The program concludes with five minutes of a simple set of cool-down exercises.”

“The design of this collection of exercises allows it to stand alone as a complete Tai Chi program.”

[Everybody thinks that they can improve on stuff. I question the assumptions myself.]

[His warm ups are simply Qigong exercises or pieces of the Form which are used to practice, understand and experience certain concepts and effects. There is nothing wrong with this approach per se but when you deconstruct, reconfigure, mix, and interpret you presume a lot. Some might say that you dishonor the tradition and lose some of the essence of what makes Tai Chi Chuan magical. But for the sake of simple and for the purposes of trying to dissect elements for the microscope of science, I guess it makes sense.

His “Tai Chi Exercises” are more of the same: segments of the Form repeated in a Qigong fashion. Realize that the principle difference – on the surface – between Qigong exercises and a Tai Chi Form are that Qigong is a standing-in-one-place, exercise repeated a certain number of times, followed by another standing-in-one-place exercise repeated a certain number of times, again and again until you are finished. Again, there is nothing wrong with this approach, in fact, it’s the basis for essentially every drill, including the Push Hands drills. In fact all traditional Tai Chi Chuan “schools” have a syllabus containing many such drills, exercises, and Forms. One of the reasons people begin Tai Chi practice and then fail to follow through to completely learn meaningful components of what’s available is that these “simplified” programs are too boring to hold interest long enough for the student to really experience the deeper aspects of what is possible. You learn a Short Form and after a short time of practicing it, you start looking for something else to do. A traditional syllabus that has long Forms, with and without weapons, as well as the other “Pillars” of Tai Chi Chuan in it is a complete system and takes time to learn. Once learned and practiced the value to the practitioner becomes evident and the effects become obvious. Once you have learned a long round Hand Form, you have really learned something worth knowing. It is a part of something going back perhaps hundreds of years. It is something special. Reading about it or having someone tell you about it isn’t going to allow you to understand that, only years of regular practice will.]

About the Photos

This series of photos demonstrates the pivoting, stepping with transfer of weight, etc. It is a very interesting process becoming more and more flexible and realizing what that flexibility allows. As you learn “how” to do something you become aware of your limitations in getting into the positions you are instructed to achieve; later getting “there” isn’t an issue and the question of how far is far enough or the “right” amount shows up. Then you can play with why things are done the way they are. I know none of this makes sense until you experience it.

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