New To 108

New To 108

Postby jonathan » Sun Aug 10, 2003 7:35 am

Hello,

I'm new to Yang 108 movement, I've practised the Beijing 24 forms for some time through a Kung Fu teacher, but realised that he didn't know very much about the 24 forms. Here in my country we don't have any teacher for the Yang style 108 movements. I've been on the site Michael Gilman studio where he offers lots of photographs and explanation about the form and also video tape. I've ordered books by B.K.Frantzis. I've practised the form but wander whether it's good or not, I followed the instructions as close as possible and aware of through observation of myself. Is it possible to do the form correctly through my way and where one knows if one is wrong? Thank You

Jonathan
jonathan
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Mauritius

Postby psalchemist » Sun Aug 10, 2003 5:17 pm

Hello Jonathan,
I too am a new student to taijiquan. I have been studying the Yang style long form for over a year now, with the guidance of a highly qualified and experienced sifu. I can only provide you with my personal opinions and suggestions...

You said:
<I'm new to Yang 108 movement, I've practiced the Beijing 24 forms for some time through a Kung Fu teacher....>

Studying Kung Fu is a wonderful experience, however it cannot be compared with Taijiquan. That would be like comparing apples and oranges. Kung Fu is a hard/external art, while Taijiquan is a soft/internal art. I too have studied Kung Fu for a couple of years with the assistance of a competent authority in the proffession. In a topical way, it may SEEM like Taijiquan is a slower version of Kung Fu, however, REALLY it is NOT. Also, Taijiquan may look deceptively tame with it's slowly executed movements, but I have learned that moving slowly is much more work and strain on the body than moving quickly.

You said:
<I've been on the site Micheal Gilman studios where he offers lots of photographs and explanations about the form and also videotape. I've ordered books by B.K.Frantzis.>

I would never discourage someone from researching through books, videos, photos, or discussions. However, in my opinion, these should be used as additions to knowledgeable instruction from a disciplined and qualified teacher/practitioner/master.

Taijiquan is very complex.

There is a difference between mimicking and understanding movements. There is great meaning and purpose underlying each posture of the form, which has been established over thousands of years by masters in the field of Taiji and which could not possibly be conveyed through reference texts or videos.

Also there is great potential for injury inherent in mimicry without personal correction. If you click on the link provided by Gu Rou Chen in 'TCC Theories and Principles(august) you will find described three essential principles of Taijiquan and some of the possible side effects occuring from incorrect practice. I have also heard reference to injuries much more damaging and permanent than those few minor ones named within. You could ruin your knees completely in ignorance. If not for the diligent reminders of my instructors on the importance of not over-extending, collapsing, twisting, etc.. I would surely have ruined my knees a long time ago. When I practice without respecting these basic physical rules,the strain on my knees is instantaneous and injurious.

You said:
<Is it possible to do the form correctly through my way and where one knows if one is wrong?>

Taijiquan is very complex.

It is impossible for you to know where you are wrong, you could make guesses, but you would only know for certain that these were correct if it were confirmed by a Taijiquan Master. There are rules, but just as many exceptions.

You said:
<Here in my country we don't have any teacher for the Yang Style 108 movements.>

What would I do? Move Image
What would I suggest? Maybe place some ads requesting the guidance of a Yang style teacher. Maybe your neighbor practices but does not advertise...Who knows? When we seek, we find.

In my opinion the more you practice Taijiquan, the more you need proper tutelage.

Good luck in your pursuits,
Take care,
Psalchemist.
psalchemist
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 6:01 am

Postby jonathan » Wed Aug 13, 2003 9:01 pm

Thank You Psalchemist for your reply. Unfortunately on my small island I don't think I'll get a Taijiquan master. Worst I can't move. Anyway many thanks.
jonathan
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Mauritius

Postby Audi » Sun Aug 17, 2003 3:20 pm

Hi Jonathan,

May I ask what your primary purpose or purposes are in studying Taijiquan? Do you do it for fun, for health, for fitness, for self defense, for philosophical insight, or for some other purpose?

