Welcome to our introductory series about Tai Chi! The first move we are going to learn is called Knocking on Heaven's Gate. It gets the blood pumping throughout the shoulders and into the hands. We typically start a Tai Chi workout with this as one of the key warm-ups.
Here's a slow motion demonstration of Knocking on Heaven's Gate:
To begin, raise your left knee while simultaneously bending your right knee. All the weight is on the right leg at first. Then you step into a horse stance with your left leg. Your feet will be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your knees will be slightly bent, like you are riding a horse. Your weight will now be evenly centered between both feet.
Swing your arms laterally, in a horizontal circle. At the end of each arm swing, tighten your hands into fists and lightly strike your lower stomach and lower back. These are the front and back of your Dantien, which is where the Chi in the body is primarily produced. While swinging your arms, your hands open and relax.
Try to time your breathing to the movements as best you can. I typically breathe one full breath cycle per two movements for this one. Here is a video of Knocking on Heaven's Gate only showing the count of how many times we have completed the movement. In this case, we will be completing the move 20 times. In a live class, we might do this 50 times as a warmup.
After a while, you might not want the count on the screen, so here is a video of the movement without any instructions at all on screen:
In case you missed them, here are a couple of related articles that you might find useful in practicing this particular Tai Chi move:
We also released a handy video introduction to the key concepts in Tai Chi. Check it out here.
This is a great introduction to Tai Chi Qi Gong. Qigong is a type of movement meant to maximize your health. Tai Chi Chuan is one specific type of Qigong. These tai chi moves are a great way to get started in this martial art.