Progresssion in taijiquan!

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

  1. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Usa
    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 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,911
    Likes Received:
    1,212
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    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.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Messages:
    25,909
    Likes Received:
    3,094
    Trophy Points:
    308
    Location:
    North American Tectonic Plate
    It depends very much on the teacher and the student there is no standard progression
     
  4. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Usa
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    2,395
    Likes Received:
    514
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    New York
    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 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,911
    Likes Received:
    1,212
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    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

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Usa
    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

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    1,028
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
    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 Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,911
    Likes Received:
    1,212
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    In what area do you live?
     
  10. Kungfujason

    Kungfujason White Belt

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Location:
    Usa
    Thank you kung fu wang.

    Flying crane - NYC.
     
  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,911
    Likes Received:
    1,212
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    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

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    1,028
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
    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.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  13. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
    Messages:
    2,395
    Likes Received:
    514
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    New York
    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

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,340
    Likes Received:
    405
    Trophy Points:
    123
    (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.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Messages:
    25,909
    Likes Received:
    3,094
    Trophy Points:
    308
    Location:
    North American Tectonic Plate
    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
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1

Share This Page