Learning to Look After Yourself
Shefford Tai Chi Syllabus

Tai Chi Chuan – the Aim
A relaxed and connected body moving from the centre

The learning process
Moving from a Locked structure in the adult/mature person to:
Using Wuji empty loose and unstructured posture
Building simple natural structure to:
Tai Chi – hard/soft fluid Wu Wei – doing without doing

Learning to exist in the lightly structured Tai Chi state of differentiated but ever changing hard/soft potentiality which can instantaneously take up a balanced, fluid structure which accommodates and responds easily to outside forces.

All stages can overlap and sometimes run concurrently as students progress differently and experience exercises differently at different stages of their practice. This also reflects the varying interests of individual students – in a similar way students are encouraged to practice between classes – from a few minutes each day for beginners to an hour or so for seniors – and especially to consider and use what they learn from Tai Chi in their daily “real world” lives.

Students are encouraged to attend seminars and to train with other teachers ( especially those in the Chen family lineage ) in order to expand their horizons and their experience of Tai Chi generally.

Tai Chi beginners program
Body awareness
Calm mind, calm body – meditation
Loosen the body – to develop a Sung state of being 50% relaxed
Co-ordinate the body about centre line for co-ordination and balance
Connect the body about the centre

Working with mature people we find random chaotic movement ( chi energy ) constrained by poor habits and clinical issues.

We seek to breakdown and release the natural movement ( chi energy ) from these artificial boundaries so creating the Wuji empty body.

Then to establish a simple natural structure and movement – a Tai Chi body in simple stages:-
– Soft and hard
– Movement from the centre ( whole body connection )

We do this by :-
– Establishing good relaxed vertical posture.
– Movement around a vertical axis
– Initiating passive movement from the centre, e.g. by swinging, shaking, bouncing
– Exploring Natural movement
– Movement around the centre in 3 axes
– Creating whole body connection and balance
– Creating soft movement in the hips, spine and shoulders
– Allowing this softness to extend to the extremities – legs, arms and neck.
– We use exercises, eg silk reeling, and simple forms, meditation and visualisation.
– Use of Chi Kung

Tai Chi improvers program
– We extend the beginners program into a wider range of movement both larger and smaller as well as more complex.
– Develop meditation and visualisation for mind/body connection and to understand intention.
– Initiate elastic movements from the centre, e.g. Silk Reeling
– Add a sophisticated form and learn how to direct the movement
– Balancing the body in movement.
– Use of spiralling

Tai Chi senior program
– Build on and extend previous work
– Added sophistication in exercises and forms
– Developing feeling and use of the centre
– Partner work – balancing the body with external forces
– Use of intention
– Co-operative partner work
– Moving and changing from hard to soft and soft to hard
– Non co-operative partner work
– Martial applications