form in 20 minutes?

Postby Wushuer » Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:52 pm

Wu family has four basic warm ups. You perform them for about five minutes, then do about five minutes of what they call "the tai chi chuan walk". After this you do form practice. If that is all you're going to do, you practice for as long as you feel up to it.
Their "long form" is usually recommended to be done in approximately a twenty five minute time frame. I have done thier form in eight minutes, I have taken an hour. It just depends on what you are training for at the time, what mood you are in, what time of day, what the weather is like, how hungry you are...
You get the idea.
Never heard that doing it faster or slower is "bad" or "good". It all depends on what you are doing at the time.
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Nov 24, 2003 4:15 pm

Sir Jerry,

Although I am a Yang style practitioner, and Zhenji stated that slow performance build gongfu yes in that slow performance makes one good at slow perfomance with its exquisite display but it can never build 'martial skill'. The statement does not hold up if one states slow is the only way. It has always been a combination of hard and soft. not soft/slow only.

The statement makes sense due to the present health level status of Yang style taijiquan. It is wonderful activity for all citizens to build health.
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Postby JerryKarin » Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:01 pm

I think Yang Zhenji's point is that you build up gongfu with the form which you can then learn to use in martial applications through push hands.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:38 pm

Dorshugla:
Doing the form faster will not build "martial skill" if you are not doing the form correctly.
Doing the form slowly will not build "health" if you are not doing the form correctly.
In my personal, humble opinion the most important factor to concentrate on to build either "martial skill" or "health" is proper form.
What is "proper form"? Doing the form correctly, using proper body mechanics and incorporating the basic skills of TCC into your form at the proper time and in the proper way.
Until you can do these things then going faster or slower makes no difference, you aren't building any skills doing form work this way.
First worry about doing the form correctly, then worry about doing it faster or slower.
Going a bit faster will help you learn to move faster, which is necessary to increasing martial skill and health benefit, but this will only matter if you are still correct in your practice of the form as you go faster. Going slower is also good for building martial skill as well as health, but again only if you do the forms correclty at the slower speed. You need both in equal measure to build either of these benefits.
I feel it would be better to emphasize correctness of form practice and let the individual practitioner follow his teachers advice as to when he should begin to speed up and slow down his forms.
After all, the time to start doing anything with TCC is very individualized. It will depend on the level of skill of each person based on their performance, not some calendar that can be applied to everyone, so you really need to listen closely to your teacher to progress in a satisfactory way.
If I have a student who shows me he is doing the entire long form correctly and is applying the skills at the right times in the right places, then I want that student to start varying the speed of his forms so he can learn to do them correctly and how to correctly apply the skills at greater or lesser speeds to help them build this knowledge in thier own body. However a student who is making a lot of mistakes on his forms or is not applying all the skills in their proper ways or at the proper times is going to have to keep working on correcting these things before I start them on the same path.
This is why it is crucial to find a skilled teacher and follow their advice.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 24, 2003 6:45 pm

Greetings Jerry,

If it's the passage I'm thinking of, Yang Zhenji was responding to some fellow who had approached him with a request to teach him some "trick moves" that he could learn quickly, without bothering with all that form practice. Master Yang's response was that there are no "trick moves" in taijiquan, and that only repeated practice of the form will give one the capacity to respond appropriately in a defense situation.

I think that is very true of this art. It's not just an inventory of discrete techniques. Certainly push hands plays a crucial role in developing skill, but the foundation is form practice, where the prefection of muscle memory is established. I recall Chen Weiming made the same assertion in his "Answers to Questions" text.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Nov 24, 2003 7:42 pm

wushuer,

Your point is well taken.

I have seen "terrible" form with excellent prctical uses fro martial applications for many who do it for that purpose. That is wonderful! I have never (rarely) seen beatiful moves able to exemplify martial skill-again it is not that important for those who have no interest in such. That is also wonderful.

Form alone can nevr build martial application (I am only speaking to those who feel or have been told that it does). What builds martial application (again for those seeking skill) is the employment of peng, lu ji an kao etc with elements of tui shou, san shou, and shuaijiao with the context of the form.

