It is my belief that to successfully learn Tai Chi you should open your mind to creativity. This is because as I pointed out to my student you can intellectually understand what I said but until you can do it you still don’t quite get it. As a teacher it is my job to find ways to make each student understand the teaching. So if this means that I have to go outside the box to make them see the point then so be it.
We must always remember that the form is a means to an end. We must not be so hung up over it until we confuse the means with the end. So if we learn the form it is because it is a convenient, but not the only way to teach key principles. I am not big on doing partner drills because the presence of pressure tends to add unneeded stress to the student trying to learn the movement. But sometimes when all else fails then we should try alternatives.
The transition from Grasp Sparrow’s Tail to Ward-Off is a useful movement that can be applied in many ways. You can use it to diffuse an attack or to use it to attack. Whichever you use is a function of your ability to control your movements.
The ability to control your movements in turn depends on your mastery of the principles of :-
i) Door frame
ii) Door hinge
iii) Control of pivot
iv) Swing angle
vi) Stable movement
We can learn the above using a partner drill if the student fails to catch the principles at play within the sequence of movements in the 108 long form for grasping the tail of the sparrow. Sometimes it may help you to visualize better if you view the picture on the left on page 70, TaijiKinesis Vol 2 – Learning the Taijiquan Form. Alternatively, take a look at the video below :-
If all else fails, then I would suggest the student to go home and view actual examples, then mull on it a bit, forget about it, pick it up a bit later, then put it aside again. Once the unconscious mind has the time to process it the insight should come. Just don’t force it. Creativity works best when you are not trying to push it through. Or as they say sometimes sleeping on it or even taking a hot shower can trigger an awakening. I guess this is one of the interesting things about our journey to Master Tai Chi Today.
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.