Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Combined Taichi

Combine all Taiji postures into one form

I think of myself as a fan of the Yang family style, but in reality that is the branch with which I am most familiar. I also like the Beijing (24) form. So my question to those that are familiar with two or more styles, is:

Where and how would you combine the elements from one style into the other?

I imagine starting with the Beijing form and then adding the missing elements from the Chen, and then the Wu, (and lets face it - Bagua while we are at it; yes I am saying that Wu contains some Bagua). Then anything that is left from the Sun/Shoon, (even more Bagua plus Xingyi), and Wu/Hao styles, (and even the missing elements from the Yang style long-form). This would produce a medium length empty hand form of between fifty and seventy movements.

Start at the beginning!

The reason that I would not start with the Chen form and add the others, (despite Chen being the original) is that a lot of work went into condensing the Yang long-form from about 85, (108 if you like) movements down to 24. 

What would be the benefit of this?

Despite this thought experiment basically recreating the 42 (competition) form, or the history of Sun/Shoon style, I feel that analysis of the benefits of taichi [0] would be helped if we created a form that not only flowed from one posture to the other but over the course of the form it also flowed in and out of upright and inclined and from large frame to compact, (though not necessarily in that order, and probably changing every three or four postures.)

Xingyi < Bagua < Taichi

If that idea isn't contentious enough, I would also postulate that, as with Sun/Shoon that evolved from a person that had already learnt Xingyi and Bagua, (and despite that being the direction of evolution), (from Xingyi to Bagua to Taichi - how many practitioners of Bagua will be inflamed by the idea that Taichi is more evolved that their system? ;-) ) an individual may be the result of evolution but it is not hampered by the past. Put another way, those elements that are superfluous can be replaced by those that are superior; and by starting from Taichi and only adding the most distilled parts from the past we will not end up rejecting the past simply because it is older.

I'm comparing apples and oranges?

Most people will benefit from learning the Beijing form; this and Yang style are the most popular over the world. The other branches focus more on martial application. If you have steam coming out of your ears or find yourself shouting at the screen, "c does not imply causation" and Yang style is a fighting style then you are in agreement with all the masters. The only argument that feels valid, in regards to the differences between the branches is that a particular frame may match your athletic abilities and body morphology. 

"Taichi does not require a warm-up"

I often use some Qigong as a warm-up before I do one of the forms. When I learnt a short-form from a nice chap called Ian, (in London) we often did a particular qigong before working on the form. I can picture some of that qigong, but I don't remember it. With that frustration I asked on a Tao forum if anyone had been in those lessons or had any idea what it might be. One of the first responses, (how ever well meaning it might have been) was along the lines, "Taichi does not require a warm-up". I was amused that they had totally missed the point of my question, despite the validity, (or otherwise) of their response. If we added Qigong to the start of the form, (8 piece of brocade?) then we could be sure that it did not require a warm up. 

Has this idea got any legs? (Would it work?) The answer is probably not, but analysing how to combine styles is probably a good experiment for the more advanced practitioners. You can add your list of moves or stories of success in the comments.

[0] After the death of each Taichi master, I wonder what they died from, how long they lived and the quality of their last ten years. There should really be a table somewhere.

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