Student Notes – Don’t Write It Down

This was a first. My student suddenly stopped and started walking to the chair. He said he wanted to write it down.

I said no, don’t write it down. My reasoning is that by writing down he will just end up with a thick wad of notes that will end up being a pile of junk. Instead, its better to just listen, then try to practice it and in time when he masters the principles he will automatically remember them.

He thought that he would forget more so since I have told him a lot of things which I suspected more than 90% is above his understanding. But if I thought notes are important I would rather write them myself or even film many videos to explain as much as possible.

For example TaijiKinesis 2 : Learning the Taijiquan Form available here is my attempt to present a linear narrative on how to learn the first form that I teach replete with principles, detailed instructions and usage examples. It does not cover everything, in fact not even 10% of what I typically teach.

But then what is in TaijiKinesis Vol 2 is already more than enough for most readers to digest though the typical reader might think they understand it somewhat. However, once they actually see the teachings presented in real life especially after they attempted it then they will realize that even this smaller percentage is difficult material. An example would be my buddy Paul from the USA who came by last year. You can read the posts I wrote about his visit here :-

i) Paul Learns Tai Chi – Day 1

ii) Paul Learns Tai Chi – Day 2

iii) Paul Learns Tai Chi – Day 3

Coming back to my student, the whole thing started when I watched him perform Brush Knee, Twist Step and I said it was wrong. I know if a normal person were to see him do the form it would seem to be a good performance. But to me the principles just weren’t right.

Before you go thinking mmmmm ….. maybe the student is not terribly bright let me say that he is a much smarter person than me, with good coordination and fairly relaxed in his movements except for some funny reason when it comes to Tai Chi. Take a look at his performance of a baguazhang form from his wushu days more than a decade ago. He says its not that good but I say for most viewers it is not that bad, much better than what I can do anyway at that time.

Anyway, coming back to the subject – so I explained what was the right way to do it and more important why do it the way we do, how this relates to how we use Tai Chi and the skills behind this different way of doing the form.

I had a problem with the way he brought up the palm and forward into a strike. The coordination and integration between arm and body was there but it was too rigid and would be nearly useless in push hands. Our method has a strategy behind it particularly to lure and trap the opponent.

To train this strategy requires mastery of movements performed in a specific manner. Amongst the specifics include how to move in a triangle manner without losing the circle. Most of time if you observe Tai Chi practitioners they tend to have lots of roundness but hardly any triangle shape. Yet, as Cheng Man Ching pointed out in his book below in the chapter on physics a rotating triangle gives rise to a circle.

cmcFulfilling this principle is important. Why? And more importantly, how does one do this exactly? This is but one of the many principles we study in the first long form.

Sometimes, the principles don’t make sense but the moment the student learns push hands particularly in the manner of studying a game plan then everything will fall into place.

This is why To Master Tai Chi Today never, ever ignore the principles. Knowing what they are is useless until you translate the principles into practice and extend them into a usable skill is one of the important keys to mastering Tai Chi.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

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