STALKING YANG LU-CHAN
Finding Your Tai Chi Body

PREFACE
     
      There are many books on Tai Chi Chuan, or at least Tai Chi, to be read, scanned, sampled, or placed back on the shelf. Most are interesting, in line with the Chinese suggestion that one may live in interesting times. Few address Tai Chi Chuan simply as a human generality, as Common Sense, which is what beginners and long-term students alike need to progress. They need practical guides. Scholars may prefer literature from high places. Poetry and calligraphy, though admirable and complex art forms, may not be the best mediums for everyday feet-on-the-ground learners And the old practice of secrecy in martial arts is just not tenable these days. Anyway, Tai Chi practice is in general very good for humans. It is also a dangerous art, as is archery, while being a peerless system of health-care. And Tai Chi Chuan is an absorbing sport and a richly intricate game.
     
      Common ground for Tai Chi Chuanís uses is usually a solo form. This comprises relaxed flowing postures in a dance-like serial. Most practicers are learning or enacting a solo form, and most instruction is directed to this end. And by far the most common applications of Tai Chi form are general health and low-impact sport among two or more people. External practice is the best testing ground for Tai Chi skills. There are many competitions world-wide. Few of these can address Tai Chi Chuanís efficacy as a martial art in unstructured engagement. There are, however, many champions in specialized sporting forms, such as push-hands. More puzzling is competition in solo form, rather like a golf game without a ball.
     
      Meanwhile, there seems to be a concern that standards are declining. With a huge and growing student body, the prospects are seated on a shaky foundation. Teachers will always appear to lead the throng, wherever itís headed. But no matter the standard, most of the work will be done solo. Well, isnít this where most is to be learned? From others maybe, but through you. Perhaps a decline makes less headway in a student remaining a student, than in one being led. What, after all, would the first Tai Chi student have done, in the absence of a teacher?
     
      The methods proposed here address the principle underlying this question. Principles and secrets obscured by the smoke screen of classical literature are approached through own-body scrutiny. These methods aim also to enhance body-centered study of any form of extrinsic learning. And they have succeeded in effecting multiplied ability rather than fractional improvement. Self-learning and self-teaching can provide keys to doors revealing your body, your senses, your understanding; and, of course, your ignorance.
     
      Propositions can be true or false. Your own body is the testing ground for these methods. Later, they may be applied and tested in partner-practice, eventually to any level of game. Once you have learned from yourself what these methods mean, they will have fulfilled their purpose, become redundant. Useful methods do take effort, as do useless ones, but the effort of hours or even minutes can yield dividends throughout your Tai Chi practice. In any event there is no bull in Tai Chi Chuan, your ability is soundly grounded in what you have done to acquire it.