Beginners Tai Chi Syllabus, Fall 2018
Goal: learn 24 Tai Chi form
Class time and place:
Contact: Dr. Malgorzata Marciniak
The following books were used in preparation of the syllabus and they are available through CUNY library:
“Tai Chi for Beginners and the 24 Forms” Dr. Paul Lam, Nancy Kaye, Family Health Matters (very basic introduction to 24 form, with photos).
“The Harvard medical school guide to tai chi: 12 weeks to a healthy body, strong heart, and sharp mind” Peter Wayne, Boston: Shambala 2013 (medical research proving health benefits of Tai Chi).
“The essence of Tai Chi” Waysun Liao, Boston, Shambala 1995 (philosophy and foundations of advanced Tai Chi)
“Chi: discovering your life energy” Waysun Liao, Boston Shambala 2009
Clothing: loose and comfortable, flat shoes, sneakers, socks, bare feet, make yourself comfortable
Food and drink: avoid big meals, large amounts of coffee or sugary drinks right before practice, a snack can be taken 30 minutes before the class; bring water or green tea with you.
Practice outside of the class: Set a regular practice time (mornings are great) and slowly increase the time. Try to practice with someone else if you are not motivated. During the summers groups of practitioners often meet at local parks and anybody can join. Always stay within your comfort limits in terms of time and pressure. There is no point of forcing yourself when you are tired or injured. Be gentle with your body and observe it carefully during practice. Do the movements slowly, carefully, continuously and smoothly. Try to coordinate with your breath but if you observe yourself hyperventilated, anxious or in any way uncomfortable, take a break. Be patient. You can see your instructor moving swiftly and smoothly but there are hours of work preceding it. Observe the moves and absorb what you can. Feel your own body changing and responding differently. Tai chi is not a sport but a way of life. Its accomplishments are not measured by the number of forms someone knows but by the self-realization of each practitioner.
Outline of class meetings:
- Opening and relaxing
- Warm up: walk around shaking your hands and legs, give yourself a massage
- Qigong breathing
- Foundation movements
- Cool down
- Meditation and closing
Schedule of topics for learning the 24 Tai Chi form:
- Opening movement. Stroking the bird’s tail movement (right and left)
- Single whip (right and left). One person stepping: practice stepping forward, backwards, to the right or to the left
- Waving hands like a cloud (right and left)
- High horse (right and left). Two-person stepping: one person follows another person in stepping practice.
- Heel kick (right and left). Punching ears with both fists.
- Lowering movement and golden rooster standing on one leg (right and left)
- Fair lady working at the shuttles. Performing one person stepping with eyes closed.
- Needle at the bottom sea. Fan.
- Turn to deflect downwards, parry and punch. Apparent closing up
- Cross hands. Closing movement. Practicing the entire form
- Performing the 24 form with eyes closed. Lowering the stances and applying pressure to techniques.
- Performing the 24 form with developing internal power, changing power and shifting attention, looking at the hands.
Topics for class discussion and meditation:
- Why do you want to practice tai chi? Are you curious what it is? What goals do you want to accomplish?
- Tai Chi cultivates the alignment of the spirit, the mind, and the body. Most of us have no doubt what the body is but the distinction between the spirit and the mind remains less obvious. It may be a valuable exercise to investigate what exactly these three elements are and how they interact with each other.
- What is the body? What is the mind? What is the spirit? How does the body express the mind? How does it express the spirit? What is the distinction between the mind and the spirit? How do they interact with each other?
- Alignments and agreements vs. misalignments and disagreements. Are there any disagreements between the spirit, the mind and the body within you? Can you give examples when and how the body is pushed to its boundaries? The mind pushed to its boundaries? The spirit pushed to its boundaries?
- Energy. What gives energy to the body? What gives energy to the mind? What gives energy to the spirit?
- Detox. What purifies the body? What purifies the mind? What purifies the spirit?
- Imagination vs. experience. Shall we imagine the flow of energy? Or simply observe it? What if we do not observe it? Good news is that the energy flows. Good news is that we observe it. But it appears to the mind as a meaningless flow of energy if we do not consciously pay attention to it and “make a story” about it. Make your own true and good story.
Would you like to take a Tai Chi class at LaGuardia? Please leave a comment.