Progresssion in taijiquan!

Discussion in 'Chinese Internal Arts : Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Qi' started by Kungfujason, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

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    I am a relative newbie to Chen style taijiquan. So far (~1 year) it's been primarily learning the forms and have not done any partnered drills or training. I was wondering for the "average" student in taijiquan schools, Chen specifically, how soon into the training do you typically get introduced to partner drills, applications or push hands? I would interested to see the range and heat about the various approaches.

    What types of attributes, skills, or milestones do you or your teacher look for before introducing these aspects of training?

    I am looking to get a sense of the progression, particularly of more "martially" oriented (rather than health) practitioners/ schools.

    Thanks!
    Jason
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Depends on the teacher. In many schools, the answer is never. Most schools don't train taiji of any style for actual combative ability. Many claim to do so but in reality they do not. Chen had a reputation for being the "original combat taiji" and many teachers ride that reputation but don't propagate the training for actual fighting ability. They fall into the habit of doing forms and some qi-gong and nothing else. Maybe a bit of push-hands done on erratic and rare intervals and not done very well and only if you pester them, but nowhere near enough to actually become combat-capable.
     
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  3. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    It depends very much on the teacher and the student there is no standard progression
     
  4. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

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    Thanks flying crane and xue sheng for the responses.

    I understand there is not and should not be a standard. That's why I was looking for average (assume this average person regularly attends class and regularly trains on his/her own) or a range. For example, is it more like 1 year or 7 years at perhaps (?) an extreme. that is also why I was also asking what milestones or markers a teacher would look for to consider introducing partnered drills or push hands as well.

    Best,
    Jason
     
  5. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    Looking at the other students in your school, do those with more experience then you do partnered drills and/or push hands? If they do, check with them on how long it took them to get to that point? If not, I would bring it up with your sifu about why no one appears to do any combative drills, and if you're looking for combative taijiquan, you may have to accept that the place you are at may not offer that (even if they claim to).
     
  6. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sure, understood.

    I would say that you first need to establish whether or not your school actually teaches taiji for fighting, or actually fits my description above. That might require some honest discussion with your sifu. Then you can discuss how the training will progress, to build those skills.

    Sorry i can't give you more than that as an answer. My taiji school was as I described so I can't give any other perspective.
     
  7. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

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    Thanks. That is a very reasonable approach, clear communication! I will try that. In part it felt it could be disrespectful as a more traditional teacher might be of the view to trust them to move a student to the next step based on the pace of one's development.

    The teacher also does a lot of private classes where he teaches more applications and push hands, as far as I understand, but other than seeing him demonstrate and being on receiving end when he shows it so we might understand from the form, we don't spend any time on it. Nor have I really seen other students do it.
     
  8. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Senior Master

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    You can just learn the "Chen Taiji power generation method". You can always learn "speed generation" and "application" from other MA styles later on.

    Chen Taiji can be your starting point. It doesn't have to be your finish point.
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    In what area do you live?
     
  10. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

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    Thank you kung fu wang.

    Flying crane - NYC.
     
  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Ok, I don't know anybody there.

    I always caution people about mixing methods from different systems, especially for beginners. Often these methods are built to function within a larger context and methodology. If they are taken out of that context, they don't work well, or even at all. When mixed with other methods, they can cause conflict and may undermine each other.

    It depends on what is being mixed, and how well the person understands what he is doing. It isn't always a problem but it most well can be, and is more likely to be so for a beginner.

    Often people don't even realize what conflicts they have created for themselves by doing some mixing, because they really just don't understand any of it beyond a superficial level. This includes a lot of people who are otherwise "good fighters". Many people get by on raw athleticism and aggression. You can actually be pretty fierce with that. But these people don't really know much, don't have a deeper understanding, and have little to actually teach, especially if a prospective student lacks those same attributes of athleticism and aggression.

    So, that's just for a bit of perspective.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  12. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Senior Master

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    Cross training is not for beginners. It's for someone who has at least 3 years solid training in one MA system - the primary system.

    In CMA, there are 3 CMA systems that's famous in "power generation".

    - Chen Taiji,
    - Baji,
    - XingYi Liu He.

    All 3 styles use "body push/pull limb" method.

    In CMA, there are 2 CMA systems that's famous in "speed generation".

    - preying mantis,
    - Zimen.

    Both styles use "body chase limb" method.

    The "power generation" and "speed generation" contradict to each other. Until you have had your cross training, you will then realize that in the real world, you don't have to pick up black or white. There is something called "grey".

    Chen Taiji is a good CMA system. Many Chen Taiji guys have "knee problem". That's something one should know and try to avoid it.
     
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  13. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    Replying to this now, just as a reminder. I am at work currently, pm me if by tomorrow I haven't sent you a pm.
     
  14. mograph

    mograph Master Black Belt

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    (I'll call the applications/push hands class the "advanced" class.)

    If the other students do not do the advanced stuff in your forms class, I'd imagine that those techniques are not offered in your class. You might be in a forms-only class. If the other techniques are only offered in private lessons, and you can afford to take them, you could ask the instructor if you can take them.

    That would tell you something about how the school works. If the teacher says that you're not ready, that's a good thing, because it means he will not accept you (even for $$) if you're not ready. However, if he does accept you, take the advanced class, but keep an eye on the training. You can probably tell after a little while whether this is right for you. If you are having difficulty, but making some incremental progress, that is probably right, though not easy. However, if the teacher has you do forms in the advanced class, or has you do something boring that nobody else is doing, you might be wasting your time. That said, some of the stuff we do is very boring, but we're actually attempting to groove certain patterns of effort, and we'll only "get it" after a while.

