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These principles are generally listed in their order of importance. If Relax is so important, why didn't we name ourselves the Relax Tai Chi Association? Because this principle is so universal that it isn't specific to Tai Chi. The next principle, Separate Yin and Yang is specific to Tai Chi. From this basic principle we derive how we step each and every time we move our feet in the Tai Chi form. Each time we take a step during Tai Chi practice, the foot is lifted from its current location and moved to the new location. The foot is initially placed with no weight being transferred. Then the weight is transferred and the move is completed. The placing of the foot with no weight is the Empty Step. We are not falling into each step or committed to a move by our weight or momentum leading the movement. Instead, we always remain balanced and centered with the movement emanating from our center in a controlled, deliberate manner. That is the Empty Step! It is fundamental to how we move, fundamental to understanding the uniqueness of Tai Chi as a movement art, and fundamental to the internal development that is possible through the practice of Tai Chi.
Seriously, you need to practice. As Ben Lo once told me, "More practice, more relax. No one can help you." That being said, "How can I help you?", by explaining some basic principles that will help your practice. My teacher Ben Lo focused on what he considered to be the Five Basic Principles of Tai Chi. They are:
Empty Step Tai Chi Association
Our Teaching Philosophy by Gary Wessels
You don't need philosophy, you need to practice!
There, you have our philosophy. Now go practice!
Relax
Separate Yin and Yang
Move the Waist
Keep the Body Upright
Keep Beautiful Ladies Hands
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