Tai Chi walking is one of the most important aspects of Tai Chi practice. Unfortunately it is one of the aspects that most beginners do not spend enough time on.
Someone new to Tai Chi will look at the movement of the hands believing this is what makes the practice so beautiful and graceful. This is right, when you look at a Tai Chi performance it is the slow flowing movements that keep people in awe, but the movements of the hands and torso should be guided by the practitioners lower body and waist.
During practice the whole body must be connected and move together. To achieve this can be a long frustrating process especially if you are expected to learn this coordination strictly through form practice. If the training is broken down into different steps the learning process is easier because the student can understand the different aspects that make up the movements.
Different aspects of training that can be steps on the learning process include: stance training, shifting the weight, Tai Chi walking, single posture practice (where one posture is repeated either in a static stance or while walking), and various stretching and Qi Gong exercises. Of these Tai Chi walking is a part of every movement in the form.
Tai Chi walking teaches how to be in control of our body as we move. It is different from normal everyday walking and because of this requires training. To be in control we must first be aware both of what we are doing and also what we are trying to accomplish. What we are trying to accomplish is to have the body in balance so that we can relax as much as possible while channeling the force of gravity and weight down through our body and into the ground. Then shifting this force and weight from one foot to the other.
Taking a step requires that we are in control through the whole movement. This means that at no point in the step should we find ourselves falling. If we are falling we are no longer in control. To accomplish this the stepping foot is placed down on the ground with absolutely no weight. Only then is the weight shifted slowly onto the foot.
There are three ways to walk and each must be mastered: walking forward, walking sideways, and walking backwards. Once these are mastered then you can start to add the hand movements. The hand movements must be coordinated with the steps and body. Working on and mastering this coordination is always easier if you already have a good grasp of the walking.
If you are not walking correctly then the hand movements will never be coordinated with the rest of the body. This coordination is what makes Tai Chi what it is. Because of this Tai Chi walking is one of the most important aspects of practice and should not be overlooked.
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