The three ways of practice
Once you have acquired the rudiments of a skill it is possible to practice in ways that allow you to 'maintain,' 'improve' or 'master' that skill. Practice for maintenance allows preservation of your already acquired taijiquan skills and provides minor health benefits. Practice for improvement helps you with skill performance consistency and opens the potential for a deeper mind-body experience of the art. Practice for mastery allows you to move beyond the constraints of form and to personalize and internalize the art at higher levels.
The ability to focus yourself in your personal practice is ultimately what leads to excellence and mastery. Practice rituals that
set the tone for your work are personal and take time to develop. Preparing the practice space by sweeping the floor, tidying up litter, or changing clothes; routines for preparing tea, applying liniment, or showing respect to masters; turning off distractions, standing in silence, or developing a suitable playlist of practice music—these can all make a positive difference
to one's progress over time.
Practice Log: Keeping track
Keeping a practice log or journal can help you see over time the strengths and weaknesses of your practice approach.
Whether this is a simple entry of your main practice activities entered into a notebook under date headings or involves more complex note taking, the act of recording your practice sessions can have the effect of crystallizing the work in your consciousness.
Value your training partners
A partner who you can practice with, who has a similar desire to improve, knows the same material, and who will show up, is a rare gift that should not be treated lightly. It does not matter if you are in complete agreement on everything. Good training partners allow and help one another to explore, experiment, and improve. Getting caught up in petty conflicts or personality differences should be avoided. Issues should be managed with compromise, tolerance, and patience. Maintaining a sense of humour is important in these relationships. It is not necessary for you to be close friends with your training partners—there are practice buddies who have trained together for decades that have never socialized with one another outside of taiji.