Thursday, January 7, 2010
Tai Chi Chuan Without An Instructor?
I found a lost e-mail from a good friend today. I felt terrible that I had not replied yet, and as I wrote the letter back I thought this might be useful to other people:
I am interested in learning some tai chi, but do not have access to a teacher and don't know enough to pick a DVD that won't suck or teach me the completely wrong things.
-- My friend then showed a link to some DVD's on Amazon, which didn't look that great. Here's what I wrote back:
I just found this while cleaning up my e-mails. Sorry if I didn't get back sooner, but the holidays were crazy.
Like Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan is so subtle it really takes a teacher. However, here are my suggestions:
1- There is new-age phoney Tai Chi and real Tai Chi. Your main choices are Yang style, which is the most popular style in the world, or Chen style (and possibly Wu).
I practice Yang style, so I will speak to that.
My instructor, Michael Gilman has a free website with lots of info. His site is http://gilmanstudio.com/
2- Anything by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming is authentic, and he is recognized as the best fighting Tai Chi Chuan in America.
Yang's site has short video clips available. Here is the YouTube page for YMAA http://www.youtube.com/user/Dvivid
3- If you like, another Tai Chi Chuan master, T.Y. Pang lives near me. His form is the exact form I practice, even though Michael is my instructor. I learned from Pang's top students originally. Pang has a very, very good instructional video with explanation, different views and is available for around $45.
Pang does not teach application, which is why I have sought out other instructors to compliment my form work with applications.
Here is Pang's website, which is still under construction at this time. http://www.typang.com/index.html
If you are interested, I can pick up a copy and mail it to you.
There must be some community center or YMCA somewhere in your area that offers a class. If not, there's a job opportunity for me down there.
Whatever you find will probably be geared towards relaxation, meditation etc, rather than fighting Tai Chi Chuan. Consider it an intro to Tai Chi if you can find it, but the resources above will give you a look at where the art can go.
Hope this helps, and I'm sorry I lost the e-mail until now.