Generally, most people would say that it is not possible to learn much Taijiquan without the supervision of a good instructor. Although I agree with this opinion, I find posing the question in this fashion is less useful than it might seem. I prefer to think of the question as being: Is it worthwhile to do Taijiquan if one does not have access to a good instructor? I would answer this latter question differently, depending on the purpose one has for studying Taijiquan.

Good luck with your studies!

Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby jonathan » Mon Aug 18, 2003 1:58 pm

Thank you Audi,

I study Tai Chi Chuan primarily for Spiritual insight, health, fitness and self-defense. I do have a lot of patience and I think it will be rewarding in the future. what do you suggest?

Thanks Once More My Best Regards

Jean-Noel
jonathan
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2003 6:01 am
Location: Mauritius

Postby psalchemist » Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:26 pm

Greetings Jean Noel,

I have been worrying about you and your joints Image
So I'm back with more suggestions, hope I can help a little.

Firstly, may I suggest you consider if it is indeed Taijiquan you should be seeking.(sometimes seeking the wrong thing can be frustrating and futile). Ask yourself...Why Taijiquan? Why Taijiquan as opposed to another martial art or meditational art? What has lead you to discover Taijiquan? Has it been a recurring theme in your life? Any funny coincidences? You mentioned that you ordred some literature on the subject...Have any books ever 'fallen' into your possession, through friends, or used books which just caught your eye, etc...Do you find patterns? Are there signs from your overall life which point you in this direction?

Studying your present life and your past experiences can help to guide you in your future endeavors.

If it is truly your 'path to follow', then I must warn you that there are also the factors of 'time and place' which must then be taken into account.

Sometimes, we are simply feeling a 'preview' of what we will be doing in the future, but it is the wrong time. Sometimes this is difficult to accept.

For example... All my youth, I believed that I would somehow be a racehorse jockey(amongst other things)even though,i lived all my youth in the city, with no such possibility, I hadn't even been in contact with a horse.I had a strong feeling that maybe I sould pursue this field.due to lack of opportunity, I put it out of my mind as a fanciful thought.Many many years later, despite the chasm of geography and lifestyle, I was recently given the opportunity to become involved with sulky race horses. I grasped this opportunity,became an apprentice in a small stable, I cleaned out stalls, groomed the horses, learned all I could, and then was given opportunity to actually train them for the races. When given the option of racing, however, this did not work out quite as I had thought many years earlier. I discovered that many of the jockeys were so aggressive about winning that they would do anything, including pushing a fellow jockey into a heap mangled up with his horse onto the side of the track. So, actually my feelings I had many years prior were along the same lines, the feeling was right. the timing was off.

Our feelings and history must be studied, and we must adjust our goals accordingly as we go along. Be open to possibility and set nothing in stone. Maybe it's now, maybe it's later, maybe it is something slightly different...Investigation of these aspects might help. Feelings are usually significant of something.

Other times, we are seeking the right thing at the right time, but are in the wrong place...This would be crucial to your success of course. Only you can judge as to the importance of what you seek. Only you can take the appropriate steps toward your goals, and make the necessary changes required.

Usually things we 'should' be doing just happen without effort, but there are times when we must make small efforts to overcome minor obstacles. If you work and work and work and get nowhere, may I suggest it is perhaps the wrong time,place, or thing you seek.

To overcome the small stuff requires a certain amount of trust and belief in what you are doing. We must first discard the old to create a space for the new. We must abandon to regain. We must close a door first in order for another to open. Then the opportunity for new growth should occur, the opportunity should present itself.

Create the opportunity through positive, focused thinking, and taking the concrete steps to to assist in propelling these thoughts.

