REAL TAI CHI VIDEO RENEGADES
We are opening our doors to guest contributors…this first one takes you through learning Tai chi by video. The Tai chi videos referred to are from the extensive life work of Erle Montaigue that are available from Moontagu Publishers…we will give links to previews on Youtube for your convenience. We hope you enjoy some new Blood…(Editor)
There are many of us around the world that don’t have access to a taiji teacher on a regular basis. For many taiji renegades, we rely on DVD’s to learn and expand our understanding of our art. I used to think that this was a double-edged sword, but now I realise that one can have all the DVD’s they could watch, but it won’t do much if they can’t understand how to use them to learn from.
WHAT?? Don’t you just put a DVD into the player and press play and follow along? In my experience, that is probably the worst way to do it. In a class setting, that is fine because the person showing you is right there and can correct things on the fly. When that isn’t the case, we need to slow things down a bit.
The first thing I will always do is sit and watch the DVD completely BEFORE I do anything else. For me, I feel it is vital to have an idea about where you are going with the DVD before you start because remember; you are controlling your own path, so to speak. While Moontagu DVD’s are extremely thorough, the big picture is still important to have before you begin. In a class situation, we hand that responsibility over to our teacher. I hope that makes sense.
The next thing is to take your time. With respect to Moontagu titles, many of the DVD’s are broken up into segments that were filmed on many different days. It is a good practice to follow suit (when their clothes change, stop!). On other DVD’s, where they just go on (like MTG2), learn no more than 3 new postures at a time (like Erle taught). Going too fast can cause confusion and actually slow down the whole learning process (trust me! I learned this the hard way).
I have found that the ability to make your body do what your eyes see is a learned skill, especially in the internal arts. I invested a HUGE amount of time learning on my own WHILE I was learning my first art, karate. I would literally figure out some sequence from a book or video, and then I would get it corrected by my teachers. It was easy for me as I had about 8 teachers at the time (in one school). What I was doing was teaching my eyes and body to work together. If you haven’t spent the time, a mirror is a great tool. Recently, I have found a video recording device (camcorder or a webcam on a computer) to be invaluable. Being able to do the movement without checking over your shoulder is life changing!
I could go on, but I want to hit the important points. This last one is so very important, and is ignored by almost all of us without regular contact with a teacher. Simply, “YOU AREN’T AS GOOD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE!” Ok, that isn’t meant to be harsh. It is meant to point out that, if you have been doing taiji for 6 months and you “feel” you are ready for small frame form, you probably aren’t. I used the excuse that I had over 20 years of martial arts training under my belt (literally, and it was black), so this taiji stuff was going to be easy. I was wrong.
I got caught up in the “To the Max”-series, telling myself I only wanted to see the applications.. YEAH RIGHT!! It was pointed out to me recently that anyone can FAKE the feeling of sung if they are moving their arms only a few inches (like the beginning of that Luchan to the Max form). It isn’t real though. Sure enough, I went back to work on the Foundation form and found that, at the level where I am at, the bigger movements work better (after 8 years of working on my own, and making all the mistakes). In fact, I have actually noticed a substantial improvement in my taiji over the last 2 months than I have noticed over the past 5 years.
The other day, I came across a YouTube video of a mate doing the form at a To the Max level, but he is also having issues with other, more basic things. This is a sure indicator that he moved too fast and is not ready for that version of the form. In the beginning, bigger is better (I know mate, but I said IN THE BEGINNING!). We tell our children to enjoy youth, to not be in a hurry to grow up. Why do we forget that in our art?
Tai Chi Video Learning Guide
- Watch Video 1st Time fully – like you would a TV episode
- Take your Time – learn a few moves well before moving on
- Take Breaks – give yourself time for it to sink in
- Start at the Beginning Please – Don’t jump ahead of yourself
- It is important so we will say it again – BEGINNER Videos to start with!!!
- Stick with “BIG” moves for a considerable time
- Go over your Old collection and find the Pearls you missed
- Enjoy yourself – don’t make it a job
If you are learning the Old Yang style on your own, dust off that copy of MTG2 and watch it. Try to feel sung at that frame. If you can, then you are really getting somewhere. Better yet, get your hands on the “Luchan Correction” series and learn it in detail. Practice that frame for a few years without fail. That is the foundation. Besides, doing it this way, you will distinguish yourself from the rest of the DVD players and be a real Taichirenegade!