Where to start?

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kg6cig
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Where to start?

Post by kg6cig » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:41 pm

Hey all-

I am looking to incorporate Tai Chi into my workout routine. I'm not sure where to start, and I hope that a little information will help folx point me in the right direction.

I am a student of der Kunst des Fechtens, a German Medieval martial art. I am not looking for another combat system; I'm very happy with KdF. But I do need an exercise routine. I'm currently using the Budokon system from Gaiam and Cameron Shayne. It has three parts: yoga first, followed by a martial arts workout (punches, kicks, etc) followed by by a brief qigong meditation.

I'd like to add a Tai Chi section towards the end, and, being me, I would like that to be a sword form. However, if the weather is inclement, I need to be able to take the workout indoors, and then the sword will have to be dispensed with (Low ceilings+tall man=raining plaster, dontcha know). I am aware that typically one learns hand forms first- what I'm trying to determine is if the Yang hand form translates directly to the Yang sword form, for example.

So, I'm looking for a form that is largely similar between the hand form and the sword form. Ideally, it should be something that, if needed, can be "shrunk down" to a fairly small living room.

Thoughts?

Regards,

Joseph

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Where to start?

Post by Linda Heenan » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:49 am

Hello Joseph. Taijiquan is the sort of art that you can do without adding anything else, for a lifetime. The system we train in is a complete system and yes, the emptyhand skills do back up, or prepare for, the swords skills. Everything helps everything else. For example, I was teaching a class today how to do rollback in the emptyhand system and how it is so similar to the mo, sword deflection they are already quite familiar with. Over here, people are more likely to train in sword first and then learn emptyhand. Most people do it the other way around though.

The jian form would be great to learn if you can find a way to do that. It's pouring rain today and we trained in the house. Most of our students are still quite short, with the majority of them being 12-14 years of age. So we trained with wooden swords today. When I feel cramped for room, I often just use a kitchen knife or a ruler to do my form. It works well enough and makes me more conscious of the stepping and body mechanics rather than the sword. I think it all helps with training.

I do a few European sword styles when I have the opportunity, including some German longsword. This system takes most of my time though so I don't diverge too much.
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kg6cig
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Re: Where to start?

Post by kg6cig » Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:35 am

Linda-

That's very much what I thought. I have given some thought to getting one of the short (as in, knife length)- well, I don't know what you call them, mini-jian. There are some that are letter openers, but some that have a decent length handle.

So, where to start (to repeat my earliest question)? I have Scott's video, and while excellent it's obviously not helpful for learning the form per se. I'd actually like to learn the Yang style forms, both public and Michuan, just to have some variety. But I don't have a teacher in the area and I don't know who has good products WRT DVD's. I know that there's only so far you can go with DVDs, but I will have to start there. So, whose do I buy? Dr. Yang has a DVD on Classical Yang sword- is that the same as the public form? And, while Dr. Yang is certainly one of the preeminent practitioners and teachers, it's still quite possible that his DVD sucks.

The problem is, I wouldn't know the difference. If you show me an DVD of, say, Paulas Kal's longsword, I can tell you straight off if this is useful to learn from. Tai Chi? Not a clue. So I'm hoping somebody- preferably several somebodies- will say "buy this DVD until you can get to a seminar."

Any thoughts?

Regards,

Joseph

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Where to start?

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:07 pm

Which DVD do you have? I started my training by learning the basic cuts from the Applications DVD. I put in 140 hours just working on those. Next I learnt the jian form from the Estonian Sword Festival 2002 DVD and the pictures and descriptions in the Chineses Swordsmanship book. I trained alone for 14 months, with some online help.

I got the jian form learnt fairly well that way and have been touching it up ever since. We studied jian form with Scott Laoshi at a seminar here in Australia, but other than that, no more training on sword form but lots on swordsmanship. I'm a very slow learner owing to not being able to translate the movements other people make, to my own body. I can't watch someone do a movement and copy if it has more than one limb changing position. So every movement from the DVD took me at least 10 hours to add to the form. You'll be faster than that :). I performed the first 4 sections of the jian form at the National Open tai chi competition a couple of weeks ago, so you can learn this way. Then find a seminar where it is being taught and touch it up.
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J HepworthYoung
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Re: Where to start?

Post by J HepworthYoung » Wed Aug 11, 2010 10:48 am

others who know better will likely disagree eh?
But my advice is to find a teacher who can help you learn the feeling of the motions, something DVD's and books can't do.
I did basic cuts for a long time,
then studied the principals of the art through form and stance training and instruction
and found that all my previous basic cut work built bad habits
I had to start over.
Now DVD's and Book's are useful tools, but i've found that they were not enough, by themselves, for me, to be able to obtain a working understanding of the physical principals of the 8 energies.
I have also seen a large number of videos and read just about every word I can find about Taiji, and having done that and spoken with many people I think that one must be cautious about what they expect from taijiquan, it is better to not have any preconception and to just practice the basics slowly under supervision and proceed from there, that it is to try to fill some expectations with earnest but overeager and over imaginative study.
The stance training is where it is at by the way, if you want to prepare to become highly skilled. Stance training is also easy to learn how to do via DVD and Book.

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Re: Where to start?

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:34 am

J HepworthYoung wrote:... my advice is to find a teacher who can help you learn the feeling of the motions, something DVD's and books can't do... DVD's and Book's are useful tools, but i've found that they were not enough, by themselves...
It is the 21st century, so you can certainly make good use of a few books (most are unfortunately not worth the paper they have been printed on) & some DVDs. But they are best used as supplements to class instruction from a qualified teacher. If there isn't a good teacher in your area, I suggest, no excuses, you get off you ass & travel to where there is. Sorry, I don't mean to single you out. But I've been in this art for more than 30 years & often hear from people who really, really want to learn taijiquan or the sword art. That is, so long as it is within easy driving distance on a convenient weekday evening, that is also agreeable to the spouse. Arts like taijiquan can be tools that totally change your life. If there is no good local teacher, use you vacation time & travel to a week long seminar. If you are in Europe, contact Anne Likold in this forum & see when the next Tallinn seminars are. If you can't find a seminar that you can make, then create one at home. Host a seminar & bring a teacher to you.

In China, if you say you want to reach a high level, you'll be asked, "if you can eat bitter?' If you want a treasure, be prepared to spend lots of time, money, & sweat attaining it.

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