Disscussing your dilemma here was a concrete step, even if it hasn't produced a master for you, yet. Place ads requesting a teacher, but you must try to believe that results are possible. I've seen others place 'seeking master in such and such an area' placed here on the boards. Daydream about being a master, if you paint, express your wishes on canvas with brush etc...the important thing is to manifest your needs in a real manner, focus and attention are the essential factors, chant to yourself something motivational and positive every night before sleep .....Pay utmost attention to your thoughts to provoke a positive reaction, then, just 'let it go'. The momentum you have set in motion with concrete action must be given time to process, obsessing about it would interfere. Let go, not necessarily by forgetting about it completely, or even necessarily for a long time, but do try to change your mind to a different subject for awhile. Keep your eyes opened for signs and coincidence. Investigate these to see where they lead, and when the opportunity does arise, grasp it with both hands and all your determination and change whatever will have to be changed.Don't give up over minor obstacles. Perseverence is Paramount.

Probably enough hot air here to fill a blimp!

Good luck,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
psalchemist
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Wed May 21, 2003 6:01 am

Postby Audi » Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:30 pm

Hi Jean-Noel,

I would say that there are more or less three variables that determine how well someone can learn Taijiquan: the person’s native skill and drive, time and effort in training (i.e., gongfu), and proper instruction. All three are important, and each can be further subdivided; for instance, proper instruction can presuppose a teacher with worthwhile knowledge to impart, a good teaching method, and time to give to students.

If all a person has is written material, I think he or she can have a lot of fun with Taijiquan, but will not actually be able to learn much true Taijiquan. It is like trying to learn how to speak Chinese by only using a phrase book and consulting written descriptions of tones and pronunciations.

If one has videotapes in addition to written material, I think it becomes just barely possible to learn something, but the person must be extremely motivated to apply the material correctly, and the material itself must be of very high quality. This is like trying to learn to speak Chinese using audiotapes, but without a live instructor.

If, in addition to the above, one has occasional access to a qualified teacher (e.g., through seminars), I think that one begins to have a fighting J chance. Even occasional access can make a huge difference.

When one has frequent access to a good teacher, it makes substantial learning much more possible; however, there is still no guarantee, especially if the student does not put in the necessary training. Basic “gongfu” is developed more by time and effort than by native ability or access to good teaching.

Different people have different ideas about what defines Taijiquan. Many would disagree with my ideas and so might reject what I say below. I say this to try to put my words in context.

When I asked you about your primary reasons for studying Taijiquan, I was trying to figure out how to target useful advice, rather than asking for the range of your interests. Four areas make a great range of interests, but are really a lot of “primary” reasons. I would give very different advice to someone studying Taijiquan primarily for self-defense from someone studying it for fitness, given that the hours in the day are limited. For instance, most people dedicate the vast bulk of their training to doing form. The form, in my opinion, is extremely important and the foundation for everything else; nevertheless, it really is insufficient by itself to give any real fighting skill. Others have posted frequently on this topic. Relying only on form to learn self-defense would be like trying to become fluent in Chinese only by reading through dictionaries and grammar books.

If you truly have four equal “priorities” in studying Taijiquan (insight, health, fitness and self-defense), I would say that some priorities are likely to suffer at the expense of others. I believe that Taijiquan can encompass all, but that few people can dedicate the time necessary to reach that level of benefit. The more one puts in, the more one receives. Overall, I think the goal of self-defense is most likely to include the others, but practical self-defense is a much more difficult goal than might appear.

Taking your statement literally, I would rank your expressed interests in order of increasing difficulty as follows: health, insight, fitness, and self-defense.

I would say that health benefits from Taijiquan begin with very little accomplishment. Simply focusing the mind calmly and “dancing around” on a regular basis can yield benefits. I have a similar view of “spiritual insight.” I personally do not consider my Taijiquan to be “moving meditation”; however, there is certainly a meditative aspect to practice that in itself can lend some insights. The more one does Taijiquan and the better one does it, the richer the insights.

