H. WON TAI CHI INSTITUTE
FAQ & Tips
Tai Chi Chuan & Breathing: For many beginners, wanting to coordinate Tai Chi Chuan & the breathing techiques have been a source of ambiguity, confusion, & misconception.
Solution: For many inexperienced students, they are being terribly mislead by many dubious masters with distorted concepts of the breathing in Tai Chi Chuan. Often taken by the exotic elements of Tai Chi Chuan & the promises, many of the inexperienced have jumped at the chance to learn the ill-advised internal breathing exercises.
In Yang family Tai Chi Chuan, the beginners are not taught to breath in any specific way, other than his/her normal way. The reason for this is that they first need to learn the long form properly while trying to relax the body. In the beginning, everyone is tense, & this tension of the body is inevitable because all of us are learning to move entirely different way. Along with this difficulty, when a specific breathing method is introduced with the long form, the body becomes unnecessarily more tense. Because many beginners have short breathing cycles, they cannot coordinate the breathing with the slow, long movements; therefore, when forced to coordinate the breathing & the movements, tension becomes much worse than usual--defeating the very purpose of learning to relax the body.
Many questionable tai chi instructors are eagerly introducing Chi Gong to the beginners as if it can speed up the process of feeling chi, generating power, or whatever. Contrary to common belief, this haste can do more damage to the body than good. As I mentioned elsewhere, the body has to strong before he/she tries to move energy with breathing & the mind. Hoewever, gross misunderstanding of the internal exercises & its subsequent advise to practice have actually caused ill effects on many people. Personally, I know some people who have learned from these "famous masters" & only to be ended up with some serious side-effects. Furthermore, many of these dubious teachers do not know how to correct the problems. Being experts of their arts, one would think that they know what to do in case of problems, but many do not; otherwise, any conscientious master would not have recommended to practice these questionable Chi Gong in the first place. Ironically, the remedy to the problem is often an encouragement to do more of the very exercises that caused the problems.
In Yang family Tai Chi Chuan, that is why the beginners are first taught the long form without specific breathing methods. The body needs to strong before any internal exercises can be introduced. Also, the long form is devised in a such way that the body can cultivate internal energy & nurture internal power even without specific breathing methods. Of course, this doesn't mean that there aren't any breathing methods & internal exercises in Yang family Tai Chi Chuan. In fact, there are plenty, but they aren't meant for the beginners.
So, for the time being, forget about trying to coordinate breathing with the
form. Forget about how someone taught you to reverse breath-in while executing
opening postures & so on. Forget about the tai chi videotapes & chi gong books;
they are often produced & written by people who don't know what they are doing...if
one only knew their backgrounds & the sources of info. Therefore, to learn properly,
learn one thing at a time from a knowledgeable teacher. Learn to relax the body
while remembering how the form is done. This alone has tremendous effect on
the body. Then, firther strengthen the body with Dynamic pushing hands. Once
the students have some understanding of the internal principles of Tai Chi Chuan
& its internal power, then breathing techniques & the advanced exercises are