Frequently Asked Questions

An extract from Tao Tai Chi Health


Why should one learn Tai Chi?
Tai Chi cultivates good character, promotes good health and is an excellent system of self-defence.

Is it enough to learn Tai Chi forms without studying its philosophy?
No. The theories and principles of Tai Chi must be learned in order to practice the forms and to derive full benefit from them. From the very beginning of Tai Chi all the great Tai Chi masters have emphasised the importance of learning the philosophy.

How should one practice Tai Chi?
First, keep your body thoroughly relaxed while practicing. Second, always do the form slowly. Third, carry out the movements with your shoulders and hips on planes that are parallel to the floor. Fourth, practice regularly every day without exception.

Why is our style of Traditional Tai Chi preferable to others?
The Traditional Tai Chi taught by Shen Long is optimized for health benefit, simplicity and gracefulness.

Why is Tai Chi so broadly recommended?
Tai Chi is recommended for virtually every person regardless of age, sex, health, philosophical or religious persuasion. It can be practiced at any time, any place and without the need for special equipment or conditions.

Why must one learn to distinguish between Yin and Yang in order to practice Tai Chi?
According to Tai Chi theory, Yin (negative) and Yang (positive) work together to make reality flow, neither can do so independently. Therefore, the ability to understand and distinguish between Yin and Yang is necessary to fully understand the theory, and therefore practice, of the Tai Chi forms. At advanced levels of practice, this ability is especially important.

What is the most important rule to follow while practicing the Tai Chi forms?
In the words of Grandmaster Cheng Man Ching, "relax, relax and relax again...and then relax even more!"

Why must breathing be kept natural while practicing Tai Chi?
Those movements that are natural to the human body are also the most harmonious. Tai Chi regards natural breathing as being in harmony with the natural order of both the body and the universe.

Why are the movements kept on a level parallel with the floor?
If the body moves up and down while practicing the Tai Chi forms, the circulation of internal energy throughout the body will be interrupted resulting in loss of benefit.

Why must the body move as a whole and not as separate parts?
Tai Chi emphasises the human being as a unified organism and is aimed at both internal and external well-being. When a person acts in such a way so that the internal and external forces flow smoothly, then that person will be achieve a peak of co-ordination and integration.

Why must all movements originate at the centre of the foot, at the Yong Quan point?
When energy flows throughout the body, starting from the feet even the Earth itself, and then up and out of the hands, then one is utilising Qi (Chi). The benefits and results of this kind of energy are quite different from, and much greater than, that of isolated muscles or muscle systems.

Why is it necessary to concentrate while practicing Tai Chi?
The end goal of practicing Tai Chi is the maintenance of optimal health and a long life. This can only be achieved under conditions that co-ordinate and unify the body and mind. Such a level of concentration is necessary even when used for self-defence.

Why must one relax while practicing Tai Chi for self defence?
First, relaxing the body is the most important rule for practising Tai Chi in general, even for health. In using Tai Chi for self-defence, however, it is of fundamental importance to be able to react to the moves of one's opponent by feeling them, by sensing and analysing their direction, their force and so on, at the moment of first contact with the opponent's body. This can only be done effectively if one's muscles and joints are fully relaxed.

Why is it important that movements are slow when using Tai Chi for self defence?
Tai Chi is a martial art that promotes the integration of the entire being, both mind and body. Only slow movements facilitate this unity and allows for maximum perceptivity and sensitivity to outside forces. In addition, slow movements also have the benefit of conserving energy. Finally, should fast movement be required, it will be more effective if built on slow movement.

Why should the body move as a whole when practising Tai Chi for self defence?
When the body is the base, or source of movement, for the limbs, the greatest force can be generated.