You are absolutely right-slow or fast form naver builds martial skill (again-the issue is for those who seek this part of training, which is about 3-5% of practitioners).
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Nov 24, 2003 8:44 pm

Dorshugla:
There are not too many these days who seek out the martial for the sake of the martial, I'll give you that.
However, I still believe that unless you can accurately perform the form and apply the skills that you are gaining almost no benefit from TCC. To know you are doing these things correctly you must test this by performing the moves with their full martial intent.
This does not mean you must be able to defeat opponents of legendary prowess without breaking a sweat. What I'm saying is that if you can't prove your TCC ability by applying the skills to the forms, then you are not getting the full health benefit.
In my opinion, and they way the Wu family trained me (which is where my opinion comes from on this), is that without the skills you are merely doing a slow dance without music.
Is there health benefit to this? Of course. Dancing is very healthy. It is not, however, as good for overall health and longevity as genuine TCC practice.
As far as the visual impact of the form? I have taught students who looked like dying rhinocerous when doing their forms that could apply the skills at a level that astounded me. I have taught students who looked like prima ballerina's, but who couldn't apply the skills to save their lives.
As far as I know visually beautiful forms are not a requirment for either the martial or the health.
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:30 pm

wushuer,

We seem to agree (using tui shou as metaphor). I love Wu (Jianquan) style as I age gracefully. Its essence is dissolving qi and blood stagnation and relieviving "kidney congestion" (metaphor again-not actual kidney, thought it may) but energetic of the organ.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:50 pm

Dorshugla:
In case you haven't noticed, I too love the Wu Chien Chuan form.
I am, however, thoroughly enjoying the YCF form, for the deep, wide, expansive jing that it engenders.
I am finding that to do the YCF form well is much more difficult than the Wu form, especially when it comes to applying the skills.
Or maybe it's just that it's more difficult for ME, coming over from the Wu style.
Probably, rather than maybe.
I did find a quote today that I just love, about the Wu form. I have no way to put it in context for this thread though. So I'll hang on to it until it comes in handy some day.
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:49 pm

wushuer,
Only deflection to gauge response with good heart.
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:33 am

I think there is a very similar passage in Yang Zhenji's book. I can't put my hands on it at the moment but here is a passage from an interview with Yang Zhenji from a book called Ì«¼«È­ÆæÈËÆ湦 taijiquan qiren qigong Taijiquan, Unusual People of Unusual Ability:

<I>Recalling the atmosphere in which his father Yang Chengfu and elder brother Yang Shouzhong taught taiji, Yang Zhenji said in the past when people studied, they first learned the form, gradually correcting the moves, until the moves became relatively correct, with the hands and feet placed correctly, so that the moves had basically settled into a fixed shape, the route of energy identical, lower body quite stable and only then did they learn push hands. They did not start learning push hands as soon as they started the form, nor did they learn them simultaneously. He believes it's still the same, you must first learn the form well, only starting to learn push hands after reaching a certain level in forms.

Yang Zhenji has run across people who don't want to study the form, or who haven't yet learned it properly, but want to learn push hands. Some even think learning forms is a waste of time. Yang Zhenji believes this attitude is incorrect. Without having spent a considerable amount of time learning the form, if your body does not have the requisite strength (功力 gong li) you cannot push hands. Because at this time your lower body is not stable, the arms cannot ward off others, you can't push, and the moment you encounter the energy of an opponent you'll lean this way and that and fall over.

He has a very crisp way of putting this:

"You can't develop gongfu with push hands. Gongfu is learned from the form, not from pushing. If one could develop gongfu from push hands, our forebears wouldn't have learned form, they would have just learned push hands. But in reality that's not so."

Then what's the use of push hands? Yang Zhenji believes push hands is to train in moving, turning advancing and retreating nimbly as well as grasping the rules for each type of launching (fafang) and trapping (chinna), it is for learning the gongfu of understanding energy (dong jing). But even if you've learned some of the rules, if you lack strength (gong li), it's useless and the minute your arms contact someone else, when they push, if you lack strength (gong li) you cannot deflect it.

The interviewer came to understand in talks with Yang Zhenji that since 1949 he hasn't taught anyone push hands, and has actually pushed very little with anyone, but in 1981 when the head of a Japanese taji association suggested pushing hands with Yang Zhenji, he was able to immediately take control of this person. This was a result of his long time practice of form and deepened strength (gong li), though of course one can't ignore the legacy of excellent push hands passed down in his family. Therefore when Yang Zhenji teaches students he always requires students to learn the form well but some, still lacking in experience and understanding, think he is too conservative and won't teach people push hands or how to fight. He says it's not that he is unwilling but that they still haven't achieved the appropriate level. </I>


[This message has been edited by JerryKarin (edited 11-24-2003).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Nov 25, 2003 3:40 am

