@thenonbinarywarrior and I recently attended our first Tai Chi class together. The basic structure of a Martial Arts training class was there (warm up, conditioning, learning one or more specific techniques, cool down) but I knew not to expect anything to be the same after that given this was a completely new Martial Arts style.
To warm up the teacher had us do some Qi Gong, which I had actually done a bit of this with another friend of mine before so this part was a bit easier for me. After that we did some conditioning exercises, some of which I will need to ask the teacher for alternatives for myself since some of them aggravated some of my injuries. We also learned the basic stance and some basic footwork to get us used to the Tai Chi style of shifting our weight.
I noticed some similarities to Aikido in terms of using your opponent’s attacking energy against them, but the philosophy behind this was different. In Aikido the goal is to take control of your opponent’s attacking energy and use it against them, while Tai Chi seems to be more focussed on understanding how your opponent is using their own force and then changing your technique to off balance them (for example, if you and your opponent are pushing against each other, then you should pull your opponent in the direction of the force they are exerting to knock them off balance).
I also noticed that the class was more relaxed in terms of hierarchy which was more familiar to me coming from Capoeira training, where we don’t have much of a hierarchy to speak of (at least the group with which I trained didn’t).
We both plan to keep going back to it.