Tai Chi 101: 20 Essential Tips for Beginners (Get a Head Start)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

man on the beach meditating Tai chi
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Are you ready to completely transform your fitness levels and mindset with Tai Chi? Getting started with any new sport or activity takes dedication and time. There are several tips and tricks to doing better Tai Chi that can be quite useful to know before you get involved in this ancient art.

Want to learn useful Tai Chi tips before you get started? I took a bit of time to piece together 20 tips for beginners that I feel would have been great to know before I got started. Check out my top must-know Tai Chi tips below:

These are 20 Tai Chi tips for beginners.

1. Learn more about what Tai Chi is all about.

Many people do not understand why Tai Chi is not a combative contact martial art. The story behind the creation of Tai Chi really does explain it, so spend some time researching Tai Chi and what its intended purposes are.

You probably are not aware that Tai Chi movements were developed after the creator watched a Crane and a Snake in combat. The Snake managed to effectively avoid the strikes of the bird, instead of striking back. And that, in essence, explains how Tai Chi movements were created.

2. Choose the right type of Tai Chi style for you.

Do you know that there are many different types of Tai Chi that you can practice? Some styles implement more moves and complexities than others. When shopping around for a class, inquire about the styles they teach, so that you can choose according to your preferences.

3. Observe a class or two before you get started.

A woman at the park watching taichi
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You might want to jump right in and participate in classes, and while this is a great way to learn the moves and get involved, it can be difficult to immediately pick up on the correct techniques. Before you participate, watch a few classes to familiarize yourself with the movements and how to do them correctly.

4. Attend classes with a busy mind and be fully prepared to meditate.

If being quiet and meditating is not for you, then Tai Chi is not going to suit you. You can attend a Tai Chi class after a busy day, get involved in the practice, and feel all of your stresses and worries melt away as you meditate your way through the various movements and poses.

5. Be patient while you learn.

Tai Chi is bound to feel foreign to you when you first begin. You are standing in different postures and following movements and motions you have never done before. On top of that, you are doing all of this very slowly and precisely. It can take some time to learn it all, and you really need to apply patience to the process.

6. Choose a Tai Chi master wisely.

Not all Tai Chi instructors or masters are genuinely interested in the art of Tai Chi. It is better to choose a real Tai Chi master instead of settling for a fitness center that is merely offering classes for the income. The only person who teaches Tai Chi in its most unadulterated form is someone who is dedicated to the art and truly passionate about it.

7. Set time aside daily to practice.

If you are not able to dedicate time to Tai Chi, you might miss out on its benefits. Tai Chi pros recommend spending at least 20 minutes a day practicing the moves.

8. Join a Tai Chi Community.

Seminario de Verano de Taichi Xin Yi
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While Tai Chi is not a team sport, it is thoroughly enjoyed as a group. In fact, just to watch a group of people moving in synergy can be quite therapeutic for onlookers. Joining a regular class will provide the opportunity to connect with other like-minded people. You will also find it quite helpful to watch others doing the movements correctly.

9. Dress the part.

Unlike regular exercise classes, Tai Chi is best done while wearing loose-fitting clothing. Your clothing must be comfortable and allow easy flowing motions. You will do a bit of stretching and bending in your Tai Chi classes, so make sure that your clothing allows for this.

10. Practice feeling the connection between you and the world around you.

The whole concept of Tai Chi is based on feeling a connectedness with the world around you. It is a good idea when you get started, to try to picture how your surroundings and the world, in general, connect to you. Take note of your everyday movements. This will help you to visualize better the moves that you learn in your classes.

11. Relax during classes.

Tai Chi movements cannot be done if you are stiff and tense. The trick is to really relax your arms, hands, and muscles during classes. This will allow you to achieve the movements more easily.

12. Breathe.

happy woman in green field taichi
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Tai Chi is extremely slow and requires deep, slow, steady breathing throughout each class. During your first few lessons, you will be taught deep breathing exercises. Practice these exercises and put them to work in your classes. You should center your breathing in your lower abdomen.

13. Pay complete attention throughout each class.

You cannot be distracted during a Tai Chi class as you will fall behind or do the moves incorrectly. When attending a class, it is essential to apply yourself and dedicate yourself to truly focusing and concentrating on the movements.

14. Avoid trying to learn through videos and online tutorials.

Tai Chi is a great exercise and, while there are some really helpful videos and tutorials online, (if you can) you should, definitely, attend to an actual Tai Chi class. Attending classes and being instructed by a Tai Chi master is quite an important part of incorporating Tai Chi in your life.

15. Opt for outdoor classes.

Tai Chi is a martial art that is designed to be enjoyed outdoors. Participants are supposed to be connecting with their surroundings. Most Tai Chi classes are held outdoors, but there are some that are hosted inside gym classes or buildings. While they can be just as beneficial, outdoor Tai Chi classes will probably be the most rewarding. You should at least try both out to see what the difference is.

16. Always stretch before you get started.

woman warming up before a taichi standing
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You will hear this in every single fitness class that you attend: stretching is vitally important. As Tai Chi is a full body workout, and it works all muscle groups, it can strain the muscles, especially during the first classes that you attend. Prepare your muscles for the gentle yet effective workout that is to follow.

17. Create a quiet space for practicing Tai Chi.

If you practice your newly acquired Tai Chi skills at home, make sure that you set the scene. Tai Chi is meant to be a meditative martial art, and unlike other exercise forms, it requires a peaceful and quiet environment. You can’t practice Tai Chi to fast or loud music, so be prepared to do a little quiet reflecting while you practice.

18. Practice Tai Chi barefoot or with thin-soled shoes.

Thin shoes will be comfortable for practicing Tai Chi, and because the basis of Tai Chi is for people to feel connected with the earth and their surroundings, it can help to be barefoot and have direct contact with the earth.

19. Familiarize yourself with the Tai Chi movement terms.

During your Tai Chi class, you may hear your instructor naming the movements. These names are often strange at first, but when you realize that they describe exactly what you are doing, you will recognize how apt they are. By learning the names of the movements, you will be able to be more mindful about how to do them in the future or when you practice outside of classes.

20. Pair up and practice.

If you are looking for something new or different to do with your partner or best friend, Tai Chi could be it. Pairing up is a great tip because it allows two people to help each other learn the moves and meditate together. People are more prone to continuing a sport or fitness class if they have someone they care about to share it with.

Last Word

Women practicing Taijiquan in beautifu nature
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Hopefully, the above Tai Chi tips will help to make sure that your future with Tai Chi is a long and rewarding one.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.