I’ve returned to teaching beginners recently and that’s left me with a problem: I need a simpler Tai Chi form to teach.

The main problem with beginners learning Tai Chi is remembering the movements. While this is all a distant memory for me, lost behind 30 years of practice, I can see that the struggle is real for them – where does this arm go? Where are my feet? What move is next?

Also, the complexity of movements is an issue. Moves involving kicks where you have to stand are a lot harder for people without any background in a sport or a martial art to do.

I also need a Tai Chi form that’s short enough that the end of it isn’t so far away as to be unattainable to beginners, but has enough content in it that there’s something of a work out going on.

So I came up with doing some modifications to the first section of our long form and running with that. Here it is:

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I think this form has a good balance of everything – it’s long enough that there’s enough to learn and practice, plus the movements are relatively simple for beginners, with no complicated kicking or turning manoevers. But it’s not so long that it’s going to take months to get to the end of.

Once the form has been learned and the first 6 posture principles of Tai Chi adhered to:

  1. Suspend the head
  2. Centre the coccyx
  3. Round the shoulders
  4. Bend the elbows
  5. Hollow the chest/raise the back
  6. Bend the knees

…and a reasonable level of relaxation achieved, then they can work on principles, like arms following the body, not moving independently. A good way to work on this is through silk reeling exercise.

Of course, after beginners have reached a reasonable standard in this form, they can move on to the full Lam short form, which is more of a challenge. But I suspect that for a lot of people, this little form will be enough.

I also updated my Tai Chi teaching website with a new name Slouching Tiger. Check it out.

Image credit: eberhard grossgasteiger

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