There are several main styles of tai chi. How do you decide which one is for you? The most common styles of tai chi are Chen (the oldest and most martial), Yang (the best known around the world), Wu, Wu/Hao, and Sun (the newest -- very appropriate for Tai Chi for Health programs).
The first consideration is the availability of teachers and workshops. You can't learn tai chi in depth without a teacher. If you live in or near a large city, you may have several teachers to choose from. If you live in a small town or rural area, you will be lucky to find any teachers at all. If this is you, plan on traveling to workshops. Videos and books can supplement what your teacher says, but they cannot replace a teacher.
Take a little time to visit each potential teacher and observe a class. If you call ahead and the teacher will not allow a visit, it is the wrong teacher for you. Here are few other things to look for:
- Ask the teacher about his/her experience teaching people of your age and physical condition. Is the style of tai chi appropriate for you?
- Talk to the students. Observe the interactions between the teacher and students. Do they work well together in a way that matches your learning style?
- Ask about class schedules, costs, etc. Do you have the time and can you afford it? Remember that you are asking for time from a highly trained professional. It will not be free.
- Ask the teacher his/her opinion of other teachers in the area. The teacher is showing arrogance by saying negative things about others. Be careful about working with this teacher.
- Ask the teacher about any training in injury prevention. Some styles of tai chi have a significant potential for causing injury.
- What is the teacher's teaching style. Does the teacher understand how to teach to different learning styles? If it is only "follow me", you may have difficulty learning.
In the end, it's pretty simple. The best style of tai chi is the one that you enjoy and will practice every day.
What is your style? Leave a comment.
© 2012 Eric Borreson