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taiji..... part 1 - how to learn
(part 2 will be answering your question why I do it & why it's good for you)|
#1 - No, a dvd or book is not good enough to learn from. Ok, well, you can start with that if you want, but at some time soon you should find someone who knows it well to watch you and correct you, and at least see a teacher regularly. A dvd can remind you of the moves between meetings with a teacher, and a book can give you extra info that the tacher might not have time to teach you if you're not seeing him/her very often.
#2 - Why do you *need* a teacher? Because there are a lot of details that books & dvd's don't get into. You can learn the moves from a dvd or book, which IS the first step, but a real live person can watch you and correct you and tell you the things you're not doing right (even if you *think* you're doing them). In any one given move I could tell you several details about your feet alone, then your legs, hips, spine, shoulders, arms, hands, eyes, breathing, intention.... too much for a dvd or book to cover. Mind you, all those things will not happen at once, that's why I said go ahead & start with a dvd to get the basics.
#3 - Keep in mind that there are many versions of taiji. There are 5 styles - Chen is the original and quite martial-artsy, with fast movements, punches, etc. Yang came along next, and today it's the most popular one you'll see or imagine when you think of taiji (in China & the US anyway). It's slow & graceful and usually thought of as an old people's exercise (yeah, right!). The other 3 are very rare. You can find dvd's if you look, but finding a teacher for them would be extrememly difficult. Within Yang (which is what I do) there are many forms, and the forms can be done in different ways. I'm emphasizing all this because if you're going to learn from different sources, you will see some contradiction. You will want to stick to one way of doing it for a while until you learn a form really well (at least a year, probably more). So you'll want your books & dvd's & teacher to all be doing something similar.
#4 - If you do look for a teacher: I don't know how it works in other countries, but in the US it goes like this. You look for a class somewhere (I can give you ideas of where if you really need them), or maybe through word-of-mouth. You call and ask to watch a class, or try one. Every teacher will let you watch a class for free, and possibly try to follow along if you want. There are no belts or ranks or certifications. Use your judgement as to how you like the class & the teacher. Ask yourself why you want to learn it (though that answer may change over time) - martial arts? health? relaxation? What does the class do? Watch several classes.
to be continued.......