449 Failures

Learning Tai Chi is not a walk in the park. Each movement is made up of sub-movements that are often taught as one major movement. Some sub-movements are easy to pick up but many are difficult to “see” clearly.

For example, in performing Grasp Sparrow’s Tail the right arm is turned in before going up and out as shown below :-


It is a pretty straightforward movement as far as I can see it but interestingly not as easy for a student to duplicate. Why would this be so? Could a weaker ability to visualize a movement in space be the culprit?

In application, this movement is used as a defensive movement before changing into an attacking movement. An example is shown below :-

GST-Sub 2

You can see from the photo sequence that the circular movement is used to prevent my student from jamming my right arm. When his balance is overextended and he stepped back to regain his balance I followed and entered his space.

Understanding an example of application can help to learn the movement but keep in mind this is but one way to use it. When playing push hands there many more ways this movement can be applied depending on your position relative to the opponent. This is why it is important to know the principles and not just the movement. The theory behind this movement can be found on page 113, TaijiKinesis Vol 2 : Learning the Taijiquan Form.

This is why sometimes taking the time to understand the principles that underlie this movement is worthwhile in the long term. Sure, you cannot see it right away but then who can? In a recent post here I mentioned the book Black Box Thinking : The Surprising Truth About Success (and Why Some People Never Learn From Their Mistakes). In chapter 7 The Nozzle Paradox there is a story of how Unilever turned to a team of top mathematicians to solve a nozzle problem but they failed to do so. Unilever next turned to a team of biologists who were not familiar with fluid dynamics. They managed to solve the problem after 449 failures!

So to Master Tai Chi Today one must persist, never giving up, plugging at it day in, day out until one finally arrives, the first of many small victories.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Tai Chi Yang Style (TaijiKinesis) 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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