Practice Time and Form Repetition

Postby Yang Shen » Fri Mar 12, 2004 6:59 pm

Hello all, I am a new member and would just like to say hello and participate in some discussions.
Time is an interesting concept. My teacher would say investing time in practice is much like a savings account at the bank the more you put in the more one may gather or disperse at will.

One could dissolve time and not make it be a factor. We are all different requiring different sets of time for our practice so 30 min may be correct for one but way to little or too much for another so the question arrives from with in and that is also where the answer is stored.
Not to much not too little according to ones ever changing place at the moment so I do not believe there is a correct answer. Our own awareness allows us to be the craftsman, who is the master of the different tools; the tools are merely empty objects. Alright I will post and see how this works.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:18 pm

Greetings All,

I will admit in advance that I have only shed a precursory glance over the posts on this please forgive if I am blatantly reiterating something someone already stated...

I just noted the queries concerning speed of form...

I am fixated still on the concept that the speed is based on "quiessence"..."10" of the Yang ChengFu "Ten essentials"...

The breathing should moreover conform to the movements...And the movements ins and outs should conform to the breathing.

When I practice too breathing may become more shallow and thus cause physical distress.

And when I practice very slowly...I am limited by my lung expansion.
When I run out of intake...I must output...and therefore MUST move onto the output of the movement...or else asfixiate. Image

It is easier to speed up slightly and not notice the difference in breathing, but slowing down requires lung expansion...and is developped further with time and practice.

I would imagine that QiGong is instrumental towards this means.
I have also noted that QiGong is incorporated into many, many, many Taichi schools curriculum...

Do others use quiessence,stillness, breathing with their TaiChi form?

I can understand that in real combat one must remain flexible...As Wusher once explained...but what of form work...?

Does this pail of logic hold water...or is there a hole in the bottom?

These are, after all, informations I have gleaned and experienced with beginners perception.

Does this make any sense to more experienced practitioners?

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 03-12-2004).]
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Postby rvc_ve » Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:07 pm

Hi guys!

Good thread, but I must confess I lost my concentraion early on the reading, so I didnt read all of the replies...but I get the Idea!

This is an important issue, ans sometimes people get caught up on trying to follow a specific pace in order to do the form in a specific timeframe, therefore becomeing mechanich and loosing all internal atributes.

Here is my opinion on it, and its actually not mine but comes from various masters of yang style including yang cheng fu:


If you are able to mantain the flow, structure and all taiji requirements, then a specific timeframe becomes unimportant, although I must add that over time and as our skill increases we should play with both ends of the spectrum and gauge the results.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:54 pm

The expression that keeps going through my head is this:
The devil is in the details.

How much detail can you concentrate on in a very fast form? How much detail can you concentrate on in a very slow form?
Psalchemist makes an excellent point with his lung capacity observation. It's one that I have often thought of in the 13 posture class I am currently taking.
There are only two other students in the room who have ever trained TCC before, and our instructor of course. I often find myself only half way through the form when all others around me are completely finished.
Our instructor has told us to pay close attention to our breathing to find the timing for ourselves.
Well, obviously those of us with TCC and Chi Kung breathing training are doing very slow forms this way. We breath deeply, abdominally, and slowly, and have the skill to co-ordinate that with our form while we are then able to concentrate on those devilish details we're burdened with.
But the beginners, they are barely familiar with the concept, and are of course not going to be breathing as deeply or as slowly, and they can hardly be expected to breath abdominally yet. They also do not have the depth of detail in their form that the more advanced students are going to be concentrating on. It's enough for now that they are getting their arms and feet more or less in the correct vicinity and are beginning to think of these extraneous other matters.
The devil, my friends, is in the details of the form and breath.
Haven't the masters been saying that for years now?
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Postby Michael » Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:11 pm


It would be pretty rare for me to stop to "fix" something as well. I do consider the set to be for practicing "flow".

I am wondering how you approach single movement training? I string the individual form/posture together in continous movement. So I never have to stop to fix something. Brush Knees etc are esy as is Cloud Hands, Warf right, press etc. Sometimes you have to be creative to come up with an appropriate transition. Sometimes that transition is quite a "discovery" as well.

Just curious as I always like to find new "ways".


you took the words out of my mouth.

If you can maintain the principles you can go as "fast" or "slow" as you wish. I also think as we progress in our practice we have to keep challenging ourselves whether it be going slower, faster or deeper stances.

