One of the problems with teaching and learning Tai Chi Chuan is there are certain code words that on their face are fairly simple to understand but in reality can mean much more. And if you miss the point, you miss a lot.
For instance, the words relax, be patient and sink seem relatively obvious, but they mean much more, especially in learning something as complex as Tai Chi Chuan. Relax, in addition to meaning physically relaxed, means to have a relaxed mind so there is minimal resistance within you own mind and emotions when trying to learn. But is also means that certain parts of you body should be more relaxed than others at certain times.
People who are new to something like Tai Chi find it hard to be patient partly because they don’t recognize what that means. It means being strong enough to put up with learning something difficult, being tolerant of one’s own incompetency, being flexible enough to adapt to something new, and being willing to suspend a concept of time that requires immediate satisfaction and completion.
People can do this. In fact, they do it all the time. They just don’t realize that they have to do this in relation to something new like Tai Chi Chuan.
In addition, there are the whole range of epigrams in the Tai Chi Classics that can be interpreted in different ways.
Henry Look and Guang Yi Ren, both interviewed in this issue, deal in part with this problem by emphasizing strong foundations upon which people can build in order to have strong accomplishment. It is hard to achieve anything without a good foundation. Somehow, people still seem to miss this point.