Knowing T'ai Chi

A Note From Tim Bernath-Plaisted


In movement slow and fluid, or fast and explosive I explore the essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Sometimes my breath will be slow, imperceptibly slow, issuing out from a depth of which I can barely see the bottom. Other times the breath will move forcefully, filling, my body and penetrating the space around me, sounding like mountain wind flowing through the trees. There have been moments of total awareness, aware of everything and nothing at once. I have found crystal clarity within a speck of dust as it was held suspended in a shaft of sunlight cutting across the room. Other times I have only been aware of my breath as it moved through my nasal passages. T'ai Chi holds no bounds, no constraints. Yet its precision can be unmatched. I can allow the stress, the pain, the anger, and the fear of a day to flow through me. Releasing them and letting them dissipate into the universe, I will find harmony and peace without seeking it. This is T'ai Chi for me. There are many forms of T'ai Chi, with varied strings of the movements. We can find multiple expressions of each movement. Yet, when the fundamentals are the same, it is all T'ai Chi. One way cannot be more correct then another, any more than one leaf is more correct than another leaf. The structure of each form and each posture becomes indicative of both the subtle, and the perceptible applications that are attached to a particular form. The applications may be physical or ethereal, or both. It all hinges upon the needs and wishes of the practitioner. For this reason T'ai Chi must be practiced with intent. The individual must at some point begin to formulate for his or herself, what the intent will be. This is not to say that the intent must remain the same throughout a lifetime, or even that one cannot hold multiple intent with the art. When you practice T'ai Chi, understand what you are doing. Know this intent whether you are a martial artist, seeking spiritual harmony, improving your health, or all three. Practice diligently, learn the fundamentals, and never fear change. You will find what you are seeking.

"Be Still As A Mountain....

Move Like a Great River"