I am a beginner with Tai Chi QiGong. There are 20 Movements of forms. I have been taking classes for a little over 3 months and I have only learned 13 of them. For the past 3 classes there have only been a series of stretching exercises and the movements have not been covered.

I feel that there is too much exercising, of which I could go to the YMCA and work out, and not enough Tai Chi. Is this amount of exercising normal?

There were 3 new potential students in my last class and nothing was geared to my learning something new. I am disappointed, but am I expecting too much? I would appreciate your views as I do not want to be impolite to my instructor nor appear selfish.

  • What are you there to learn? Nov 19, 2012 at 0:37
  • I may not have had a complete picture of what it takes to perform Tai Chi...the Movements are beautiful, but did not realize how important the workouts leading up to it are. I will strive to work harder on my stretching and balancing...Thank you all for your imput it was much appreciated. Nov 24, 2012 at 15:24

4 Answers 4


Part of this really depends on where you are learning, how often the classes are, how big the class is, and the curriculum and structure of the class. Given that you haven't mentioned what style of tai chi you are learning, the movements/forms, and what your instructor or class format is like, I can only draw so many conclusions.

For instance, if your class is full of beginners and exercises or forms are conducted together in a communal learning environment, then I wouldn't expect to progress so quickly. Remember that you were once a beginner too. The instructor's time and attention has to be divided among all students. Some people, like very new beginners, may need more explanation to understand what they are doing.

The way you pose your question does in fact make you sound very selfish in wanting more, like you have this unearned sense of entitlement and expectation based on what has taken place so far. To demand more material from your instructor is very disrespectful and also very inconsiderate to others. People I've seen who think they are ready are always not because their understanding is so superficial. You can choose to approach your instructor is fine, but please be aware of your place in the class and you are not running it.

I would not be concerned about "losing out" just because you have not advanced in anything over the last three classes. I am not understanding why you seem so concerned regarding this. If you feel like that what you're doing in class is useless or isn't right for you, then you are always free to choose something else or go somewhere else. Try to open your mind and accept that doing something different and unexpected can be beneficial.

Just because you disagree with the teaching style or format of the class does not mean there is anything "wrong" with it. Regardless of what the curriculum is, sometimes the class will just have to be tailored to people there, what people are doing together as a group, the materials and forms people are learning, and so on. What goes on in a class is really up to that instructor, and that person should reserve the right to modify things as necessary.

I would not expect any tai chi student to really begin to fully grasp what he or she is doing after only three months. Even as an "advanced" student, I am still drilling and practicing fundamentals because they are so important; the are the basis of everything we do. Having a foundation is important, and you can really only get better from there. I wouldn't expect anyone so "young" in tai chi to make any huge advancements for a good while. All I can say is: practice, practice, practice.

  • 1
    Good Answer! And +1 in particular for "If you feel like that what you're doing in class is useless or isn't right for you, then you are always free to choose something else or go somewhere else."
    – BenCole
    Nov 19, 2012 at 14:28
  • Thank you for your answer...I think I really knew deep down that would be the answer...The style is QiGong and there are only 3 registered students. I like the stretching exercises because it makes me more flexible and have better balance, but, I like the Movements more..and feel that they are very peaceful and relaxing, which is why I enrolled in the class. I do think 3 weeks without reviewing the Movements is a long time not to check if they are being executed correctly or being practiced making mistakes. I would not speak to my instructor of this because I do feel it would be disrespectful Nov 19, 2012 at 14:37
  • (a continuation of the previous comment converted from an answer) ... that is why I found a forum to ask these questions. I really appreciate your taking the time and your imput. I will try to have more patience. The class is only once a week.
    – user15
    Nov 19, 2012 at 20:22

I used to teach tai chi before my family came along. The one thing nobody else has said is speak to your teacher. Tell them you enjoy the movement more than the stretching and ask why there's been less of the movement. Assume they did it for a reason. Problem is that until you have a certain number of people who can help keep beginners busy it's difficult to get a class going.
As others said tai chi is a massively complicated art (and I trained in a few before tai chi) and a lot of it is re-patterning how you move and how you stand. A lot of people lose out by trying to run before they can walk.
One of my favourite resources is this website http://ismag.iay.org.uk/related/interview.htm with some articles by Mike Sigman who does a lot of demystifying of the internal martial arts. And more of his stuff here http://mikesigman.blogspot.co.uk/

Also read the responses above. Good luck.

eta: Stabilizer muscles - try doing the movements you know at home but in smaller movements to practice then take a wider, deeper stance and do them more slowly. The first will reinforce your memory, the second build your stance.


Great answer Matt! Couldn't have said it better myself. I sometimes wonder what is hardest: being the instructor and hitting the right level for most students most of the time; or being a new student, unaware of the overall picture by the very nature of being a beginner in what is essentially a complex an subtle art.

Of course, there are good instructors and bad instructors and that only complicates the issue. As a beginner, one has to balance humility with a discernment of what fundamentally good. I think that 'good' often manifests itself in character. Is the instructor kind, confident, organised, a clear communicator etc. Of course, someone can be fantastic in their Taiji or Qigong but a poor teacher.

Keep it up Barbara. Persevere and I'm sure it will pay big dividends in your life.


After more than a year of Tai Chi, (and ten+years of other martial arts), I find that I still have to build stronger stabilizer muscles in order to progress in Tai Chi. It is possible that the workouts have more relevance than is immediately apparent.

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