It is a normal question but it is also an indication that one is making assumptions without knowing the basis.

What am I talking about?

A very common questions that prospective students like to ask is how long it would take them to learn a form, say of 85 movements like the Yang style long form.

For a person like me with good memory and a learning system I can easily learn it within 6 hours, perhaps even shorter considering some of the sequences are but repeating sequences. An example would be the Cloud Hands sequence which is repeated three times throughout the form.

However, you should note that being able to remember the sequence does not mean that you can do it even remotely properly. In fact, you would probably mis-remember a few things here and there.

So what then is the point of rushing the learning because you end up with 100% quantity and practically 0% quality. For all intent and purposes its like you never learned anything. The only time you would rush the learning is when there is a time constraint imposed.

Some prospective students also assumed that with a similar background they can learn faster. Its like a student with a background in mechanical engineering assuming that they can learn about mechanical vibration easily. The truth is that you would have an easier time learning because you know machines but you would still struggle because there are many topics that are different and some require knowledge that a classroom subject does not teach.

So even if a prospective student has learned Yang style before or even Chen style its almost a sure thing that when they try to learn our Tai Chi style they would flounder. They could imagine that they can easily pick it up. However, when they try it they would realize that even trying to imitate it externally is difficult not to mention trying to grasp the use of intention.

An example which I typically use is to ask the prospective student to show me how he does his Beginning Posture. Then I would ask him to explain why he thinks that what he is doing is correct. The fact that his world famous, medal decked, highly praised master teacher supremo said that his performance is correct is not acceptable because its basically a “teacher says” thing without a traceable basis.

An acceptable explanation would be because physics, biomechanics, kinesiology or the Tai Chi Classics indicate so followed by a citation of the relevant principles, model or concepts. But this is just the software part.

Next up is demonstration of the correctness of the hardware part. This would involve test of structure to take pressure, how structure deals with a force that deforms it, how energy conversion is faciliated by the structure, etc. We can also check balance, stability, ability to generate power, whether power is issued cleanly, ability to clearly separate the intention through simple tests, etc.

The moral here is that when learning something new you should empty your mind otherwise you will have a harder time learning it. If trying to Master Tai Chi Today is so easy then we would not have so many practitioners doing Tai Chi that is way off compliance with the Tai Chi Classics. Its sad but its true.


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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