View Full Version : New level of achievement in Tai Chi

04-18-2005, 09:01 PM
I am interested to know how can we know that we have reach a new level in TC after practicing regularly, like in AikiJutsu, I can know it by means of belt level (grading) excuting the waza(techique) smoothly, but in tai Chi I can feel that some minor different when I do starting (JiShi), such as when I raise my hands I can feel something like blood flow down all my finger tips which after about 4 to 5 months, also I feel stronger in my legs which I have problem initially when I push my leg out, I have ask my teacher this question, he just says you will know it as you go on. The question is how do we know that we have reach a new level or is there a level from Lao Jia Yi Lu then proceed to Lao Jia Er Lu?

04-18-2005, 10:36 PM
Your teacher's answer to your question was interesting. "You will know it as you go on" is a good answer to many questions. I got the similar type of answer from my first instructor whenever details were asked. I have since dropped his class :)

04-18-2005, 11:40 PM
this kind of answer i hate
and its seem to be commod in taichi

its sad

04-19-2005, 05:59 AM
sad but true.it could take "two lifetimes" to get your "black belt" in t'ai chi chuan;it's like no other martial art;frustrating isn't it? that's the beauty of it.
some have tried to impose levels and belts on it but they mean nothing,because that's not what it's about.in fact levels,belts and competition go against the core of it's taoist roots.
the saying holds very true in this art that when the "student is ready the teacher will appear",(the teacher in this case being a new level or technique)

04-19-2005, 07:26 AM

Those type of answers do nothing to foster feedback or improvement. Depsite that, the student has to persevere and practice unitl the specific form is second nature.

It is up to the maturity of the student to know him/herself and honestly rated their progression since the teacher is unwilling, unable or incapable of assessing the present level of training/instruction.

for that deficiency, I have resorted to starting at the structural mechanics of posture when I 'correct' students since that is the external presentation of form.

04-20-2005, 12:40 AM
Thanks for the interesting discussion, but I think maybe it's the Eastern culture and in those time people don't ask questions very much. Many of the traditional Taichi teacher that I come to know takes a long time to master one form, like they just do the horse stance for 3 to 6 months and I heard Chen Zheng Lei, Chen Ziao Wang, Zhu Tian Chai and Wang Xi An learn the Lao Jia Yi Lu for 10 years before going to Er Lu, these people learn from the older generation of teacher. Even in my earlier Aikido training, I have the teacher just demostrate the waza and the students just do it, he will walk around and correct them but does not talk very much, I seen some video of the older teacher like Tohei, he just demostrate and does not talk very much either. The newer teachers who are more educated (academically I mean) are more open to questioning. Like my current new teacher, he says if he teaches what the old school are teaching he probably will have no students.

(the one I mention in the first tread is my Yang Style teacher who is a 70 years old woman, quite fierce, I have stop learning Yang style due to my work schedule, but still practice the 24 form which I learn from her)

04-20-2005, 06:19 AM

even though that was the main way of teaching, there are advantages in that if you are learning, you do what the teacher says and stop talking. i have found that students today delight in asking questions but follow through is null. in short, they prefer to talk and not practice. balance is needed.

04-20-2005, 06:03 PM
well I only said i hate this kind of sentance because its easy to give
even a bad instructor can give this to students

only that

taichi is very personal so nobody learn at the same speed
some will do taichi for years and never reach advance level or feel chi

some are more fast

those days taichi are teach mostly as an healing art
so maybe no need to know the more martial things in that

I am asking mysefl????


04-24-2005, 10:02 AM
Think of Tai Chi practice as filling a five-gallon bucket with an eyedropper. It is slow going and takes a long time to accumulate some substantial amount of gain. If you stop for any length of time your accomplishments will evaporate. From day to day you do not notice any progress, but over time you can fill the bucket.

