With the popularity of Tai Chi Chuan,
the quality of students is diverse and the comments and complains from students
are increasing. It does not matter who the students are, the theme is the same;
it is difficult to remember the Solo Form.
After three decades of involvement in Tai Chi Chuan as a student as well as
an instructor, I observed that successful students have their methods and
techniques to remember the creative Solo Form. Here are some of them.
Many movements in the Solo Form have a very unique and distinctive
names which can be classified into three groups.
- The name describes the movements: e.g. Brush Knee, Twist Step, Cross Hands,
Single Whip, Lower the Body. etc.
- The name describes the movements as a defensive and offensive martial
application: e.g. Step Forward Intercept, Parry and Punch, Brush Knee and Punch
Downward, Hit Tiger. etc.
- The name is associated with an animal such as White Crane Spreads its
Wing, Retreat and Ride the Tiger, Wild Horse Parts Its Mane. etc.
When one remembers the names of the movements, one will better understand the
mechanics of the movements. e.g. Left Brush Knee and Twist Step means the left
foot steps forward, left hand brushes the left knee downward, and the right palm
2. Offensive and Defensive Movement
Although the movements are slow
and relaxed, each movement has its value as a defensive or offensive maneuver.
This is especially important for those practitioners who treat Tai Chi Chuan as
a martial art. Many times the student does not fully understand the practical
value of the movement and is not able to execute the movement correctly.
Therefore, although there are multiple applications in each movement, if the
instructor correctly interprets the application of the movement, the student
will quickly understand the movement or try to understand and perfect the
From the name, one can imagine the movement. For
example, in White Crane Spread its Wing, one can visualize the crane has an
upright body, chest relaxed, one arm going up and the other going down, and the
body's weight is on one foot. Remember, this technique also helps the students
to increase their creativity and master some of the more difficult movement.
4. Number or digital
Since Tai Chi Chuan has so many unique and
distinctive names, to remember all the names themselves is already a difficult
task. One can substitute the name with a number. Therefore, one can assign a
number corresponding to one movement and some time one movement divided into number
of moves. This is a perfect method for students who are good with numbers.
Tai Chi Chuan is the art of balance and there are many
people who are interested because of its benefit in balance. In each movement,
left always goes with right, top always goes with bottom and front with back. If
one can incorporate this concept of balance in learning, one will comprehend the
Solo Form quickly.
Tai Chi Chuan's Solo Form is composed of a series of
circular movements. One can practice each circular movement or a number of
circular movements in each lesson repeatedly until familiar and understood. e.g.
One can practice the Part the Wild Horse's Mane repeatedly to better understand
7. competition and Demonstration
Competition and demonstration
encourage the practitioner to better himself and achieve higher skill. This is
so because the situation requires the practitioner to be serious, the movement
has to be perfect and correctly executed. Therefore, if a student practices
regularly under these conditions, one will excel to a higher level.
When a student is in a comfortable environment, he
will perform better. This association applies to many things in life as well. Seek
a good place for your practice. A space in the house or in the park is a great
help. To be comfortable, the first criterion is to achieve serenity. The most
common way to relax is to take a deep breath.
Tai Chi Chuan is one of the physical activities that
involves two steps to remember. Knowing how to do it intellectually is not
enough; a correct understanding requires a student to know it physically as well as
intellectually. Many students do not remember the lesson the next day because
they do not practice or do not practice enough. In order to remember, one must
transfer the information from short term to long term memory with practice.
When students help each other, they are able to remember
the movements better. This method of group support provides a comfortable
environment. Every student is at the same level so that they can share their
experiences and understanding about each movement and help each other. In
other words, they have the same level of communication.
The traditional method of teaching Tai Chi Chuan was done on a one on one
basis by the instructor. Time is not an issue so that a student can master one
movement as a time so that the quality remained. However, this method of
teaching is too slow for today's fast paced students. Although Tai Chi Chuan
instructors had been compromised with this fast pace, high stress society with a
shorter and simpler Solo Form, students still find it difficult to remember and
execute the Solo Form correctly. If a student utilizes the ten methods described
above in remembering the Solo Form, he should be successful.
Article By Vincent Chu