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48 Form Tai Chi Chuan Teaching

IV. Steps for Practice

In the second stage, a firm grasp of the rules of Tai Chi Chuan movements should be stressed. In order to demonstrate the characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan, we must focus on the following Points:

(I) Continuity: After a certain foundation has been laid for the positions and movements, the next step is to make the entire exercise continuous. Al1 movements should be well connected with those proceeding and those following. The whole set of exercises should be done without interruption, like flowing water and floating clouds. The end of one exercise is the exact beginning of the following one. For example, at the beginning, the four movements of warding off, stroking, pushing, and pressing can be practiced separately. After you are ski1led in these exercises, you should connect them fluidly and practice them as one. Although there should be a certain sense of rhythm between two exercises (as though a slight pause after one exercise is finished), the one following shou1d be started immediate1y as though the previous, exercise seemed to pause, but did not pause. The whole set of exercises should be well connected and done continuously without breaks. There should be no pause.

(II) Coordination: Tai Chi Chuan is an exercise for the whole human body. It calls for the movement of all parts at the same time, and good coordination among them. In executing the "cloud hand," for example, when the waist is turned, it drives the arms out to draw circles in the air with the palms turning inside and outside together continuously with the movement of the buttocks, and the legs supporting the entire body to move and turn to the 1eft or to the right, while the head also turns naturally with the torso. At the same time, the eyes look at the upper hand. In this way, the whole body moves in coordination, with close cooperation between all the body's elements.

(III) Circularity: Movements of Tai Chi Chuan are formed by various arts and curves. Once this rule is grasped, you can consciously avoid straight-line movements, dead turns, and right angles, and make your movements circular. The waist is pivotal for generating the movement of the limbs. Only when the waist is used as the pivot, is it possible to make hand movements and footwork circular, smooth, light, gentle and flexible.

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