At Central Tai Chi, we teach Tai Chi Yang Form. This question about Yang Style Tai Chi Long Form is something I get asked time and again, and it’s an entirely natural part of the learning process. If you want to know something but don’t feel able to ask in class / think it’s too silly / would like a different viewpoint – just ask me. Drop me a note via Steve or ask in person.
So then, why can’t you remember the Yang Tai Chi form?
There are two reasons for this.
- Tai Chi Yang Style Long Form is genuinely difficult to remember. If it’s any consolation, even the Chinese struggle with it – hence all the odd-sounding names for the postures.
- You forget because you don’t practise. You are now protesting that it is the other way around – you can’t practise because you can’t remember what you are supposed to be doing. It is a fact that, if you get up and do a bit, the long-form tai chi yang style will begin to come back to you. If you can do 45 to 60 seconds of practice when you get home from class, most things will stick reasonably well. Keep doing it two or three times per day (you can find 45 seconds occasionally in your day) and missing bits will suddenly reappear. It won’t be perfect or necessarily complete, but it will be something. The idea of learning Tai Chi is to be able to do Tai Chi. Doing Tai Chi means standing up and moving about.
Which leads me on to another frequently posited question regarding long form tai chi yang style.
“Why don’t we learn the breathing pattern along with the movements of the Yang tai chi form?”
In basic Chi Kung exercises you can, because the movements are relatively simple and are performed over and over again. This makes it easy to coordinate with your breathing. The Tai Form Yang Style, on the other hand, is complex and has many layers. Most people prefer to have something to practise that feels like the film they saw or what they have seen someone else do. Before you read on, pay attention to your breathing for a minute or so…you almost certainly changed the way that you breathe – you slowed down or tried to breathe more deeply. Many things that you know or half know about your diaphragm or breath control or meditation crowded into your mind.
The way that you breathe depends upon the activity: marathon running requires a different approach from swimming or singing. Tai Chi Yang Style Long Form is different again and it takes time to adjust to what may feel quite alien or go against any preconceived ideas that you have. The same applies to the quality of movement. Think of the way Yang Style Tai Chi Long-form principles differ from Ballet or Weight-lifting for example. With the best will in the world, it is next to impossible to learn all this at once, so Yang tai chi form is normally learned one level at a time. First, we learn the basic sequence and become accustomed to a few of the underlying principles like the turning of the waist, centring of the wrists and so on. Later, once the basic sequence is mastered, it becomes possible to think about co-ordinating movement and breathing.
All of this is just a long-winded way of saying “Are you stark staring mad? It’s hard enough as it is.”
For further questions about Tai Chi Form Yang Style or any aspect of tai chi, just email firstname.lastname@example.org.