I never decide I am going to do a "forty five minute" set, or a "twenty minute" set. Heck, I have not worn a watch in over twenty five years--the is how much "time" in that "form" matters to me. I start my pace as I raise my hands and try to stick with it. "Forty minutes" or what ever is just a reference. It just happens that my slow set is about forty to forty eight minutes. When the sweat is pouring off me about 1/2 way through the second section, I know I am going at the pace I want.
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Postby Michael » Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:14 pm

Lung capacity as psalchemist mentions is very important and it can be a very limiting factor. We should all work on increasing it. That is something one can do..well...with every breath.

JUst saw Wushuers post. I agree.

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 03-12-2004).]
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Postby rvc_ve » Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:12 am

Along the same subject... The way I was taught, aside from keeping the principles and everything we have discussed here, Whenever we want to do a fast form, say close to fighting speed, we also need to incorporate the pulsing movements of fah jing, instead od doing it on an even pace, so we can move on a realistic way. This training is obviousy for fighting, but its also an interesting way to "test" our alignment and jing balance when we fah jing.

Since we are talking about form speed I thought I'll bring it up.
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Postby psalchemist » Sat Mar 13, 2004 12:27 am

Greetings Rvc,

When you say the "pulsating movements of Fa-jin", I am not sure I understand your conveyance...

Are you describing a generally more *momentum* filled cadence (which I find only occurs in a much faster paced practice)?

I find myself, at times, when speeding up...I gain a pattern of slightly slower "input" with slightly quicker output cadence...Are we speaking the same language?

I'm not sure I can really convey the feeling effectively...

Thank you,
Best regards,
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Postby rvc_ve » Sat Mar 13, 2004 1:24 am


no its no the same. Have you ever seen chen style? well, at fast speed the diference between accumulate/release, and the fah jing is niticeable in a sort of "jerking" fashion. Thats what I mean. In fighting apps, yang style resembles chen a lot.

Well, it evolved from it right? so it shouldt be surprising!

However, this is sort of an "optional" practice. Many people gain proficiency in yang style without ever practicing the form this way, but thts the way Yang ban hou used to do it. He has a special frefference for emmiting short jing. Its less usual in the YCF form.
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Postby Shi Tianren » Sat Mar 13, 2004 3:25 am

Well, Audi,

I do the form quite fine according to everything that I have been taught. I maintain substantial and insubstantial all the time.

Perhaps due to my previous martial arts history (mainly Traditional Shaolin and some self-defense stuff) I happen to be able to move at more faster pace while still maintaining the same principles of Taijiquan. I practice mainly the Tung/Dong version of Yang style. Although the Dong family does the form just as slow.

I'd like to think that my age of 21 has something to do with my speed (although it's arguable). The main thing is that according to what I know and to what my Taiji Teacher knows, I am not doing the form incorrectly nor does it appear fast when I do it.

Perhaps I should look into it more....
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Postby Yang Shen » Sat Mar 13, 2004 2:31 pm

I have found Form and application appearance may differ a great deal but the principles behind movement and stillness remain the same. I fully agree with conscious control of breath with coordinated movement during formwork but breath should be natural.

“Were there is no breath there is pure steel”. Practicing Taoist breathing or long breath methods one may make twenty movements at a fast pace on one breath. Inhaling as in collecting, exhaling as in emitting, the ten thousand techniques uniquely found in the moment. Yet boxing has no fixed rule my breath is natural my heart rate stays constant during a flurry of activity and my mind remains still. Only when we have something still and something moving are we conscious of an event other wise there my be no reference point for us to perceive the subtly yet revealing movement of the opponents mind/intention.

Balancing the poles to move fast we train slow. Training slowly with correct principle there should be no muscles conflicting with each other slowing our movements down so we become very fast.

Fa jing can be a manifestation of reverse medicine or destructive explosive power focused. After training mind body and energy flow correctly one will not hurt themselves with the use of fa jing.

Internal arts may not make a show of power (for the most part) we do Fa Chi and Cai Chi, emitting energy and collecting energy respectively every other move in a form. The function is no different then destructive forms yet not seen by onlookers only when we face an opponent does the use become apparent then our skill can be called many things but all empty words to describe the origins.
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Mar 15, 2004 9:02 pm

Hi Everybody,

I would recommend daily practice even of all you can do is 5 minutes.

