My Ten Points on T’ai Chi
By William C. Phillips, Patience T’ai Chi Association
1. Approach: Approach T’ai Chi with no preconceptions. Experience T’ai Chi as meditation, physical culture and as an exercise in Chi’. You may develop self defense along the way, but you may also develop that which is truly supreme and ultimate.
2. Patience: Every person is an individual. Some things will come quickly, others slowly, and some, perhaps, not at all. Know that each person develops at his own pace. The student competes only with himself. Therefore, a student should not feel that he is falling behind if a fellow student develops a skill in a month that he cannot acquire in six. That student may develop more quickly in another area. But even if not, remember progress in T’ai Chi, for most of us, is measured not in months, but in years.
3. Perseverance: While most students experience some benefit from T’ai Chi practise within the first few weeks, T’ai Chi is the practise of a lifetime. Ever increasing benefits of T’ai Chi accrue with the decades of one’s practise. Practise should be morning and night all the days of one’s life.
4. Straight spine: This facilitates the flow of Ch’i up the spine.
5. Breathe to the Tan Tien: This develops Ch’i.
6. Empty the mind: T’ai Chi is meditation. This improves sensitivity to input, ability to react, ability to concentrate, and ability to be sensitive to and to control the Ch’i.
7. Single Weight: This enhances internal sensitivity and improves balance in the form, push hands and self-defense.
8. Feel air as substantial: If the air has substance, how much more substance will even your most supple opponent have? Also, this will aid in doing the form smoothly and at an even pace.
9. Softness through root: Develop your foothold so that 5 or 6 strong men together cannot push you. Also develop your ability at neutralizing and softness so that you need never use that root. In this way, while having substantial root, you will always feel light and supple.
10. Benevelence: Never try to harm any one in T’ai Chi practise, teaching or demonstration. In push hands and selfdefense, as in form, you are competing with no one except yourself. If your feel a need to overpower your partner in practise, then your real need is to over power your own ego. Your partner is there to help you develop your skills, and you his. When you are pushed by your partner, it is not your partner who has pushed you, but rather your inability to neutralize the push that has pushed you. You will be unpushed when you have sufficiently overcome yourself in body, emotions, mind and spirit.