“The Way Is the Way” — Lao Tzu
As with most other spiritual mysteries, the underlying secrets beyond the reach of the casual Tai Chi student operate whether we are conscious of them or not. This is because they are based on principles that are not necessary to know in order to make them function.
Nevertheless, our practice of the art could be greatly enhanced if we suddenly became aware of these principles and put them into use on purpose. The sticking point seems to be that one must first be able to do the Tai Chi form in its entirety, and do it correctly, before the principles can kick in.
Tai Chi is hard enough to learn, let alone to master. Many beginners with good intentions fall by the wayside quickly. The form is usually long and demanding, whatever style you choose. This makes it difficult to memorize and requires a time commitment that many choose not to make. Depending on your schedule, previous experience with martial arts, and dedication, it usually takes months, even a year or more, to learn the complete Tai Chi form.
Most Tai Chi teachers, including Shihan Riddle, the founder of Do No Kai Martial Arts Temple, agree that to master Tai Chi takes a lifetime. According to Shihan, the study of Tai Chi should not even normally be started before the student reaches the age of fifty. Before then, the external martial arts are more appropriate for most. But also, by the time we reach the age of fifty, most of us are mature enough to know the value of patience, balance, and creeping slowly around on the grass.
The secret way of Tai Chi? Can’t tell you that part, it’s a secret.
By Cynthia Paul