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Learning movement principals is more important than learning traditional forms

June 2, 2017


I know that a lot of strict Tai Chi and Qigong instructors may argue this point but I don’t mind.   I actually hope they do.

One of the things my students tell me is that they would rather me teach the way I do, for the reasons I do than if I were traditional in my approach.

I teach based on the way I was taught, and over the years have developed a style of my own.  My first sensei had a mixed background and used all his skills in teaching me the principles of movement as he perceived them.  Using those as a starting point, I have, through practice, enhanced my view and use of them.

Why do I say the principle are more important?

Because you use them in life.  Forms are great for practicing however not many people are dedicated enough to spend the hours necessary to become proficient at forms.

I find students want results, something they can use, implement and see application for.

Learning principals and applying them to daily movement is a much quicker way for them to gain enough results to motivate them to continue.

Some will want to learn more, get deeper into form work, and practice form.  For those I teach a few short forms that I use for practice.  I also teach them free form play which I what I truly enjoy.

What do I mean when I say I am not traditional?

I take what I learn, what I see, and what I do and make it my own. I practice and practice and practice and develop a way of doing movements that I am comfortable with and I personally get results from.  I teach what I do, not necessarily what or how I was taught.

After 22 years I have developed what I find is a very good sense of movement based in Tai Chi and Qigong forms.  I do teach forms, but the feel of the movements, always falling back to basic principals comes first. I want my students to feel the nuance of movement, of balance, of  timing and softness which they can apply to any movement they do whether in form or in reaching for their toothbrush.

But don’t you need to study traditional forms to get the right energy?

Ummm, no, not in my view.  If you fall back on principals, you can generate energy, gain benefits and see results from using them in every movement you make.

I use traditional movement, but not in a 100, or 40 Yang, Chen, Sun, Wu or other lineage specific style.   Each of those claim to be the correct way of movement.  I feel that each student, using the principals develops the correct way for their own mind, body and spirit.

Does this mean I find the lineage method wrong, No, not at all,  it us just not right for me or the way I practice and teach.

Do you have any comments or questions on this?  Please feel free to comment.



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