Group or Solo

The Taoist Arts and more specifically Tai Chi and Lok Hup may be practiced within a group setting or solo. Each practice has benefits and detriments. Often people connect with a group more readily than finding the connections going solo.
In a group you can:

  • let go of need to know next move,
  • learn different perspectives as people share their experiences,
  • be carried by the dynamic of the group into experiences difficult when solo,
  • Receive external feedback from an instructor or compare yourself to others.

By one’s self you can:

  • Let go of any performance anxiety
  • listen to your own experience without getting drowned by other perspectives,
  • learn to follow our own intention using our awareness,
  • find the flow of your own energy without reference to others.

Having talked to multiple people who have returned to a group practice after a long time on their own, the experiences vary from mind-blowing to not much different. Everyone connects in different ways and has different levels of awareness. One thing I find is an increased level of trust in the form itself. Often people experience something more within a group. There’s additional energy to align with and follow in a group setting. Without many years of practice, going alone can lead to going astray and fabricating movements not grounded in the fundamentals of stepping, sitting and keeping things simple. It’s easy to let ones sensations exaggerate little things in the movements. This expression is what One advanced instructs called getting “flowery,” and can lead to distortion. There’s another side of practicing solo. It can feel luxurious to immerse one’s self in the group. It’s comfortable to forget the need to remember what move is coming next. In the height of life where our responsibilities peak, simply having time to practice can feel like a luxury.

The comfort and flow may be found solo after years of practice when the body remembers without conscious deliberation. There’s a sense of letting the energy flow without thought and conscious direction. The form becomes a moving meditation. This aligning with the energies within is just as mind-bending as returning to the fold of the group dynamic. The more we practice in this way allows to understand the difference between our own energies and those external to us. This is immensely beneficial and amplifies what we can learn in group practice.

To be clear, I am of the mind both group and solo practice have their place and are beneficial. The thing is we have to align with the forces in our lives and practice in an appropriate way for where we are on or own path. No matter where we are it is imperative to have fun with it and keep things simple.

Trust the Form

Master Moy used to say, “Trust the form.”  The form is more than the movements, it is a tool we can use to learn without being told what to learn (reference the page: The Form). Trust is composed of character and competence.  Our character is made up of our integrity and our intent whereas competence is comprised of our capability and results.  Thus to trust the form is to apply our care and openness to honestly practice day after while being truthful in our observations of our posture and movements.  It is continually expanding our knowledge, skills and experience while establishing our credibility through not only maintaining but achieving increased levels of health.

Trusting the form does not require external guidance.  Rather it requires humility in the recognition of what our capabilities truly are.  It requires us to keep our practice simple and aligned with the basic principles of the forms.  And, it requires compassion for ourselves so we may find the connections within our own movements.  Certainly, feedback from an any instructor can help us along our path, but it is ultimately up to us to find our own direction, internal feedback and align that with the principle of continuous improvement based on factual decisions regarding our physiology and physics.