View Full Version : Approaches in learning Tai Chi

03-29-2005, 11:44 PM
Which is a better way to learn Tai Chi
(replace learn with teach for teaching)
Learn one posture at a time, move to next one only when is has been mastered.
Learn a set of 5 to 10 postures and movements in 4 to 6 hours. Practise this set until they are mastered.

I prefer approach (b) because it is less boring for me and is fun.

03-30-2005, 12:46 AM
IMHO I would say what ever works the best and appeals most...

Marc Heyvaert
03-30-2005, 01:56 AM
IMO learning TJQ is like walking concentric circles.

When you start you walk the outside circle and you continue on this path until you are ready to jump onto the next path, the next concentric circle. Of course it is just an image...The important bit is that it is not possible to rush things and to force your understanding. So it is not a good thing to concentrate for too long on just one movement or position 'until you get it right'. The learning process for TJQ is not an even 'spiral' where you are taken slowly towards your goal, the centre of the spiral, perfection(?).

I teach a few movements at a time, not even in the 'correct' order. How many depends on the students. Once you can get a couple of movements more or less right it is time to practice, let it sink in, try the techniques separately, etc. Then after some time you will feel that your understanding suddenly reaches a new level. There is often an 'aha erlebnis', the feeling that you suddenly understand something that was there all along and that seems to be very obvious once you discovered it. This is characteristic for 'jumping into the next circle'. The beauty of it is that at the same time you will become aware of new difficulties, elements of the form that you never thought of before and that now seem to offer new challenges, and rais new questions. That is awareness about the next circle.

As far as I know this never stops. I don't expect that I will ever reach the 'centre'.


03-30-2005, 09:18 AM
as has been suggested,you reach a balance between yourself and your students where this is concerned; in the traditional chinese way you would learn one posture per month and only allowed to observe first;i call that teaching from the "inside out",here in the west we practice mostly teaching from the "outside in",showing you several postures and expecting you to perfect them on your own;i personally think a nice balance to be about 3-4 postures per class

03-30-2005, 12:05 PM

There are many factors too numerous to mention. Because I was taught 1-3 postures a session, I prefer that scenario. And that depended on how 'easy' it was for the specific posture(s) to be kept in memory.

Practice was from 90 to 120 minutes per week.
I can only imagine how dificult it is for someone who does post standing today with such 'simple' posture?!!

03-30-2005, 03:14 PM
(as you correctly point out,my selection of 3-4 is a very random number;when you're actually teaching it's probably more like 1-3 depending on difficulty assimilating and memory grasp.
i tend to also include a reintroduction at the next two following classes;class
duration also factors in,if you're teaching 2hrs as opposed to one you can get in more)

04-01-2005, 05:21 AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

The traditional sets are quite long, for example, the Yang 108 style. Wouldn't learning just a couple per week take a long time to learn the entire set?

04-01-2005, 05:54 AM
Kawan- Yes, it does take a while to learn the longer sets. However, there is a lot of repetition in a set like the Yang 108 forms. For example, the sequence "Grasp the Birds Tail" punctuates the set frequently. Once you learn a short set of forms, the transition to a longer set becomes more a matter of learning sequencing (and some new transitions) than learning new forms.

I have been told that you can judge the relative importance set creators attached to particular forms from how many times they appear in the longer sets. From this, you might guess that "Single Whip" or "Brush Knee" were viewed as more valuable to repeat than "High Pat on the Horse" or "Double Wind to the Ears". The reason to practice a set rather than performing individual forms as calistenics is largely a matter of learning the transitions.


04-01-2005, 08:22 AM
some native asians think a little differently about time than we do in the west;time is not important when it comes to transmitting an art;the only thing that matters is that it be done right.

04-01-2005, 08:58 PM
With all the repetition of moves the learning the Yang Long form is not as had as you think. If you first learn a shorter yang form the transition is even easier.

04-01-2005, 09:08 PM
The first 3o moves of the long form is the short form of the Yang Family style. It forms the core and the basics. Normally teachers of the long form teach this form first, the other movements are mainly repetitions or extensions of the basic moves, and a lot easier after you have learnt the short form. Also when you have learnt 24 forms or Pauls short forms it will be easier for you too

I agree with elan

04-03-2005, 07:12 PM