Fitness, which I would define as making long-lasting changes in the body’s structure and/or systems, comes harder. Some fitness could be a realistic goal for someone studying only from videotapes, but it would not come easily without corrective instruction. In my view, fitness really begins to come from learning how to manipulate movement energy. The problem is that movement energy is not directly visible and so is extremely hard to describe using only words. It is also possible to injure yourself if you try too hard at doing the wrong things. The knees can be especially vulnerable in certain styles.

In my opinion, martial accomplishment comes the hardest of all and cannot be achieved without personal instruction from someone with a great deal of knowledge. It is always possible to incorporate Taiji-like movements, techniques, or principles into some other martial system; but, in my opinion, this is not really Taijiquan. Taijiquan has no monopoly on Chinese philosophy. The mere fact that you are training according to principles of Chinese philosophy does not mean that you are practicing Taijiquan.

Using Taijiquan for martial purposes requires constantly working with and on a partner’s energy, not merely borrowing it occasionally for this or that technique. Without a partner and a teacher to guide the practice, it will be virtually impossible to “enter the gate.” I cannot think of a way to really get the feel of adhering, sticking, linking, and following (zhan, nian, lian, sui) without a partner and without some personal contact with a teacher. It is like trying to learn how to swim without getting in the water or learning how to wrestle without ever touching an opponent. Knowing only oneself is not sufficient.

Jean-Noel, you asked specifically about how to know whether you are doing things correctly or not. I think that most experienced practitioners think in terms of making their postures “adequate” and then refining from there. A posture may be “adequate” in some ways, but “inadequate” in others. The refining process never stops.

If all you have to go on are books and videotapes, I am not sure what I could recommend to give yourself the necessary feedback. I think what I would advise is to study the tapes and books you have and try to get to the point where you feel the movement or stillness of every joint has specific meaning to you at every moment of the form. This might sound strange or unobtainable, but I would suggest that most swimmers feel something more or less like this while doing any of the established strokes or even while treading water. No joint feels as if it is engaged in random movement at any moment.

If you had only a snapshot of a swimmer as a reference, it probably would not be hard to tell what kind of energy just about every joint of the swimmer is expressing at the moment the picture was taken. If you did the same with a basketball or soccer player, this would probably not be true. For instance, when a basketball player is dribbling with the right arm, the left arm often adopts positions that have little connection to the action of the ball. Similarly, a soccer player’s fingers and elbows adopt all sorts of positions that may have no connection to what his or her knees are doing. There are too many equally valid options. In either sport, the player’s neck and the yoke of the shoulders will probably be oriented to reflect the attitude and position of the player with respect to a nearby opponent, not to the energy being expressed by the ball. In my opinion, this type of movement does not make sense and is not present in good Taijiquan.

My last bit of advice is that in choosing your videotapes and your books, you need to make sure that you are choosing true teaching material, rather than mere documentary material. Good teaching videotapes of the hand form generally come in multi-volume sets. Teaching books usually combine extensive pictures or illustrations with a lot of written description and theory. Other material can also be excellent as a supplement, but not as primary source material.

I would also advise very strongly that you be very careful in combining training techniques and principles from multiple sources or multiple traditions until you have sufficient experience to put the sources in proper context. Combining teachings from different families or from people who are more than two generations apart can lead you into very difficult areas. In my view, good training methods are not necessarily mutually reinforcing and may conflict in subtle, but very important ways. Some variations are innocuous and unimportant to distinguish. Others are fundamental and of critical importance. One needs enough context and experience to begin sorting out which is which, before really embracing too much variation.

The last thing I can say about judging your level of attainment is that the best guide, absent a qualified teacher, is probably the classic writings. As the classics stop sounding to you like mysterious scripture or even logical theories, but rather as instruction manuals expressed in a reasonable style, your Taijiquan is probably soundly on track and beyond a beginning level. Don’t expect everything to come at once.

I hope all of this is helpful. Let me know if anything is unclear or off the mark. Again, others may disagree with my opinion. Other may agree with some of what I have said, but have much better and much more useful things to say than me.

Good luck with your practice,
Audi
Audi
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA


Return to Tai Chi Chuan - Barehand Form

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest