Without guiding principles in the study and practice of Tai Chi, there is no structure or discipline to its movements. This is what is happening to the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi Square Yard Form, there are individuals professing to be qualified teachers giving instruction to interested students and yet they are not laying down any guiding principles to those interested students, about how the Li Style Tai Chi should be structured and disciplined within its actions. I have personally asked both teachers and students of the Li Style Tai Chi what guiding principles have been taught and passed onto them by their teachers, so as to give better structure and understanding on how they should practice and teach the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi Square Yard Form.
Without any guiding principles on how the student should perform the Li Style Tai Chi, allows everyone, both teacher’s and students who practice this particular Tai Chi Style to interpret the movements to their own ideas. I recently came across a student who learnt his Li Style Tai Chi from another teacher, this individual was also taught some the Li Style Dao Yoga (K’ai Men) Exercise from the same teacher. When I watched this individual demonstrate his Tai Chi Form, I noticed a few things that were not within the guiding principles of practicing Tai Chi. For example, this person was over twisting his torso which was bringing more tension into his back muscles. When I pointed this out to him, he said mentioned that was the way he was taught. Sadly his Dao Yoga was corrupting his Tai Chi, both of these systems are individual in their own right and each have their own structure and discipline and everyone should take care as to not mix the two practices together.
In the practice of Tai Chi the back muscles must remain soft and relaxed, there is no twisting of the waist only turning of the waist which more gentle. Structure and discipline within the practice of the Li Style (Lishi) Tai Chi allows every individual to gradually improve the quality of the Tai Chi form because they follow guiding principles that have been passed onto them by more experienced practitioners of the Li Style Tai Chi. Rather than being allowed to freely interpret the movements to what think their Tai Chi should look like.
Another example, there are still some teacher’s who advocate the usage of “Double Weighted” (Shuang Zhong) Stances in the practice of the Li Style Tai Chi Square Yard Form. But the guiding principles say that there should be an understanding of Substantial (Xu) and insubstantial (Shi) within the legs. As Double Weighted Stances means that the over-al movement of the lower bodies extremities stops, pauses, which means that the upper body is moving in isolation, compared to the lower body which has stopped, whereas the whole body should be moving to promote better blood, lump and Qi circulation throughout the whole body. As the guiding principles of Tai Chi “That if one part of the body stops moving, then the whole body should stop moving. Whereas, if one part moves the whole body moves”.