Greetings Jerry,

Thanks for sharing your translation of the Yang Zhenji interview. I found a translation I did a while back of the story I had in mind from Yang Zhenji’s book. This also came from an interview, this one with martial arts journalist Yan Hanxiu, who co-authored Yang’s book, _Yang Chengfu Shi Taijiquan_ (1993). This is from pages 249-250:

~~~
THERE ARE NO TRICK MOVES OR SECRET SKILLS.

People learning the form often think that their teacher may be holding back from teaching a unique skill, like the cat teaching a tiger, but withholding the skill of climbing a tree. This is a common mentality. Yang Zhenji has also encountered this type of ‘knowledge seeker.’

On one occasion, a young man came visiting, saying. “Professor Yang, I have no need to learn the whole set -- if you teach me a few trick moves, I won’t practice them openly, but only secretly at night.” When Yang Zhenji heard this he didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. Responding to this youth, he explained that he himself had no trick moves; that one must practice boxing (quan) according to the requirements. Once you have some accomplishment, just in putting out your hand or your foot, you attain practical results. However, no matter what Yang Zhenji said, the young man still did not believe him, saying that he was keeping something to himself, and not willing to teach it. Yang could only shake his head with a forced smile. When some students demanded that Yang Zhenji teach them how to use Taijiquan to fight, Yang Zhenji said, “You attend to your practice, that’s all.” Some students said that Professor Yang was unwilling to teach fighting.

Yang Zhenji stated that he indeed has no trick moves. He has been teaching in the city of Handan [Hebei Province] for over ten years, and from the beginning has sincerely taught people this practice method; he considers that if one proceeds according to the training methods, one will successfully train the unique skills. In training quan there are no shortcuts, and if one were to say there were, it would be to painstakingly train according to the requirements.

Yang Zhenji said, “To say that I don’t teach fighting, well in fact, everything I teach can be applied for fighting.” He brought up an example, saying, “The form Raise Hands is for left and right controlling the wrist, controlling the elbow. Hands Play the Pipa, is upper and lower support the elbow, control the wrist – if you encounter opposition [resistance, dui kang], once you extend your hand, then you could cause a broken wrist or a broken elbow. Is this not fighting? Is this not a trick move? But if you want to apply this, if you’re going to be able to prevail and succeed, you must train hard according to the requirements. To always be wanting some secret trick for fighting, is this also not an indication that one’s motive is not pure? So I tell him it’s useless to exert effort if the effort (jin) is not one unified jin (yige jin)*. You’ll be unable to obtain practical results.

Although Yang Zhenji explains patiently, some people still think that he is holding something back. They think certainly he has plenty of things transmitted in the family that he is unwilling to reveal to people.

Yang Zhenji repeatedly emphasizes, bitter practice brings true knowledge; gongfu comes from bitter practice. Without bitter practice, it comes to nothing, but gongfu will come with training. Then, in push hands, you can follow your heart’s desire, handle the situation with ease. Then, you will be able to control the other party, according to the opponent’s actual situation unconsciously (bu zhi bu jue). This is being able to fight, this is having trick moves.
~~~

*yige jin (one jin) is a favorite expression of Yang Zhenji’s, meaning that one’s strength (jin) is the result of complete integration of movement and intent.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Nov 25, 2003 4:02 am

Found my copy of Yang Zhenji's book. The passage translated above is on page 235.
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:29 am

These are very good articles provided by Jerry and Louis.

I agree fully that form practice is the basis for Taijiquan.

I have been practising form a long time now and believe I will be refining these same movements in structure(gong?) and developping internal strength(gong?) for also a very long time.

If one listen's to oneself then one can know when it is the appropriate time. For myself, I know I am not ready for hands on "Push hands" training.

As said above, until complete mastery of one's own body is acheived through form practise, how can one possibly graduate to learning "Push Hands" with the external interference imposed by an opponent.

Is "gong" an 'internal strength' that grows from accumulation of 'permeation' through practise( as I have heard occurs in the practitionners hands after long years of constant practise), or is it improved, 'correctness' of posture structure(complete integration of movement and intent) which breeds "gong" skill?

Or is it both of these?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-25-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Nov 25, 2003 12:28 pm

Upon further reflection, however, I am not convinced that I could have appreciated those passages earlier with quite the same depth of understanding as I do now, following much mental clarification.

I could have accepted it, but not really understood it.

I find that practise brings insight into thoeries (as most practitioners frequenting this board will attest),

But I also find that theory brings insight into form practise...

(ex) Learning the martial applications enhances intent/yi skills, as opposed to 'repeated', 'fixed', 'unchanging', 'stagnant', 'mentally empty' position structure.

(ex)Being aware of precise locations of jin points assists in proper structure expression...if I am aware of the jin points being manifest in the outer edge of the palm in Tampien then this assists in setting the elbow, armpit and shoulder(if not everything) into correct position(as has been explained to me- thanks Audi).

It must be a tremendous challenge for teachers to balance the two entities of Theory and Practise in instruction, to create a system that caters to all students needs.

The exchange of theory and practice seems, to me, to be an important aspect of the one dynamic of learning Taijiquan.


Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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