Archive for the ‘Tai Chi Instruction’ Category

The First Fa Jin In The Long Form

Monday, October 18th, 2010

The first fa jin in the 99-step Chen Pan Ling form we do often causes students some problems. The logical thing to do would be to copy the movement, but that’s not really how you can get this posture, or for that fact, any posture right. Technically perfect movement is still not Taiji. One student we had a few years ago was a professional dancer and it took her three weeks to learn the form. What she didn’t get was the understanding of the flavour of the movement. This flavour, this feeling is what makes Taiji what it is rather than a sequence of movements. Flavour is in the feeling. The English language is well equipped to describe each sense in isolation, we have many adjectives for describing sight, sound and touch, but the feeling of movement is a combination of these senses for which English, or for that fact any other language has no vocabulary to describe.

So, how do you learn something you can’t describe? Through experience.

The process of learning Taiji is largely experiential. It isn’t till you have experience the flavour that you can really know or understand it. Some teaching methods just got the student to repeat the postures again and again until an awareness of the flavour develops, but we don’t believe that is an efficient way to learn. What we prefer to do is to present different metaphors, give new perspectives to the student that they can try with the movement until they catch a glimpse of the flavour they’re aiming to capture. That glimpse is all that’s really necessary, as the student can then develop that glimpse until it is a part of the form they practise every day.

Taiji, Fajin and Not All Niceness and Cultivation Stuff

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

There have been numerous posts recently on how to do fajin, and we’ve received quite a few emails about how the fajin can be used in a more self-defense and combat context. So in answer to all the questions:

1) Yes you can use fajin to issue power, but doing it in a combat context is a different avenue of study to that of cultivation. When you’re learning it you can use it to cultivate both but there comes a point when you have to decide within your training session either to train power issuance, or train cultivation.
2) No it is not a method to crush bone and smash all and sundry in just 7 days. Crushing said bone is just a by product of being able to generate power. Proper fajin, in that I mean, fajin that isn’t going to injure you or your training partner is the result of careful training. Power as they say, is nothing without control and developing just the power bit is not going to help you to crush aforesaid bone. You also need to develop accuracy and control to deliver the goods where and when you want to
3) Yes, cultivation and self defence are two different avenues of study, both have many common elements to begin with but quickly branch off. You can specialise in one or the other or spread yourself over the two depending on your own training goals
4) There is a two man form in taiji, and parts of it are what you see in the video above. If there is a way to perform it for health we don’t know it, for us, cultivation is mainly done via forms and qigong, we save the paired exercises for trying to bat each other senseless.

A Note On Snake Creeps Down

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

A little while back whilst Greeny and I were in the throes of getting married and moving house (I got married to Annie (again) and he moved house) @ezduzit777 on Twitter posted a note on Snake Creeps Down that inspired a short conversation on how this posture should really be done. As I was in Malaysia at the time and Greeny had packed the camera we couldn’t do a short post on what you should be looking out for in this posture.

Snake Creeps Down usually conjures up images of lithe and limber ladies literally slithering along close to the ground. Now that’s not something that everyone can do, not that I was ever a lithe and limber lady. My point is, that the whole point of a good Snake Creeps Down is not how low you can go, it’s not a limbo competition. What you’re trying to do is to stretch all the yin meridians that pass through the inside leg, and if you’re practising for health and cultivation, this should be your main focus when practising this posture. So, you should go as low as you need to to feel the stretch on the inside leg, which may be higher or lower than you might think.

If you really want to do a low Snake, then you’ll have to work the posture down to a low level over a period of time like Greeny did. It’s not strictly required for health cultivation but if you want to impress the girls and stay healthy at the same time I’d say go for it.

Yang Taiji 24 – Play Guitar – Posture 5

Friday, June 19th, 2009

This is the last posture in the first section of the Yang Taiji 24 Form.  It’s not quite as complex as some of the transitions you’ve already seen, so if you’ve got through those you should find this a bit easier to do.

Things to remember are to make sure you do a half step and not a full one, and to relax the shoulders as the hands lift.  Try not to hold your breath as you do this posture.  Holding the breath makes you hold tension in your chest, and the last part of this posture is all about a relaxation of the whole upper body, so it’ll help if you breathe out at that point.

Happy practise!

Yang Taiji 24 – Brush Knee and Twist Step Posture 4

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Brush Knee Twist Step is repeated twice more in the Yang Taiji 24 Form so you end up with your left foot in front.

You should be fairly familiar with these movements already as you would have covered them in the transition from White Crane Spreads Wings to Brush Knee Twist Step.

Yang Taiji 24 – Transition From White Crane to Brush Knee Twist Step

Friday, June 12th, 2009

OK, the first slightly tricky bit in the Taijiquan form.  This next lesson on the Yang Taiji 24 is structured as a  “Watch Me, Follow Me, Show Me” lesson as two separate videos, as we promised in the TWBI post.

In the spirit of keeping this as simple as possible, we’ve left the footwork detail to the next lesson so we don’t pack too much information into one lesson.  If  this is all new to you, or even if it’s not try out the learning technique on this Taijiquan posture.

The Watch Me Bit

The Follow Me Bit

The Show Me Bit

For this bit, you can practise quietly by yourself or if you feel adventurous, film yourself and send us a clip.  We’d love to see how you’re getting on.

Yang Taiji 24 – White Crane Spreads Wings

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

A special Taijiquan bonus for you today, two videos!  The next posture in the Yang Taiji 24 is the rather fancily named White Crane Spreads Wings.  The first video above is a summary of how to do the posture.  If you’re learning the Taijiquan form from these videos, then I’d watch that video several times and visualise yourself doing the movement.

Once you’ve done that, follow along to the movement as you see it done on screen.  Do this a few times and when you’re reasonably confident, then go ahead and try to do this on your own without any help from the Taijiquan video.

Over the years we still use this method in our own training whether it’s picking stuff up from our teacher, a workshop or a video (Yes we have learnt some very cool things from videos too!).  We’d watch it, follow it and then do it.

When you’ve done that – you’re ready for the details!

This next video in the Yang Taiji 24 is all about the details of the posture, these are the things that are going to flesh out your movement and are the nuts and bolts of how it make it feel good when you do it.

Yang Taiji 24 – Repeat Part The Wild Horse’s Mane

Friday, May 29th, 2009

You already know the next bit of the Taijiquan form.  After having done Part The Wild Horse’s Mane for the first time, you repeat it twice more so that you end up with your left leg forward.  This bit is a fairly straightforward bit of the Yang Taiji 24, as you have done all of the movements already, but we put it in so that you could have a video to “join the dots” on your Taijiquan instruction.

Yang Taiji 24 – Postures 1 & 2 Together

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

This lesson joins up postures 1 and 2 of the Yang Taiji 24 together.  Here’s how to link the Opening and Parting The Wild Horse’s Mane together to complete the first two postures of the Taijiquan form.

We suggest you look at this bit when you’re confident with the first two posture of the Taijiquan form individually.  Then you can try to string them together.

Yang Taiji 24 – Part The Wild Horses Mane – Footwork Detail

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

For your next bit of Taijiquan instruction, here are the details of the footwork on Part The Wild Horse’s Mane (posture 2). The reason why we used Greeny for this is because his size 12 flippers would make it easier to see how the feet are placed. The lines on the floorboards help you see how the feet are placed relative to each other. This detail is important as it really makes the balance of the posture work, as well as making sure you don’t put any twisting strain on the knees, which is common for this Taijiquan posture.

If you can, find a place where there are straight lines on the floor so you can practise the Taijiquan walk.  It’ll really help with getting the details on this posture together.