Therapeutic Tai Chi Class Materials
Foundations Skills and Warm Up Playlist (menu in upper right of video window)
More WWTC video resources
1. Postural Alignment and Strengthening
"Standing like a Post" (zhanzhuang), erect and rooted in the ground, is a traditional exercise that helps the student discover the fundamental postural strategies of strong support and relaxation that are interdependent in all Tai Chi practice. It also helps calm the mind, sink the breath to the abdominal center, and free musculoskeletal obstructions that impede good circulation and coordinated movement. In the old days, new students were required to pursue this training for up to a year before learning the Long Form of linked movements.
The "Four Sides," are the four primary applications of force in Tai Chi. They are "Push up/out" (peng), "Pull-back" (lü), Squeeze-in (ji) and Press-down (an), and are named the "sides" because they apply force in a direct forward/backward manner (though the partner may still be unbalanced on an angular trajectory). Four movements at the beginning of the solo form are named after each of these techniques, but the basic techniques are found in many other movements as well. According the Traditional Chinese Medicine principles, these four body dynamics massage activate all the primary channels and Yin-Yang organs.
3. The Four Oblique Body Dynamics
The "Four Corners," are the four supplemental or secondary applications of force in Tai Chi. They are "Split" (lie), "Pluck" (cai), Lean-in or Bump (kao) and Elbow (zhou), and are named the "corners" because they apply force in an oblique or diagonal manner with more overt twisting of the body. As with the Four Sides, these basic dynamics are found in many movements of the Long Form. Because the body twisting is more obvious, they help the student understand the internal dynamics of the Four Sides, both in creating whole-body power and deeply massaging the organs.
4. The Cross-body Stance
The "Cross-body Stance" (aobu), often translated "Twist Step," introduces a powerful new boy dynamic to our repertoire: advancing the body with the opposite hand and foot forward. In some ways, this is the most natural movement yet encountered since it mirrors our walking gate. However, the forward lunge stance is much more dynamic than walking, and from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine strongly moves Qi and Blood to clear obstructions to circulation. This series completes the first section of the Tai Chi Long Form, which can be viewed with detailed instruction here.