Hope this helps


04-24-2005, 08:54 PM
I think there are a few things involved here. Some already mentioned. When the teacher replies " you will know it as you go on", he/she may be trying to adhere to fundamental Taoist principles. Since TC has Taoist roots, this makes sense. In Taoism, the ultimate goal is to reach "The Tao" or "The Way", and they say similar things, that is, you will know you have made it without anyone telling you. I guess it is similar when you know in your heart you have made or done the correct decision on something.

The other aspect is cultural way of teaching martial arts. My teacher's teacher gave a seminar once and he told us his teacher in China would only show him the form, or parts of it, 3 times at most, and hardly ever make corrections to his form. It was considered disrespectful to ask too many questions. A master would usually only take on a "worthy" student and I suppose it was assumed a worthy student is smart enough to pick up what was taught after 3 times.

And finally, I think the other difference is time. In the past, time was more leisurely. It was normal for martial practitioners to practice forms for 10+ years or more before they would even consider they have learned the basics. Now everyone wants to learn everything as fast as possible (including myself). And everyone wants certificates and belt colors to prove to others of what they can do.

As I have mentioned in previous reply, what really matters is what YOU know you can do. Not what others think you know. In a street fight situation or in a war, what really matters? The color of your belt or the number of stripes on your uniform or that you can survive without harm an attack from an opponent? From a health perspective, what really matters? That TC is really helping your arthritis, back pain, diabetes, etc, or that you haven't reached the master or grand master level yet?

04-29-2005, 08:13 AM

Very, very nicely put. My teacher has told me several times that his teacher very much left him to figure things out for himself from his demonstrations, and he could see him quite rarely when he felt like teaching. He has told me it takes ten years to get any good, but that's fine for me: after a year I feel I'm moving in the right direction, it feels good and it's doing me good.

Elan, what you said reminded of one of those sayings, something about one hair from each of a thousand buffalo - that's probably very badly quoted, but I hope the meaning or reference is clear(ish)! Or that one about increasing something or other by the thickness of a sheet of paper... what's the rush?

04-29-2005, 06:12 PM
My teachers only showed me the movements 3 times and barely corrected. He asked me to observe, repeat and follow him. Chen YIng Jun did the same but because he is younger and lived in Australia for some time, he also knows the WEstern mentality. When I ask questions he laughs and says that he was told like that and never asked questions.

When I have been shown something normally my brain takes some "overnight process" to put it into practice. My teacher and me also came to the conclusion that there were some brains which need slightly more time, maybe just a few hours like mine, but in the end they can perform very well. Videos also support learning. I am only given 3 corrections with the advice to remember them and the feeling I got afterwards. When too many unuseful corrections are given, I will not be able to memorize them and use them as a practice tool. This was something I tried to make clear to one of Paul Lam's Master Trainers(sorry Paul).

I really think you will know your progress as you go on. The first thing I noticed was that my legs became heavy like lead. My teacher said this was a sign that they were relaxed and my qi started to sink to make me rooted like a stable house and not the tower of Pisa.(which is rooted somehow).

A few further discussions with Western and eastern teachers led to following:
We do know and our bodies do tell us when we make progress. We should know ourselves what we can do and what not, what or whether we can teach or not. HOwever, we live in an institutionalized world, in China as well as in the West. This institutionalized environment around us forms our target group when we teach and certificates help THEM to recognize what we can do and what not.

04-29-2005, 07:58 PM
great posts (as usual) but i want to address something fourquet said;he was asking himself how important or possibly relevant the martial side of t'ai chi is these days in relation to practicing for it's health factor only and the answer is vital;in fact if you ever have trouble with the form,it's always good to go back to the martial roots of what you may be having trouble with,it just clears everything up;the martial,health and spiritual factors of t'ai chi are indellibly linked;which means if just one of these aspects is lacking everything else suffers;
grmstr Wm. CC Chen feels that t'ai chi can ONLY be taught properly from a martial perspective;now that doesn't mean that you have to be a martial artist but that you should be aware,understand and practice it from that basis