View Full Version : How long to practice tai chi to gain benefits

10-05-2004, 07:16 AM
I have learnt tai chi for arthritis one and two, but I read that one should pratice for at least an hour a day, but arthritis programme does not take that long. Could you please comment.

10-05-2004, 07:32 AM
opinions on this differ widely but advocates of the short forms claim 7-10 min.
2 times per day is all that's required if practicing for health;and i concur;if you are planning to take up t'ai chi chuan as a self defence art then,of course,more time will be required

10-05-2004, 07:46 AM
p.s.(remember to include your warmups and standing qigong) this can strech the initial workout to 1/2 hr.
Performed twice daily=1hr.)
if you have only learned from a video get a hold of a competent teacher before you go one step further.
Despite my eternal respect for Dr. Lam i find this site continues to foster the dangerously misguided concept that t'ai chi can be learned in it's initial stages from a video; this cannot be done.period.The reason for this is that the mechanism of t'ai chi is set up in such a way that it can only be learned properly when handed down from teacher to student;
(sorry about the diatribe but this statement proves itself out)
to the other participants my apologies;i know,iknow,we've been around this block before

10-05-2004, 08:52 AM

VIdeo is an aid. I think people are smart enough to make informed decision with the diverse views that are presented so efforts are not 'misguided', as it were.

The greater view of physicla fitness (physiological parameters) per ACSM and AFAA (fitness organizations) is 30 minutes at minimum to 1 hour, with accumumalated weekly duration of 120?-140 minutes (yes the ubiquitions mean duration) . This appears sensible but the distinction is low to moderate intensity per the individual and their specific health status. These variables are numerous, as yu see. Are people capable of bieng sensible? This is another matter.

My take on the issue:
TCA practice 5-7 days per week for 30 minutes/day appears sensible.

'classical addition of TCA exercise prescription' My class schedule:

a, warmup 10- 15 min
b. Begin with hands at lower dantion for 1-3 minutes or so
c. TCA - 3-6 repetitions 10-15 minutes
d. COoldown - 3-5 minutes
e. shougong: hands at lower dantian for 2-4 minutes (reason-retunring qi to dantian

Taijiquan, per 'classical' concept is a life long yangshengong practice so the more 'reasonable' and timely, the better the practice and result. Of course, wisdom is increased since one is attuned to the universe!!! But on ehas to be infoprmed to reach that state. I am still arsking around!!!!!! just a lilltel humour.

30 minutes of low intensity, does not exacerbate sympathetic activity (out of breadth, strenuous, etc, sweating).
In this group, walking would be an additional tool for all round fitness.

10-06-2004, 11:20 AM
As with all exercise, little and often is best if you can, but even if you only have a few minutes each day, it is doing you good. Although I like a formal practice, it is not always possible and I just fit in the bits I want to improve as and when I can. It all adds up.

Don't beat yourself up because you don't train as long or as often as other people seem to. We all have our own needs and styles of training, and what you are doing is right for you as long as it is not hurting!

Dr. Paul Lam
10-06-2004, 01:49 PM
generally, if doing any gentle exercise is better than non. 5 minutes is better than no exercise, 10 minutes is better than 5. if the set of forms is not long enough, then repeat it as often as you wish. tai chi is about discovering new heighth from repetitions.

Most medical authorities advice half an hour daily for most days of exercise would be effectively to improve health significantly.

Shark: when you said "this statement proves itself out" thant one cannot learn tai chi from video - this cannot be right. to most of us proven means a well controlled scientific study. if you have one please quote it.

if you don't, you cannot say that because i have met so many people who have learnt tai chi from my instructional videos and gain much health benefits. How can you say you have proof while i have met so many of them? I have also seen many of these people performing good tai chi just learning from videos.

when you said:"the mechanism of t'ai chi is set up in such a way that it can only be learned properly" do you mean you understand totally the mechanism of tai chi? all styles and all forms? that your understanding is much deeper than many of my colleagues who have been using instructional videos successfully to aid tai chi beginners?

10-06-2004, 02:45 PM
Dr. Lam,i hope i haven't created any missunderstanding between us;this is an old topic,certainly one that you and i have bandied about before.
videos are an extremely effective aid to the overall learning process of t'ai chi chuan and in fact any martial art;i have used them myself extensively with very positive results.
Learning t'ai chi chuan or in fact any martial art,for that matter,has to do with the process of transmission from teacher to student;that's what it's really all about when you come right down to it.
Since many of the elements within this vital process are missing when attempting to learn from a video only,one does not require a study but only common sense to realize that your education will be lacking if you choose this path;particularly during the initial stages of learning where personal guidance is so crucial;as you yourself have said,"a video cannot replace a teacher"
while i'm certainly prone to exaggerate my position from time to time,my concern is with the tenure of statements made by some of the participants of this forum,not yourself,who tend to foster the idea that a teacher is not required,as long as a video or dvd is at hand;to me this kind of thinking is
counter-productive and in fact a dangerous influence upon the site's novice visitors;of course that's only a opinion

