Practice Time and Form Repetition

Postby Wushuer » Tue Mar 16, 2004 9:20 pm

Like I said, "the devil is in the details".
You will practice according to how much detail you wish to incorporate into your form.
Do you want to train ALL the details precisely, or is it enough to get it "close"?
Everything I've ever understood about form time is that the slower the better, for many reasons.
Not the least of which is for detail oriented training.
If you slow it down, you can train every single little nit-picky detail, one by one. When you speed it up after many, many practices those details will smooth together into a cohesive, complete form that will flow together smoothly and without breaks in the flow.
Martially this means that you've got a lot of "hidden" things going on at speed. They are not apparent to others, so you're getting the benefit of "hidden" movement against your opponent. One of the mainstays of TCC martial theory is to "hide" your intentions and your movement as much as possible from your opponent. If you can turn your ankle, shift your weight and issue and no one sees or knows you'ver turned your ankle or shifted your weight, then you've successfully hidden the soon to be coming issuing against your opponent.
Does this make sense?
So if you're doing your practice long forms in ten minutes, you're cutting off one of the most beneficial part of your form training.
Slow it down, slow it down more. Make each and every move distinct, meaningful, complete in and of itself. Thread them together, but keep them clearly and distinctly seperate.
At "martial speed" these small movements and shifts that are so greatly exagerated in slow form practice will naturally follow you. You will "meld" them together effortlessly into something that appears to have none of the desired qualities, but still maintains each one in it's own right.
In this way, your opponents will never know what you're going to do next, but whatever it is it will still maintian the principals and therefore be infinitely more effective.
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Postby rvc_ve » Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:42 pm

"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."

Hi audi,

How is it different? the root of weapons practice is the barehand form. The same princiiles apllied on barehand taiji aplly to sword, sabre, spear and staff.

Im not trying to contradict you just for the sake of contradiciton, but is just that I was taught that general principles of taiji, other that weapon specificc (angle of blade, etc) should remain exactly the same on barehand form, push hands, san shou set, and weapons. Maybe Im nor undertanding your post. If so, I apologize.

[This message has been edited by rvc_ve (edited 03-16-2004).]
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Postby Audi » Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:14 am

Hi Rv,

I am not talking about different principles, but rather different training concepts. One can study principles under all sorts of circumstances, but I do not think that one will benefit equally from all of those circumstances.

If you practice the form on ice or in water, you can maintain all the principles (or at least try to), but I think that what you will train into your mind and body not ultimately be as useful as what you will train by practicing on normal level ground.

I am not certain why the Yangs do the weapons form at a faster pace than the barehand form, but I believe that the slow pace is actually considered the foundation and the more fundamental training for the way they have their system geared. One could then ask why the weapons forms are not also done at the same pace. I can speculate that eliminating all momentum from the movement of the weapons would be unnatural, since one can never control the movement of medium or heavy weight weapons in the same way that we control our limbs. One cannot stop a sword tassel or saber scarf in mid twirl.

I am not saying that relatively faster form is inherently inferior. After all, many say that Yang Luchan practiced this way. Certainly the Chen family practices at a much faster pace than what the Yangs currently do.

I made my original comments because I do not think form speed is simply a matter of doing the postures at whatever speed you want while "maintaining the principles." From what I understand, the Yangs see the form as a continuous training exercise that one never graduates from.

Almost anyone on their first day of Taijiquan can shift all their weight from one foot to the other. Many people, however, have trouble doing this without the use of momentum. Many more have difficulty doing this while also maintaining a complete sense of internal flow. If you can measure your weight shifts so that your empty foot naturally leaves the ground within an inch of the ankle giving up the stored Jin, you can than move on to doing it within a hundredth of an inch, and so on. If your ankle is right, you can then look to your knee, and then to your hip joints. This sort of training is difficult to do at the speed of the weapons forms, where the tradeoff between stillness and movement has to be different.

