I would say that most people who have heard of tai chi have no accurate idea of what it is, so they’re reticent to try it without knowing more. But no one knows what tai chi is without doing it. You cannot know it second hand. You must experience it first hand. If you’re not already doing tai chi and you’re curious, get the real story yourself … if only to make sure you’re not turning down something you may find rewarding.
I think a lot of people don’t do tai chi because they feel it would be a full-time job to learn. They’re right; it is a full-time job, at least for those who choose to make it one. But it doesn’t have to be so involved for everyone. You can do tai chi at whatever regularity that feels good. Whether you do more or less, the effects are cumulative. The more you do, the better off you are; especially if you focus fully on learning during the time you devote to practice.
What is not an option to not to do tai chi at all.
What everyone should seriously consider is to put in enough practice time when you first begin to get enough basics so you will have something to work with at home or in the park, or wherever you are inspired to practice. This spring I am offering a multi-week, seasonal session in which learners get a block of exercises that can be learned, remembered and practiced on their own or in a group.
While many people have made a lifelong pursuit of tai chi, they are still employing the same universal, fundamental concepts and principles in their movements as every other learner (check Dragon Journal archives for several posts on fundamental concepts and practices). While regular, consistent practice naturally produces the best benefits, once you have a working understanding of the fundamentals, and as long as you apply them, it’s possible to benefit. Of course, being motivated to get up and practice is another challenge that many fail to overcome. You still have to move beyond your usual comfort zone, at least in the beginning.