Creative Learning and Tai Chi

Sometimes students want to learn Tai Chi through creativity, exploration and experimentation rather than through direct training of techniques.

There are some advantages to this method of study. I have personally learned to do things through my own experimentation. When you learn something this way, you really own it. You know how to do it well and it becomes yours in a way that knowledge that comes through direct training never quite achieves.

Unfortunately, there is a serious drawback to this method of learning:


Experimental learning can be very time consuming. It can take many months to figure out just one or two new things through experimentation. In contrast, you might learn 50 to 100 things through direct instruction in the same time it would take you to learn 1 or 2 through experimentation.

Because of this, I focus my training on learning from skilled Tai Chi practitioners. When it comes to Tai Chi there is a huge body of knowledge available from knowledgeable instructors.

Why reinvent a wheel that works very well already?

It is a lot smarter use of time to train in the art than to try to reinvent the art.

While there is something to be gained from doing some exploration, would you rather have a doctor who had tried to learn everything in his field through his own scientific observation, or would you prefer a doctor who draws on the huge body of scientific knowledge available and then gains more knowledge through experience & educated research.

There is a lot of room in Tai Chi for creativity and experimentation. However, this creativity should be based on solid Tai Chi knowledge rather than uneducated guesswork.


  1. My experience in creative learning was not one of choice. The intense desire to achieve a specific skill and the lack of access to a qualified teacher was the cause of my search by trial and error. Being lazy, I would much rather pay someone to show me how to do something instead of doing the research.

    My initial exposure to the art of Tai Chi Chuan was at the fingertips of Waysun Liao. Master Liao’s first school was very close to the house where I was born and raised.
    At that time one of Liao’s favorite demo’s was to place his 2 index fingers on your chest and give you a little jolt. He did just that and knocked me about three feet and into a wall in his school. To say I was impressed would be understating the fact.

    Due to various circumstances I did not start studying with Master Liao untill 4 or 5 years after my initial exposure but I never forgot my initiation to Tai Chi and wanted to possess the magic that his fingertip’s held.

    Life was hectic and consistent studies were not in the game plan. However I continually searched for method of his discharging of power.
    Now, after many years and many teachers, too many hours to count and lots of stress and strain I have accomplished about 95% of the one skill I desired.

    On youtube there are several demo’s of Zero Distance Striking. One is mislabeled as the guy holds his palm about 8 inches above the bottle he breaks. There is a decent example from a Wing Chun practitioner and there is a pretty good one from Al Colangelo. I mention these three examples as a reference only because my “No Distance” strike is totally different than the others. I am not claiming mine is better – just different. With the others mentioned external movement is noticeable.
    With the method I chose there is no external movement. The shoulders and inter costal muscles are not involved. What I believe I have developed is dropping in a truly internalized form. I can place a very loose fist on an individuals stomach or whatever body part they offer and send quite a shock through their body. I have not advanced to the point where I can do this with my fingertips. That may take me another 30 years unless someone responds to this and tells me how to do it.

    Anyway – the afforementioned was not to beat my own drum or slap myself on the back, it is simply to let the serious Internal Martial Art student know, if afforded the opportunity seek a qualified teacher and if he is capable and willing to show you pay him and save a lot of time and hard work. It is very rewarding to me to have finally reached this level but I could have and should have been here years ago.

    There are numerous “teachers” that either don’t know or are willing to share what they do know. There is one highly accomplished teacher who holds all the “secrets” but he can’t show them to just anyone. Tee Hee – Ha Ha – if this guy thinks anyone believes him he is even crazier than his actions show.

    Richard Clear has the goods and he will divulge the “secrets” – if you are serious about Tai Chi don’t waste time – life is short – spend the money for there are no free lunches.
    I did not and will not receive any compensation for this post and it is not written as an ad to promote sales for Mr Clear’s teachings. It is simply a perspective from a 30 something year practitoner of Tai Chi. I just turned 65 and had I been afforded the opportunity would have reached my goals sooner. You have that opportunity, take advantage of it

  2. In my previous post I forgot to mention – there is no change of body state when the energy is discharged. No tense and release – the discharge is strictly from the rebounding from the drop.

Speak Your Mind