Tai Chi Chuan
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Body Mechanics and Positioning

Body Mechanics and Positioning  |  Breathing | Stances  |  Standing 


  The bulk of the information seems to indicate that beginners should breath normally while doing the form. The complexity and details involved in learning the forms requires enough attention without adding breathing patterns or methods. Later when the form has been learned and other details perfected (posture, relaxing...) then breathing techniques should be added.

  A few beginners tips.

  • Never hold your breath

  • Breath in and out through your nose

  • Keep your mouth relaxed

  • Keep the tip of the tongue against the roof of your mouth,
    just behind the teeth


Beginners tips:

  • The knee should never extend past the toes

  • Move/rotate the foot to avoid twisting the knee

  • Sink into the stance to a level you can maintain throughout the form

  • Keep the head at the same level. Avoid up and down motions of the body while moving between stances/postures.

  • Keep the legs relaxed

  • Touch the heel to the floor before the toe

  • Make sure the stance is open enough to be stable

Standing or Zhan Zhuang

  Many masters have stated that standing is the "secret" to advancing your Tai Chi Chuan. Traditional training involved learning each posture separately and holding it for periods of time before advancing to the next. After all postures were learned and perfected, they were combined in the form.

There are a variety of postures used. In fact, any posture from the form can be used for standing and has different benefits for each posture. These standing positions are used for a variety of reasons. To reduce stress, to benefit health, as well as for rooting, strengthening the chi and developing body sensitivity.

  Basic posture. It is with the feet parallel about shoulder width apart. Head is up with a line between the top of the head (Bai hui), perineum (hui yin), and bubbling well points (yung ch’uan). The back is straight, hips tucked under so the tan t’ien is in line with the ming men. Hold your arms in a gentle circle as if embracing a tree or pillar at shoulder level or a higher. Eyes are usually closed and focus the attention to the tan t'ien and sink your energy down into the floor. Stay relaxed, especially the shoulders. We do this posture for approximately five minutes, in  preparation for training, at the beginning of class.

  Don't hold the posture initially for long periods of time. Build up slowly to longer periods of standing. Perhaps do several postures, holding each for about 5 minutes and work towards longer periods of time as your body acclimates. Most people, standing still for only one minute will begin to experience difficulty, such as physical discomfort, mental doubts and shortness of breathe. When confronted with these situations, a practitioner should begin to develop different forms of concentration to reduce the pain and focus the mind. One common method of focusing and eliminating difficulties is to imagine standing in a quiet, relaxed place.

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Revised: March 02, 2015