Student Notes – Learning to Master Tai Chi

One point I frequently mention to students is that the key to mastery lies in learning the form or forms.

This would seem to go against what most practitioners know which is that form learning can prove to be pretty useless. Instead, most students find drills and partner work more beneficial.

However, there is something very useful, nay essential that you can learn from a form in a way that knowing tons of drills won’t help as much and that is …….

Cut to earlier this evening when I was in Popular and I saw a book on learning. I browsed through it. Its interesting but should I buy it? Then I read this particular section and OK, I was sold.


What was it that I read?

In Chapter 9 entitled Learning Without Thinking the author pointed out that Adriaan de Groot (you can read de Groot’s biography here), a psychologist and chess master did a series of studies on chess players in the 1960s and found that there was no difference between the way a novice and a master played chess. However, and this is the interesting finding :-

If anything, the masters searched fewer moves than the novices. But they could do one thing the novices could not: memorize a chess position after seeing the board for less than five seconds. One look, and they could reconstruct the arrangement of the pieces precisely, as if they’d taken a mental snapshot.


Yet they saw the chessboard in more meaningful chunks than the novices did. The superior performance of stronger players derives from the ability of those players to encode the position into larger perceptual chunks, each consisting of a familiar configuration of pieces, ….

Did you get the connection between what chess masters can do and the importance of knowing a form well in the quest to Master Tai Chi Today?


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.

2 thoughts on “Student Notes – Learning to Master Tai Chi

  1. Pingback: Student Notes – Learning to Master Tai Chi 2 | Master Tai Chi Today

  2. Pingback: Student Notes – Learning to Master Tai Chi 3 | Master Tai Chi Today

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