How to Learn Tai Chi – Reaching Plateaus

by | Mar 11, 2011 | Qigong, Tai Chi | 10 comments

Very often as you learn tai chi chuan or qigong, you may feel as though you have reached a plateau. When this experience happens there often is a sense that practice is boring. The same stuff keeps on happening.

We all want to have tai chi practice breakthroughs moving to higher levels of sensitivity and awareness, but it is important to respect and even embrace the plateaus.

Tai Chi Integration

These plateaus in tai chi and qigong are actually necessary to your forward progress. You learn so much, you do so much. You’re inputting new information and it then needs time to fully input into your body. These times are essential for integrating your tai chi learning.

Additionally, as you input things into your body you are also inputting more information into your mind. But then like eating a meal, there has to be a point of digestion for what you have just eaten.

If the digestion of the food does not happen, you can’t really put any more food in. The way you make patte is that you keep stuffing food down a goose’s mouth until it explodes.

This is not a sustainable way to approach tai chi or any energy art.

Refining Tai Chi Movements

What occurs during these tai chi plateaus when you think things are boring is your body is absorbing everything it’s learned before. You are digesting the new tai chi movements and techniques. You are integrating them into your body and nervous system.

During a period of a practice plateau, it’s also very useful if you don’t try and put a lot more new material into your system. Just keep on working with what you already have learned. Focus on making what you have already learned better and better.

So everything that you have practiced, whether it’s moving chi or learning new body movements, practice to refine and hone it. This embeds the learning deeply into your system.

Tai Chi Breakthroughs

Now the experience is very often that you don’t feel like you’re making much of a refinement, but regardless of that, you should still keep on plugging at it. What happens at a certain point is that all of the sudden you break through the barrier. Everything that you were working on jumps to the next level.

This is how true tai chi mastery is developed. You reach a new plateau, stabilizing that level and then moving on to the next level.

This process is equally true for martial arts, dance, yoga and just about every movement form.

Rather than get frustrated, you can take a different approach and really go deep to refine and embody what you are working on. What you will find is that the more you do this, you’ll be able to learn tai chi or any movement form at a much higher level. Your form will improve dramatically.

Building an Internal Base Camp

It is quite mysterious and it’s quite unknown when exactly it’s going to happen when you practice an art form like tai chi.

So this is why very often you get periods where you feel as though for a month or two or three that you’re progressing forward quickly and then you go through a few months when you feel like you’re just covering the same ground and asking why isn’t anything new happening.

What you have to realize is you’re solidifying what you learned before in your tai chi practice. It is like you are building an internal base camp. Without that base, you can’t jump to the next level.

So I think this is an important point when you practice tai chi or qiong or any energy art.

I hope this will encourage you to stick with your practice during the plateaus, using them to make your tai chi form better.

I’d like to hear what you have to say about this and your experience – just leave a comment below.

Keep practicing,


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