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The Beginning CLASS NOTES

Today we will work on walking, circling, swinging, breathing and the first two movements of the Yang style short form.

The Yang style is the most popular style of Tai Chi in Southern California. It may not be the best style to learn but you can find many teachers and students.

Baby Soft
A soft baby infant grabs the nose with focus. The baby learns to crawl and walk and explores this separation of weight until they no longer fall. The baby learns to bend into the knees and sustains the full weight of the body on each side. A combination of these skills allows the baby to open a gigantic door.

Tai Chi is learning to be soft again. To relax every muscle and use only those required for the task. A Tai Chi walk separates completely our weight and uses the whole body approach to movement.

walking
This style of walking is formally referred to as 5 star stepping.

In this first lesson we learned to walk in a box pattern. We use alternate stepping to go to the middle, top, across the top, back to the middle and back to the bottom and over to the starting place again.

These five steps begin a foundation of stepping useful in self-defense. Empty the weight from one side of the body, step with the other. Fill the weight to the new step so that the next step can be light and sure. Empty full means one hundred percent separation of weight.

Be careful not to over do these exercises. This is not the way people normally move so our tendons, muscles, vertebrae all have to learn this new pathway of movement. Be gentle to yourself -- be soft.

A good dancer has grace and agility often from this style of absorbing into the knees. They appear to move effortlessly with no bobbing up and down motion.

circling
Tai Chi often does this movement from side to side adding a hand motion which fills up like a balloon as you transfer your weight. The hand rises as the body transfers weight and turns and then the hand sinks (deflate the balloon).

As a variation let the hand let out the air before filling up the next hand and so complete the circle. Circling embodies all that there is in Tai Chi for good health.

Circling with 5 star stepping

Add this action to the 5 star stepping motion and repeat.

swinging
Swinging is similar to circling. Use the same movement from side to side with the feet. Let the hands be suspended as ropes. Only the turning of the waist should move the hands.

Suspend the hands in the air before reversing direction. Shake your hands out and shrug your shoulders to let go of any tension. Let your waist move your arms and shoulders.

End by wrapping the hands across the mid section which encourage a flow of energy through the body's meridians.

CAUTION: Swinging too far will stress out tendons and muscles not used to this movement. Total separation of weight will stress out tendons and muscles that are used to leaning into motion. Walking with this separation of movement uses back muscles verses thigh muscles to move the body forward. Be gentle because it may take a while to adjust.

breathing
Put the thumbs on the belly button and breathe into the hands. Inhale and exhale slowly.


FORM STUDY

The Opening
From a tripod position (hands to side and feet forming tripod), shift all of your weight on the (bending knee) right side of the body.

Place the left foot to the side, facing forward to the left (shoulder width apart from the right heel). Shift the weight to the left foot.

Pivot on the right heel so that the right foot is also facing forward. Now shift the weight back to the middle while turning the elbows outward. This leaves the palms naturally facing the front in the downward position.

The Beginning
This has been simplified from the original Yang Short form movement.

Rising with the body, the hands should fill with air like filling a balloon and fall back down again as the air escapes and you sink back into the knees. Rise and fall repeatedly.

The Beginning is differentiated with the wrists / elbows.

Rise with just the wrists to shoulder level. Let the fingers straighten and begin to bring the palms back by sinking the elbows. Then the palms should fall down slowly as you sink back to the original position.


REVIEW

complete separation of weight
Tai Chi Chuan is sometimes called one legged boxing. It moves from one leg to the other with a complete separation of weight. Often one side is called empty and the other side full. Learn the ability to completely empty or fill the body with each step.

5 star stepping
First, review the pattern of alternate stepping through 5 stars. Start at the lower corner of a box. Step to the middle, to the top, across the top, back to the middle, back to the bottom and back to the start of the box. Remember to complete the square.

Second, 5 star stepping may be done with the warm up exercises like a rising and sinking ward off.

other
side to side circling of palm side to side swinging form study - the opening and the beginning inhale rising on the beginning exhale falling on the beginning