Taking Your First Steps in Tai Chi Chuan

If you watch a cat as it walks, you will notice how effortless but deliberate each movement is. The cat is always aware of and always ‘listening’ to the surface he is on. He is relaxed but he can lunge or retreat from danger at any time. A Tai Chi Chuan master moves the same way.

The first steps you take in Tai Chi Chuan may be as awkward and unnatural as the first steps you took as a baby. Or you might get the unstable feeling of a tight wire walker who is about to fall off. You feel that way because you are not centered, top-heavy, and your legs are not strong enough to carry your upper body. In Tai Chi Chuan, your legs are the foundation of the rest of your body. Practice stepping or “walking” as a solitary exercise will improve that sense of awkwardness.

Some pointers to help improve stepping in Tai Chi Chuan are:

Keep a straight-line feeling from the top of your head down through your tailbone. Divide your body down the middle, distinguishing the left side from the right side.

Divide your body in half, distinguishing the torso above the waist and the hips and legs below.
Keep all of your weight on the leg that is not moving.
Twist your waist toward the weighted leg.
Move as a single unit.

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