Dr. Paul Lam
10-06-2004, 03:25 PM

I understand you better now. yes every media and method has its good and bad points, there is something that is irreplacable about face to face teaching, on the other hand this is certain benefits of video that face to face cannot offer. we have discussed these before, let us stay with the position of agreeing to disagree.

for the benefit of readers: i have written an article "how to learn tai chi" and I said in the article:"Find a suitable teacher...If you're unable to find a suitable teacher, instructional videos might be the best alternative. .." you can read the article at:

10-06-2004, 06:53 PM
I was taught to do the form of your choice at least 3 times in succession. The first time is a memory test, the second time is a flow test and the third time is pure enjoyment. So.....
You don't have to stop when you get to the end of the form. Instead of doing the closing movement, do a single whip to the right and start over.
Another alternative to extend the practice is that after you do Lazy tying Coat, bring the right foot up even with the left, do an Open and Close of Hands and then do a Single Whip to the Right and start the form over. This time you will be faced 90 degrees off of where you started. My students find this very challenging


10-07-2004, 12:02 AM
Generally speaking all authorities in medicine and sports advice between 30-60min for most of the days, very often 30 plus daily activites like shopping. If you get too tired, i don't know your stamina, then do 5 min because longer would not benefit.

Tims suggestion is great but may be a bit difficult without an instructor. If you can do it please have a go, when not practice a few times. The challenge and benefit in Taiji is to practice continuously for a longer period without getting lost. Later if you wish you can modify your form or change the sequence

About video: i never said that video can replace a teacher. But there are areas where a good teacher cannot be found and the video is the only means. Also there must be a chemistry between teacher and student otherwise a video can be better. As i started with Paul's video it was weird because i was not used to video learning. Afterwards i learnt Sun 73, Chen 36 and 56 and 42 sword and 42 fist(won international prize) from the video with Master Andy Susanto and Jan Silverstorff correcting AFTER i learnt the form

By the way, the instructors, Kam Lau Fung especially, the person who assisted Paul and coproduced the video said he was against learning without coach. He said he found it difficult to transfer energy by a video. Also he said that probably i perceived my own energy and not from the video. He said that i probably felt my own energy which was already there and fostered by the movements and explanations shown on the video

Learning for health or own enjoyment is different but when you would like to teach or practice martial arts i cannot imagine learning from a video. I did learn from Paul's video but with a teacher AFTER i completed the set

10-07-2004, 08:07 AM
30 to 60 minutes a day is the ideal. Not everyone is able to do this in one go. Some days I am lucky if I get 10 minutes, so I use it as it is better tan nothing.

On the subject of videos and training, I recently advised a friend to look at the TCA videos on this site as she wants to learn Tai Chi and finds socialising and group activities difficult.

10-07-2004, 09:11 AM
To avoid misunderstanding i do advocate 30-60 min as suggested by the authorities. When a person is extremely ill and weak than he should START OFF with 5 min which also can work wonders for his special condition.

Myself practice up to 90-120 min or more for 7 days/week 2/3 times a day when possible. Sometimes it includes nordic walking where i incorporate my TC principles and foster qi flow through the skiing poles

10-07-2004, 10:18 AM
Soraya, it would be wonderfull to practice this long every day. How do you fit it in with work and family commitments?

For my part if I got up earlier to practice, it wouldn't be worth going to bed as I startr work at 7 am. In the evening everyone else wants to watch TV, and I am still trying to find a sutable outside space!

10-07-2004, 11:40 AM

I am sure there is at least some time where you can put aside "sacred space' for 30 minutes/day by and with yurself.
Example: Take the time that you watch TV in hours and practice taichi-a good time well spent and nobody has to buy you dinner.

10-07-2004, 02:00 PM
Caroline and Stanton

I practice in the morning before work. Try to find time in the middle of work or lunch break or in the evening. I work longer than 9-5, sometimes until 10pm or even later. My hubbie is very busy, my daughters don't live at home anymore and i am assisted by 2 cleaners. Divide my time in vigorous practice with flat shoes and proper clothing, the other forms like Sun style or partly Yang, qi gon which partly can be done in bare feet in a skirt, kicks compromised. My hubbie has beens studying TC in the Chen lineage where we met in a workshop

10-11-2004, 07:32 PM
caroline,10min.Twice daily if you're practicing for health is sufficient,don't beat yourself up if don't have more time;one of the characteristic attractions of the t'ai chi short forms is that practice time can be limited to this amount per day and you will still get benefit because they retain the essence of the long forms;that's what they're all about,otherwise it would serve no purpose to shorten them in the first place;it was said that during the day Yang Cheng Fu and other masters alike sometimes only practiced repetitions of certain postures,not even the entire forms!
Cheng Man-Ching is said to have practiced no more than 6 or 7 minutes in the morning and evening and devoted the rest of his time to teaching,painting and calligraphy.
There was the other end of the scale,of course,where masters of ancient times would hire coolies to cook and clean so that they could devote the major part of the day to their practice until their chi was so strong they could perform feats that appeared superhuman to us mere mortals;this is the 21st century however and practices like this are no longer common or practical