I was taught to do the slow set (108) in 35 to 45 minutes.

Over the years you get lots of opportunities. I once did something like 13 or 14 months where my main set took 65 minutes.

I've been saying "not so slow as to lose the flow, not so fast as to lose the structure," for a few years here, and I think maybe it's time to add to that.

You should practice faster and faster to the point that your structure fails and then look at *why* the structure failed. One solution, for example, is putting part of your mind's focus in the hip of the leg that's kicking. Image

You should practice slower and slower to the point that the flow stops, and look to why the flow stopped.

When you get to practicing daily for about three hours you begin to get that "world- class- athlete" feeling.

Alchemist: If your breathing becomes difficult as you go slower then either double your breathing pace or let it go and don't consciously affect your breathing at all. At no time should you be forcing or holding you breath.

If you are able to effortlessly run for an hour (say 7 or 8 miles) without getting out of breath then you'd be in a position to judge your breathing while doing the form at different speeds. Short of that you are probably not up to minimum oxygen capacity for a normally healthy individual.


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Postby Wushuer » Mon Mar 15, 2004 10:10 pm

David J.,
Did I read that correctly?
Running for an hour effortlessly is your idea of "minimum oxygen capacity for a normal individual"?
Before I became a network god for a living I was a bio-med technician. I used to repair oximeters, which are used to test pulse rate and oxygen saturation levels of the blood, and had to test them on my own body, so I'm quite well versed on my bodies heart rate and ox levels.
Without going into clinical detail, my resting pulse/ox rate is 46/99. My resting heart rate is way below what could be considered "normal", my blood oxygen level is well above the "normal" range as well.
These are the lowest and then the highest levels ever seen by the six Respiratory Therapists who worked at my former firm.
My stessed levels were equally impressive.
So my "health" is not in question, I have way above average "oxygen capacity" by anyones standards, which I attribute to Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung training for well over a decade.
I can do four forms end to end without even slowing down, without once even beginning to breath hard. I can do single inhalations and exhalations per form at the slowest rates of movement any of my former Sifu's could contrive, with absolutely no difficulty.
I can, have an do perform push hands, vigorously, for half an hour or more without raising my heart or breathing levels.
I could not, to save my life, run for an hour effortlessly.
If this is the "minimum oxygen capacity" for your standards, I'm a dead man.
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Postby rvc_ve » Tue Mar 16, 2004 12:11 am

wow! yeah! thats a little off the wall! no offense. Im quite a runner. Im in the Army NAtional Guard, and well, you know how much we soldiers have to run Image! I can run for an hour without truble me...
after the hour is up, you'll see me breathing hard and asking for mercy!

As far as I know, the optimum cardiovascular capabilty is measures in 20 minute intervals. If you can do 20 min aoeribic excercise while keeping an average heart rate, breathing rithm (or whatever you call it), you're ok.

But on the other hand I've noticed, that even though some army guys run every day, and I jog...well, not even one a week, but I practice tajiquean 7 days a week, when we train I can keep up with them and even go faster than some! I give taijiquan credit for this high level of stamina.

so If he can do a 65 min form, it would surprise me that he could just as easily be a marathon runner! and IM serious!
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Postby Audi » Tue Mar 16, 2004 7:44 pm

Hi Everyong,

Thanks for all the interesting comments.

Shi, I was not trying to suggest that you were doing movements in correctly and not separting full and empty.

As I understand it, the Yangs apply the same fundamental principles to all their forms; however, impose slightly different practice requirements. In the barehand form, weight shifts are to be absolutely clear with the full range used. In the weapons forms, one must show more flow and thus should not always clearly separate weight between the feet. Full and empty are internally driven concepts, while weight shifting is externally driven.

At a pace slower than 15 minutes, it would seem to me that the barehand form would have to be performed more with the qualities of the weapons forms. This does not violate any principles, but is a slightly different training concept.

Another issue buried in the issue of form pace is the question of difficulty. As I understand it, certain postures are actually more difficult to perform slowly than quickly. If one speeds up the form, this then provides less of a training challenge in these instances. This is a different concept than thinking of speed as always adding difficulty to keeping the principles.

Again, I cannot say which is right, but it does seem different to me.

Many of the posters made comments about coordinating breathing with form movements. I have some questions about this, but will probably start a new topic if I have time.

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