Explained: The Space Requirements For Tai Chi

How much room does tai chi require? - CraftofCombat.com

Have you recently taken up Tai Chi or are you thinking about it and wondering if you’ll be able to practice easily in the space that you have at home? Well, you might be surprised at how little space you need to practice Tai Chi when it comes right down to it!

How much room do your need to practice Tai Chi? For most people, the idea room for practicing Tai Chi is around 8 meters x 3 meters. However, you can practice Tai Chi in smaller spaces too. If you are a bigger and/or taller person you might need a little more room to practice in.

Here’s what you need to know about the space requirements for practicing tai chi.


Things To Think About For Your Tai Chi Space

Tai Chi isn’t yoga and that means you can’t just throw a mat on the floor and practice on that. Yoga is a brilliant thing to do if you have a tiny space precisely because it is static. Tai Chi, on the other hand, is concerned with movement and you need space to flow between one form and the next.

Now [poiler alert] you can practice certain bits of Tai Chi in very limited spaces. Not every movement is huge and while you might not be able to execute every single form on a yoga mat – you could execute one or two. No, this won’t necessarily propel your Tai Chi to new heights as fast as a nice open space might, but it is better than nothing.

However, before you resort to buying a mat and placing it in the corner of your apartment, you might want to give some thought to the space itself. For example, you don’t need to own a space to practice in. You might rent that space or it might be outside – there’s often common land or a park within walking distance.

These minor considerations might make it much easier for you to create a bigger space and thus, to get more out of your Tai Chi practice sessions. Though, you will, of course, need to balance these potential gains with any drawbacks they may bring because being able to rent a practice space on the other side of town doesn’t mean it’s going to be practical to get there, does it?

So, let’s take a look at the things you should consider for your space and how you can maximize your Tai Chi practice.


Where Will The Space Be? Indoors Or Outdoors?

Most people learn Tai Chi in the outdoors. If you go to China, the birthplace of Tai Chi, this isn’t limited to parks and grassland. There are Tai Chi practice sessions outside of McDonald’s and Starbucks in the big cities – of course, there are factors you need to think about if you want to practice outdoors.

Is it going to be convenient? The Chinese may be happy for Tai Chi to take place anywhere, but the McDonald’s staff are likely to become irritable if you do Tai Chi in their car park in the Western world. You shouldn’t need a permit to use an outdoor space but you should think about where you can practice without inconveniencing or upsetting other people – let’s be fair about this, you just don’t want to make your Tai Chi stressful.

Some people will argue that the only way to practice Tai Chi is in a super-natural setting and although that might be too categorical, they’re right that it’s a great way to practice Tai Chi. Green is demonstrated to be psychologically soothing for human beings. Finding a corner of your local park or if there are woodlands nearby where you can practice could be brilliant.

However, before you rush off into the wilds, you should also think about the benefits of indoor environments for Tai Chi practice – in particular, you’re likely to face fewer distractions and that might be very important if you want to work on the meditative aspects of your practice. Sometimes, it’s easier to be quiet on the inside when it’s quiet around you.


Can You Find a Flat Surface To Practice On?

If at all possible, you opt for flat surfaces to practice Tai Chi on. There are all those lovely videos of Chinese Tai Chi masters frolicking around mountain tops while doing their daily practice, but that’s because those Chinese masters have had an awful lot of practice in those mountains.

For the rest of us, the objective is to try and find a stable centered posture and this is much easier when your feet are flat on the floor beneath you. This can often make an indoor spot seem like a more attractive option from your bedroom to the local gym.


Will You Practice In Public Or In Private?

Practicing in public by yourself is very different to the idea of taking a nice group class in the outdoors but there are some good reasons to think about practicing where other people are. In fact, many Tai Chi students have spent some time practicing their stances in stores or simple moves in public spaces without even thinking about it – sometimes, it just feels right.

One of the big benefits to your practice of doing this is that it helps you better learn to manage distraction and to keep your focus when the world is doing its thing, this is a skill that it’s much harder to learn from the comfort of your living room.

One of the big reported benefits of this kind of practice is that it can help you make friends! Yes, when people see you practicing Tai Chi instead of being mean, they’re often curious and want to strike up a conversation about what you’re doing and why – this is the ideal way to welcome others to Tai Chi and to develop interesting and fun relationships in the process! It’s a win-win for everyone.


How Much Space Do You Have?

Finally, we just need to get to the practical limitations of the Tai Chi practice space – how much room do you actually have? If you live in the middle of a big city, there may be no convenient park, your apartment might be small and cramped but it’s what you have.

If, on the other hand, you live out in the country – you might well be able to find almost unlimited amounts of outdoor space to practice in.

Sometimes, we just have to deal with the constraints laid upon us. If you find yourself with very limited space – talk to a teacher and ask them what you can do in that space. Don’t be embarrassed, they will be well placed to help you make the most of what you have.


The Ideal Space For Tai Chi

So, what would constitute the ideal Tai Chi Space and how big would that space be?

It’s going to differ slightly depending on the exact style of Tai Chi you study but this is our recommendation:

  • A Wu-style square form, which is a large form, requires 7 paces x 2 paces of space. You need an extra pace in each direction to make this “enough space”. So roughly 8 meters x 3 meters is good for most Tai Chi forms though if you intend to use weapon forms – you need more room..
  • It can be inside or outside depending on what you prefer.
  • It should be apart from other people so that you don’t hinder them or vice-versa.
  • It should be on the flat so that you don’t trip and hurt yourself.

Conclusion

How much room do your need to practice Tai Chi? 8 X 3 meters is enough for most forms of Tai Chi. If you don’t have that much space, don’t despair, talk to your teacher and they will help you make the best use of the space you do have.

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