Is this any clearer? Does it still strike you as controversial or provocative?
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Postby rvc_ve » Wed Mar 17, 2004 2:51 am


I understand now. See, Im from a slightly different style of yang style. We actually practice weapons slow like the barehand form. Thats why I couldn initially understand you post. I apologize. Actually I wasnt aware od this difference in speed between barehand and weapons forms withung the yang family! interesting!

It is contriversial! I wish I could stay and chat some more but my day is over and I have a long drive ahead of me. I going to see my wife for the first time in 9 weeks! exciting! take care!
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Postby Kalamondin » Thu Mar 18, 2004 1:41 am

Hi all, I'm new to the discussion board but wanted to share some thoughts I had about this thread, starting from its inception.


You asked (roughly) how much practice it takes others to see an improvement. I was particularly struck by your use of the word quantum--did you merely mean measurable effects (quantify, etc.) or were you thinking of quantum states?

I find that when I am practicing every day, even if only for 15 minutes on a work break, I am more likely to experience radical shifts in my understanding of the form. If I may borrow an analogy from a half-remembered chemistry model, it's like an electron garnering enough energy to "leap" out to the next orbital away from the nucleus.

I've found that any regular practice, no matter how long or short, fast or slow, improves my understanding.

If I slack off and don't practice for days or weeks, then I lose ground and my health suffers . Then, going back into it, there's a plateau period where nothing much happens (well, I feel better, but it's those leaps in understanding that I live for).

Although sometimes, when I return to the form after a period of slacking, I find that my form has actually improved! I know this sounds implausible from the usual practice makes perfect standpoint and only mention it because I think it has to do with other things shifting in my life, improvements on other fronts. I think it makes sense actually, that becoming more relaxed about this or that--more balanced--would improve the form.

Well, I'm out of time. I'll have to come back to this later.

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Postby Wushuer » Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:05 pm

Hope I spelled that right, the threads gotten long enough that it doesn't scroll the posts anymore.
Your observation of your form improving after taking some time off is not new, it's a well known phenomenon in all kinds of disciplines.
What would happen, however, is that if you then skipped practicing again for a considerable period of time, you would see an immediate downslide after that.
I have experienced this same thing, many times.
There was a guy Sifu Eddie Wu used to like to tell us about at one of his schools who threw his life behind training TCC. He spent every waking moment practicing and training. Every one.
This went of for a couple of years I guess (remember, this is a story I heard, I have no personal knowledge beyond that) and he reached a point where he had practiced so much and for so long that he had burned out on TCC and couldn't do even the simplest things well anymore.
So he gave up.
He quit for a year, I do remember that detail, and then he returned.
Eddie used to tell us that the guy swore he hadn't trained even once in that time, and when he got back his art had improved well beyond even the highest level he had achieved before, instantly.
But it didn't last. At first he could do no wrong, he hit eveything perfectly first try, but that after a short while things balanced out and his elevation of ability came down a few notches. Then it took a few months of a normal training schedule, but he did find his way back to his peak.

So this is a known issue in this training, as well as many other disciplines.

Welcome to the boards. This is a great place to do some learning, and hopefully pass along the knowledge that is unique to you so the rest of us can learn.
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Postby Michael » Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:02 pm


Not an uncommon story. I also know of what you speak....
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:39 am

Hi Guys,

Concerning my statement, > 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. <

I stand by what I said. Aerobic training specifies running at a pace at which you can talk. If a person is going to use running as their main exercise for the cardiovascular system then the minimum workout is 20 -24 minutes a day. IIRC if that person sustains that for as little as a two month period he or she should be able to race 3 times the distance and run 4 times the distance.


