Understanding the Principles
Chen style Taijiquan is a powerful and effective Chinese internal martial art. Understanding of and competence in its fundamental principles are a prerequisite for anyone who wishes to achieve the greatest benefit from practice. Without a clear goal and understanding, a lifetime's practice may be futile. The foundation of Chen Taijiquan is built upon several centuries of accumulated wisdom and experience. Physical development needs to be accompanied by mental and character development. Knowledge and understanding of the requirements of Taijiquan can give insight into the depth and complexity of the art. Knowledge includes history, theory, philosophy and principles, as well as basic training requirements and methods. Although knowledge is no substitute for practical training, it can help one gain a clear idea of what is to be achieved and how technique must be manifested. Acquiring understanding is best achieved through practical training and direct experience. The important thing is to convert the breadth of knowledge into practical application.
All practice should be "according to the principles" (an zhe gui ju). The principles start with the basics and progress gradually to the highest levels. The key is to begin at the fundamental level and work step by step towards each level of skill. Taijiquan does not require that students begin with complex techniques. They must begin by understanding essential body requirements, performing basic body movements, and training to develop sufficient internal as well as external strength to execute these actions.