Hi Nick: This is Horacio -Jackie’s teacher. I will address the list of names first.
I am writing about it because we are trying to teach TCC as taught by Yang Zhenduo to us.
I follow the same sequence of postures that he teaches which is the same list that Jerry posted in his reply. (The list you posted -from memory- is different from what Jackie gave you at the beginning of her course. Please check it out again or ask her for a new list.
The difference is that posture #3 Grasp the bird’s tail has five parts (ward off left, right, pull back, press and push). Jackie’s list follows the Association’s List. By the time one finishes Grasp the bird tail -with the posture “an”-push- one has done 3 postures. The way you remember it -by your count- you executed 9 postures. That is how things start to change...
It is the same sequence. Just broken down different.
...now. i find lists of the forms all over, but none resemble exactly what we are learning.
The assoc. list is the same as the one you are learning.
Q: am i truely learning the 'traditional' Yang family form?
Yes, "the real thing" as taught by the 4th generation of the Yang family -Yang Zhenduo.
also, i wish to learn the Tai Chi Sword form and the Saber form as well.
Q: any suggestions as to WHEN i should begin to study these forms?
Usually after learning the long form. For you, July/2001 when the yang Masters Will teach saber in San Antonio. Whenever possible, try to learn directly from the Masters.
Q: is the reading/studying of books as valuable as taking classes? how far can one go with the 'book'?
Both are valuable. There are “gold nuggets” in the writings of Yang Family Masters of past generations. Reading and understanding their insights will help your learning and give you a clear direction for what you are trying to learn. Sometimes the teacher may quote these sayings and lead you to research more for yourself. But you have to read it and digest it yourself.
I heard they ask Buddha if he achieved his state through the practice of meditation, and he answer “Not with it nor without it”
I would say one can not achieve “with books alone” nor without them. (also there is a question of Which books are good or necessary?. I am suggesting that books written by the Family of the Style you are learning can not be ignored)
Gene told you:
While there are different styles of tai chi, even within a given style there may be some variations. For example, I have studied Yang style under two different instructors ---- and while the basic moves are the same, there were still variations in the execution of the moves. Rather than focus on the differences in the ways tai chi is done, I would suggest that a better focus would be on the essence of tai chi --- i.e., what makes tai chi tai chi. In other words, for now look for what the different styles have in common.
Horacio's Comment: If you are a beginner you probably know only one style -the one you are currently learning.You can not compare styles if you know only one style otherwise the comparison would be only intellectual -in the head.
One really can know what the different styles have in common if one studies and researches the different styles. From outside they have in common several things....but they are really different, otherwise they would have the same name.
Now how to say this without offending anybody? No intention to offend, really!!!!!!.
Wouldn’t one say that one is teaching Yang Family Style if one teaches what the Yang family teaches?
How can there be teachers of Yang Style with variations in the execution of moves? There are variations of skill, and like it has been noted: Yang Jun does not look like Yang Zhenduo when doing the same form. There are obvious reasons for this: YZD has practice for 70 years. But what they-YZD & YJ- are doing is the same. They are applying the same method to the postures they are performing.
What makes Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan be Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan? instead of Chen Style? or Wu style? or Beijing Style (24)?
The Method used.
What is the method?
The method is in this case is the prescription Yang Chengfu left: The ten principles.
Master Yang Zhenduo has described the characteristics of Traditional Yang Family Style Tai Chi Chuan as marked by: (quote)
* extended and natural movements;
* distinct transformation between and combination of hardness and softness
* beautiful postures, and bold grace.
These features are derived from the ten requirements set by his father, Master Yang Chengfu.
The ten requirements are: 1) emptying the neck and straightening the head; Etc., Etc.
"When these requirements are fulfilled, the features of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan become manifest"”. (end of quote)
Maybe we should not give the name Yang Style to almost anything just because it follows a certain sequence and the names are the same.
It is Yang Style (yang Chengfu's Yang Style) if it follows the 10 principles. This following is not “just in the head” but in actual perfomance. If a perfomance does not show an intent to execute the 10 principles then it is not Yang Style.
These ten principles are specific operational processes and not merely vague generalities; and they have to be manifested simultaneously while doing the form. For this to happen specific training is required . This training is for the BodyMind together (simultaneously) and it affects the practitioner's consciousness.
The ten principles are the keys needed to unlock the hidden possibilities and benefits of the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan system. There cannot be Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan without the understanding and the manifestation of the ten essential requirements into the form one practices.
Understanding the ten requirements means manifesting them in action. Here, the word understanding does not mean "intellectual knowledge" - i.e. being able to quote the 10 principles from memory.
Understanding, which is Knowledge plus Being, manifests in Action.
In other words, when one understands the importance of the ten requirements one works to embody them at each moment of one's practice; and, for these requirements to be manifested -simultaneously- at each moment of one's practice, specific training is required.
This training can be conveyed only by a “specific teacher”
Is anybody who says, “I teach Yang style” really teaching Yang style?
Finally about books:
In Yang Chengfu’s preface to “complete principles and applications of TCC” there are several warnings.
One of them reads:
Quote......"There is only one school of TCC; there are not two methods. Don't be deluded by your own cleverness and foolishly make additions or deletions. If modifications were necessary in the methods laid down by worthy men of the past, then these would have been implemented during the many centuries from the Yuan and Ming dynasties down to the present. Did these modifications need to wait for our own generation? I hope that future students will not be led astray by externals, but seek always the inner truth. One must be patient if one desires to advance to the highest excellence.
The most important thing in studying the "Postures" is not the "external appearance", but to grasp the idea.
The greatest danger is in introducing one's personal innovations and passing on errors as true transmission. The true transmission of principles and applications is easily lost, even to the point of obscuring the original intention of former masters. Thus we offer this book, which is based on the old texts with revisions, as a correct standard" End of quote from:
Yang Chengfu in his Introduction to the "Complete Principles and applications of Tai chi Chuan" (1934). Douglas Wile Translation in "Tai Chi Touchstones, Yang Family Secret transmissions", page 158.
A teacher that is teaching his own interpretation of what he calls -or someone called- Yang Style is probably not going to suggest you read much. If you read, you will find clear precautions about introducing one’s own changes.