    I hope that helps.
     
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  15. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    To the OP

    Taiji classes vary and can change over the years. My Yang Shifu taught us applications in the "advanced class" and he got into push hands in the beginner class, as long as you had completed the long form. However it was stationary single hand and then possibly stationary 2 hands. Then in advanced you learned additional forms; 2 fast forms, jian form, 2 dao forms and moving push hands. Push hands starts with 3 step then went to 4 corner then to something I call follow step, then to something I called 1 step. Somewhere in there you got to more freestyle, generally after the 3 step and 4 corner. He also incorporated qinna and a bit of Shuaijiao too. However as time went on the personality of the class changed. The old Martial arts war horses that I started with left and more people began to filter in that were only interested in the health benefits of taiji and some of those got offended at any discussion or hint of marital arts in it...some not all. Then the old war horses were gone and I was the only one left and the class was all "for health only" because that is all the students wanted, so that is what my Shifu taught. I would hang out after both beginner and advanced classes and he and I would work on various applications aspects of taijiquan and push hands.

    The point, like my shifu who told me years ago that he had retired from teaching taijiquan, even though he still had classes, because no one really wanted to learn it any longer. I was his last "serious student" So your teacher may know the way to use taiji for martial arts and simply no longer want to teach it, because either no one wants to learn it for that purpose or they do not want to take the time to learn how to use it properly, and it takes a long time to learn that. Can it be useful quicker? yes. But is it tai chi? likely no, it may be effective, but it cold then be a harder style just using taiji forms.

    Talk to your shifu and tell him what you are looking for, but if he is a traditionally trained Chinese guy expect a few things. He may tell you he knows nothing about it just to end the conversation or get rid of you, or see how serious you are. And you should also know a good shifu ALWAYS knows much better than you what you are ready to learn.

    agreed

    On a bit of a side, had a guy tell me he would not teach Sun style to people who had no martial arts background. When I told him I did Xingyiquan he started talking about Sun and showing me stuff too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  16. CrushingFist

    CrushingFist Blue Belt

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    OP, pls PM me I live in Jersey City (5mins from NYC) and I'm originally from NYC.
    I found this school at The New York Chen Tai Chi Chuan Meetup Group (New York, NY) | Meetup so Yesterday I went to try a 2hr Group Class from Traditional Chen style Taiji from Master Yu, Guo-Shun in Chinatown In his Group lesson subjects he lists..

    Main Focus, For learning basic training methods and traditional form routines, receiving corrections for postures and movements, and understanding SIMPLE MARTIAL APPLICATIONS.
    Lao Jia Yi Lu (old Frame 1st Form) & Er Lu (2nd Form)
    Xin Jia Yi Lu (New Frame 1st form)
    Tai Chi Broad Sword & Straight Sword Forms
    Tai Chi Praying Mantis
    Tai Chi Kung Fu (Basic training form) and Essential 22-form

    www.youtube.com/YUGUOSHUN
    Yu GuoShun Chen Tai Chi Kung Fu Fitness Center

    I really enjoyed this class as he even assigned 1 of his advanced students to go over the 22 form with us 2 new guys on the side, the advance student would even show us the martial application of each movement and correct posture. Yu, Guo-Shun has a great personality and very happy teaching, comes over everyone and demonstrates proper posture and the martial application how it can be used.

    On Monday I will be going to another school in Chinatown as well to try out a class before I decide whom to go with. This teacher is named Yan Yu and I tried a class about 4yrs ago - Wudang Tai Chi NYC - Reviews - Chinatown - Knickerbocker, NY
     
  17. donald1

    donald1 Senior Master

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    i remember doing push hands not too long after starting. it wasnt in depth at first more a less a basic introduction. doing it with one arm and doing it with two. IMO push hands is one of those love/hate its an interesting aspect to the style but i still get confused. at this point when i do push hands i dont think much of the practical side im just trying to stay relaxed and keep balance. its weird to me cause doing goju ryu they tell you to be TOUGH and STRONG, but in tai chi your relaxed and that feels weird... personally i prefer the forms. tai chi forms and 5 wu xing is what i like about tai chi.
     
  18. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

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    Hi crushingfist,

    Thanks for following up. I would be interested in chatting/ emailing offline with you. Unfortunately I am new to martial talk and can’t seem to figure out how to send a private message! Can someone tell me where to find this feature or can you send me a PM that I can reply to?

    OP
     
  19. Encho

    Encho Yellow Belt

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    Hi kungfujason,

    I think a year in and learning the form is a lot to have on one's plate even if private lessons. I think within the first year a teacher may introduce things to help illustrate a point, or to show an application, I do not think that first year would be heavily concentrated on applications.

    Milestones I guess being able to perform the form at least decent, developing proper leg strength, posture, relaxation it is alot to go over, applications as far as an emphasis would not be wise if the fundamentals are not correctly practiced.

    If you are looking for martial you may have to be more patient when it comes to taijiquan.
    I do not know the relationship with you and your teacher but as xuesheng says a lot of teachers will not teach a student martial as it is a trust issue till they development and know you are not an unworthy student.
    Old school teachers have a different way of doing things than younger generations I think
     
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  20. CrushingFist

    CrushingFist Blue Belt

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    Also to add to OPs question, some schools that do not teach Qigong separately or not starting out with Qigong to warm up the body how bad is this? I noticed from a class I tried 4yrs ago we started off with some slow breathing and then movement compared to another school I tried they didn't do any qigong and my knees were hurting towards end of class. Why some schools wont do Push-Hands or Qigong ?
    Isn't the whole aspect of finding good Taiji is a school that teaches both aspects :)
     

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