Continuing our introductory series about Tai Chi, today we are learning a move called Row the Boat. This move gets the blood pumping through your chest area and begins warming up the legs.
Here's a slow motion demonstration of the "Row the Boat" move:
To begin, make a fist with each hand, stacking the left fist over the right fist. Visualize holding onto an oar for a row boat. Step forward with the right leg, touching your heel and then your toe. The step should be soft and gentle. As you step, move your fists in a circular motion from near your head, then in front of you, and finally using a pulling motion to move the imaginary oar behind you. Try to keep your back straight and your head upright the entire time.
As you row back each time, shift your bodyweight to your back leg. As you reach the front part of the rowing motion, move your body weight to your front leg. Over time, practice making this forward/backward movement as smooth as possible. Both feet remain flat against the ground as your move your body forwards and backwards.
Begin inhaling when you hands are at the bottom of the circle. Begin exhaling when your hands are at their highest point, near your head. Your aim is to time one breath cycle to one movement cycle. As with a lot of moves in Tai Chi, we do eight repetitions per side.
When changing sides, slide your front leg back to next to your back leg. Switch the order of your fists so that now your right fist is on top of your left fist and then step forward with your left leg. Repeat the same rowing motion that you did on the other side. Keep your legs wide enough apart that you remain very stable the whole time.
Here's a video demonstration showing only the count so that you can practice rowing the boat:
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:
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.