Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Do the Up and Down Stroke for Tai Chi

Tai Chi that we know today is actually a short form for the phrase Tai Chi Chuan. It is a very old form of Chinese martial art whose founder is unknown. Because of its age multiple schools of Tai Chi have inherited separate styles of the same martial art. It is what is called an internal martial art in that its movements are fluid and circular, seeming to flow rather than move. This is opposite to external martial arts which use direct and abrupt movements. Most people know Tai Chi as the slow movements people perform in parks and yards. These are actually the training forms of Tai Chi Chaun; the fighting style meant to be used in actual combat is much faster, though it is comprised of the training form moves. It is so prevalent because many people believe that practicing the training forms is effective in promoting good health and longevity. It's also effective as a form of mental focus or meditation. This guide will explain how to begin performing Tai Chi Chuan by learning basic stance and movement, specifically raising and lowering oneself.

Things You’ll Need:
Practice Space
Sparring Partner or Opponent

Performing The Up and Down Stroke
Step 1:
Stand with legs at roughly shoulder width and rock back and forth. The majority of Tai Chi is finding and keeping one's balance at all times. To learn to stay balanced, keep rocking back and forth so you will eventually become accustomed and maintain your balance no matter what may happen.

Step 2:
Before you begin to move your upper body, remember that all hands and arm movements are led by the hands. What that means is that when you move your arm, begin the movement with the hand and then use each joint of the arm in turn. It should look like your hands are pulling your arms along with them. Using this method raise your arms up to shoulder height and point them straight forward. Even though your arms are all the way out, never lock your joints in Tai Chi; always keep them at least slightly bent. Also your hands should be open and roughly palm downward throughout this entire exercise.

Step 3:
Draw your hands back to rest a few inches in front of your face. Your elbows should be bent below them and just a little shy of parallel with the ground.

Step 4:
From this position draw the hands straight down slowly to rest at the waist.

Step 5:
Repeat this exercise as many times as you wish by raising the arms back to shoulder height again.

Tips & Warnings
To make sure you have the movements right, perform these techniques slowly. This particular exercise is meant to be performed slowly and you should not increase the pace, but instead pay attention to the individual movements of your arms until they appear to be working fluidly. Practicing in front of a mirror can help you perfect your form.
Keep in mind that many forms of Tai Chi exist and may use the same names for different moves. There are likely other moves called Cloud Hands that differ from this one.

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