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Postby Wushuer » Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:22 pm

If you are talking about "running" for an hour, I picture myself "running", full tilt boogie, for that amount of time with no regard for my breathing, I'm just "running", as in "run for your life". I don't think I could do that without a tiger behind me to motivate me along.
If you are talking about "running" for an hour as in "jogging" only to the point where I can still talk for an hour, that I can do.
My daily twenty minute stair walking routines certainly cover me for that much aerobic exercise. I have often "jogged" for an hour with little or no trouble, though not for a few years. I really detest jogging as a form of exercise, so I gave it up when I started stair walking.
I just see a big difference between "running for an hour" and "jogging for an hour".
I still don't see the correlation, however, to doing form practice at different speeds.
"Running" or even "jogging" are activities that stimulate different nervous systems than TCC form training.
I don't remember the physiological names for the different nervous systems, I'd have to break out my Wu family handouts which I don't have with me right now since I'm at work, but I do recall that there are two differing nervous systems in the human body that are important to our discussion.
One is triggered by adrenaline , the fight or flight syndrome, or sustained heavy physical work and aerobic exercise, this one is used worldwide for most types of physical training. It's the one that gets triggered by things like running, jogging or fright.
The other one, it begins with an "a" but it's just not coming to me right now (man, it's tough when the memory goes) is triggered by slow movement and relaxation techniques, like Yoga, Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chuan.
I'll tell you what, I won't wax poetic about it or try to say too much more until I can get my hands on the correct names for these things. The concept is clear in my mind, but I have no head for words in other languages and I imagine it's trying to remember the latin names for these things that is giving me such trouble.
However, you're comparing apples to oranges with your scenario.
I will get the proper wording to explain it from the folks who know ASAP and get back here with it. Probably tonight when I get home, because this is going to bug me all day now.
I know exactly WHO wrote the papers I'm thinking of. It was Sifu Ma Yeuh-liang. I want to say one of his disciples did some clinical research with Sifu Ma and they wrote a book together...
I can even picture the cover of the book...
Give me a minute....
Ah, yes. His Wu style Tui Shou book! He wrote it with one of his disciples, whose name also escapes me.
If anyone else has that book handy and can give me a hand with this, please do!
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Postby Michael » Fri Mar 19, 2004 3:23 pm

I know this does not add to the discussion, but I don't want to run or jog. Five miles before breakfast in Basic every morning. Tried it years later and still did not like it. The stairs and a Nordic track work for me. If I want to get somewhere, walking--with principles intact of course, works for me. Running and jogging seem to be too much of a "hurry" to get back where I started.

My viewpoint is "apples and oranges" as far as taiji goes, but to each his own. The only thing I see it influencing as far as taiji is concerned is lung capacity but I work on that just walking around or sitting. BAck when I was a nutso trainer I would take about four breaths a minute. Near olympic athelete level. Developed it through sitting meditation. Wish I could do that now.
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Postby DavidJ » Fri Mar 19, 2004 5:52 pm

Hi Wusherer,

You wrote, > I just see a big difference between "running for an hour" and "jogging for an hour" <

Sometimes the difference between "jogging" or "running" is a matter of pace. I specified the pace - 7 or 8 miles an hour. For some people that pace would be running for others just a jog. I also specified "effortlessly run" which to some people means a jog.

You also wrote, > I still don't see the correlation, however, to doing form practice at different speeds. <

My point was that if a person's aerobic capacity was less than a healthy normal then he or she might be misjudging his or her breathing while doing the form at different speeds. I only gave running as an example for the purpose of measurement.

Are you looking for the muscle system terms "anaerobic" and "aerobic" or the nervous system terms like "sypathetic" and "parasympathetic?"


