One key to improving our practice of Tai Chi is to never overlook the small details.
Most practitioners can play the form somewhat reasonably well until they come to the small details. This is where the amount of training put in and the attention paid to details separates the novice from the expert.
I looked at my student playing the form and I see the same mistake again despite having bringing it to his attention a few times in the past. After he finished with his form play I said that he knew what to do but he is not aware that he is not doing it because like it or not the intent has gone missing.
If a small detail can be missed out then you can bet many more details will go missing too. And so it is too. It is as if he has never been corrected. This is the way to never improve.
We trained push hands. Got his right arm pressed against his body and instantly he tried to force his way up and out. This was not a good response because it just created a different opening and he had still not resolved the question of how to counter properly.
Basically, he is reacting without considering the consequences. It is as if he has never learned the form because his counter was not measured and controlled. I asked him why he reacted that way and he thought that was the only way he could get free. I said no, that way only opened more avenues for me to continue attacking.
I showed him a much simpler, direct and effective response which is straight out of the form. I used Hit Tiger and he couldn’t even react to it because well his hands were over-committed.
I got him to try it but he could not control his movement and created an opening for me to respond to. This is a symptom of moving for no reason. It is also a sign of not practicing the form enough.
A good sign of having practiced the form is when the responses come naturally with just the right amount of movement and strength. The disease of moving but not knowing whether the extra movements are necessary or not is common to beginners.
This is why one must pay careful attention to form practice. Do not just move for the sake of moving. Follow procedures for each movement then you will not go wrong.