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Postby Wushuer » Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:12 pm

I do see your point, but again do not agree with it.
Sympathetic and parasympathetic...?
Sounds close.
Again, I have a horrible head for language, can barely be coherent in english. Those are probably english terms for what I'm thinking of, but the words that want to come through... I think they're latin names.
Again. I don't have the documentation on me to look it up right now.
It was Dr. Wen Zee that he wrote the book with. I remembered that a few minutes ago.
I am having a blonde day, which makes sense because I'm blonde.
I just cannot come up with the proper terms.
Anywho, in short you have at least two differing nervous systems in your body, one that comes into play as a reaction to outside stimulus, such as fear, and uses adreneline to hop you up ready for fight or flight. This nervous system is trained by weight lifting, aerobic exercise, running, jogging, the more "traditional" programs of exercise train you to react with this nervous system for power and speed.
Then there is another nervous system that regulates your heartbeat, breathing, the kinds of things that you do without conscious thought.
The second nervous system is trained by "internal" methods only, such as yoga, Chi Kung, Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing-I, Bagua.
The idea as I understand it is that training too much in the first method will actually shorten your life span because you are using up vital energy. It will make you "stronger" in the short term, but long term you are damaging your body and depleting too much vital energy too quickly.
Training in the second method will extend your life and keep you healthier during it, because it actually increases vital energy, slows down your heart rate and breathing, these types of things.
I guess the names aren't really important, as long as the idea is understood.
The way I was told, is that you're much better off for TCC to concentrate on training only the second method, the internal method.
Again, I'm going off of memories from about ten years ago. But I do believe I'm covering the concept correctly.
Again, any help anyone can give me here would be appreciated.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri Mar 19, 2004 9:44 pm

I have it.
Sometimes it takes me a while, but I get there in the end.
The vagus nerve. That's what I'm talking about as the second system.
Whew. That's a relief, I was tearing up my brain for that word.
Training your body to use the vagus nerve (I think I'm spelling that right, but not positive) instead of the nerves that are attached to the adrenal glands (still blank on that side) will extend your life and bring good health.
The more traditional system of nerves is effected by adreneline, the vagus system apparently is not but will be overridden by the first when adrenelin is present.
Stress was the big word used to describe this state, the stress of everyday living causes adreneline to be released, which gives you strength for fight or flight but destroys chi flow by tensing you up. If you minimize, the goal here it to actually eliminate, stress then you stop releasing so much adreneline, you're not so tense, your vagus nerve can take over and bring you health, longevity, and TCC "power", for lack of a better word.

Phew! Glad I got that out of my poor, tired, stress wracked old brain.
I need to go do a form now. I think a long one.
In honor of Sifu Ma, I will make it a Wu style long form, all 108 postures, S-L-O-W-L-Y.
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Postby DavidJ » Sat Mar 20, 2004 12:05 am


> The second nervous system is trained by "internal" methods only, such as yoga, Chi Kung, Tai Chi Chuan, Hsing-I, Bagua. <
This is false. Whoever told you that is not familiar enough with physiology.

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Postby Michael » Sat Mar 20, 2004 7:44 am


I generlly agree where you are going on the subject. But I must agree with David here. What you are refering to is the nervous system that functions without conscous thought. Heart rate, breathing. This does not mean the efficiency of these functions cannot be enhanced by direct physical aeorbic training or conscious thought alone.

An olympic level runner has on average a 3-4 breating cycles per minute. I doubt many of them have ever trained in an Internal Martial art, or qi gong. As I said, I don't run or jog. But I achieved nearly their level of lung capacity and heart rate through sitting and walking meditation and general day to day living.

I have wanted to tell this story here and this may be the time I get the chance.

I was in pre op waiting to have shoulder surgery. I was the only patient there. I was bored, so I told my wife "Watch this". I lowered my heart rate and and slowed my respiration rate nearly off the carts. But my dissolved oxygen levels skyrocketed. The alarms went off and two nurses came running in expecting to see me out on the floor. THey were very suprised to see me sitting upright. I said "something wrong?" They checked all the connections and the machines for malfunctions and left. So naturally I started again. The alarms went off again and in they came running. "What are you doing in here?" So I showed them. THey couldn't believe it. And when I pointed out the dissolved oxygen they were "stupified". They left again--well I couldn't help myself. This time they were watching their own monitors and yelled back "Stop it!" but they were laughing.

You may not have to think to breath, but you can think about your breathing. grin
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