CHEN TAIJIQUAN (Tai Chi Chuan) SYLLABUS
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak we are not able to teach the full range of classes, so Shifu Liu is focussed on the most important aspects of training, Chen Foundation, the 19 Chen Form, and Laojia Yi Lu and Laojia Er, the Chen traditional Old Frames 1 and 2. We are now introducing some weapons training at some of the workshops, see the Calendar page.
Beginners Foundation and General level Forms:
• Foundation Chen Tai Ji classes and workshops: Standing and Silk Reeling tai chi qi gong practice (for all levels, but especially beginners and new students).
• 9 Step Form (sometimes taught in Foundation or workshops for beginners and new students) or
• Four Direction fist, taught to the left and right directions. Sifang Quan/Si Xiang Gong
• Chen Ziqiang’s Big Frame Form 1, Dajia Yi Lu
• Chen Ziqiang’s Big Frame Form 2, Dajia Er Lu
• 19 Step Form (it is best to have completed 3 months of Foundation training before trying a longer form)
• Two-Person Chen Duan Wei – Short Hand Forms (Learnt individually and then how to use with a partner)
• Push Hands, Tui Shou – two partner training for beginners no contact classes 2022
• 38 Step Form
• Old Frame Long Form One (74 step), Laojia Yi Lu
• Chen 56 Competition Form
• Applications and Techniques class for more experienced students
• Old Frame Form Two, Laojia Er Lu, Cannon Fist or Paochui
• New Frame Long Form One, Xinjia Yi Lu, New Frame
• New Frame Form Two, Xinjia Er Lu, New Frame Cannon Fist
• Power training in some of the more advanced classes
Chen-style Weapon Forms
• Single Sabre (it is sensible to have experience of practicing Foundation hand-forms or Laojia Yi Lu prior to starting Single Sabre Form)
• Fan Form: Taiji fan is part of the Taiji weapon series. The form is based on the foundation practice incorporating the characteristic techniques of the Taiji sword form. The practice is aimed at improving health, enhancing coordination and balance.
• Single Sword
• Eyebrow Short Staff
• Double Sabres
• Long Spear Short Form
Buying a weapon such as a tai chi sword: their are several websites such as Taichilink which supply tai chi weapons in the UK
• Cheaper swords are fine to buy for regular practice, the tai chi sword has a softer tip to learn to express ‘fajin’ through the body to the sword tip
• The ‘Longquan’ sword is competition standard is well balanced and of good quality and more expensive.
• The length of sword should be from when your hand is down beside the leg holding the sword hilt, the tip should be beside your ear.
• Always carry your sword/scabbard in a proper case if you are travelling on public transport.
Chen-style Tai Ji Ball Form
For all levels
Chen Tai Ji Ball form has two principles of practice:-
• Aim to keep the ball moving all the time, the way the ball moves reflects your body movement
• Use silk reeling/Chansi Gong techniques when practicing the routine
Hold the ball on the palm without bending the fingers to grasp it. Use the body to move the ball, and the ball is supported by the weight on the opposite leg to the side it is being held. When accustomed to the routine you can use a weighted ball with weight up to one kilo.
Push Hands, Tui Shou two partner training
Martial Applications and Techniques sometimes taught with Push Hands or with Chen hand forms in specific workshops at a higher level.
Two-Person Chen-style Applications Form from Duan Wei system, first taught individually (currently no classes)
Techniques for learning tai chi
Learning tai ji quan is a mix of external and internal awareness, most importantly in class, watch closely and copy exactly the teacher’s movements (don’t close the eyes except in Standing Post). Slowly, keeping a calm mind by relaxing nerves, muscles and ligaments, the body begins to relax and open up to let your energy flow more freely.
• An important component of learning tai ji with TJC is Shifu Liu’s valuable adjustments to postural alignment, which take place during classes when students are held in a single position. It is key to training practice to remember the postural adjustment that the master has made.
• Patience and perseverance are the most important qualities in improving your practice, through constant repetition, until the body naturally flows from one movement to another with ease and grace.
• Self practice is the only way to make progress working from Foundation silk reeling to memorising forms. Remember whatever you can to make a habit of practice everyday.
A ‘form’ or routine is a sequence of linked movements that create a continuous flowing exercise that applies the silk reeling movements and principles (taught in Foundation classes) in action. Because routines are practiced as a continuous sequence, once they are memorised, they allow the mind to relax and the body to start moving more freely. It takes time and constant practice to refine the postures and movements of each form that slowly builds strength and understanding of the martial applications contained within the movements.
Some of the weapons forms are taught during workshops for self practice at home. Our syllabus is too large to include every form in regular classes, so we concentrate on the most important.
Time required to learn basic forms at each level (approx)
• Foundation Beginners classes – suggested minimum 1 term required, repeating the Foundation classes until the movements are comfortable and familiar
• 9 part Form and 4 Direction Fist approx 1 term
• Forms Dajia Yi and Er Lu approx 1 term
• 19 Form, Single Sabre, 1 Term
• 38 Form, Single Sword, Chen Fan, 2-3 Terms
• Laojia Yi Lu, Xinjia Yi Lu, Double Sabres, 1 year or more for each, as the forms are longer and much more complex
Learning forms will vary from person to person, it is repeated practice, “persistence, perseverance and hard work” (the real meaning of gong fu) that brings success.
Assessments: Held once or twice a year. To pass the different levels of training Shifu Liu requires students to be comfortable with each part of the curriculum and perform hand and weapon forms at their level for the Assessments. Even at higher levels of practice Shifu Liu would recommend students do at least one Foundation silk reeling class per week, as they are important for increasing energy and integral to Shifu Liu’s method of training.
Chen Taijiquan has a profound and subtle background of theories it is very different from other forms of exercise that concentrate more on the external body to get fit. It has mental and physical challenges, memory of forms, balance, and coordination etc. and demands a lot of regular practice to see improvement, it is not a quick fix like going to the gym. Improved health and wellbeing are the by-products of the practice and to be skilled in use for self defense takes much time and dedication. New students begin with apparently simple exercises and are not necessarily aware of the internal dynamics taking place in the practice, and the complex theories behind them. It is the beginning of a long and fascinating path, initially experience rather than theory is the key and it may take many years before the theories can be integrated into the practice. However the contrast between a beginner and when a real tai ji master performs is evident from the flow, quality and strength of the action, the ability to ‘sink’ and the understanding of the martial applications of the movements.
Click the link for more information on Chen Taijiquan
• All students should abide by the Code of Conduct of the Chen family
• All the classes are taught in English using the Chinese names rather than the English movement names, which are standard and useful when attending other Chen Taijiquan classes with Chinese teachers worldwide
• Students should wear loose comfortable clothes and flat shoes, preferable tai chi suits and shoes
• Do not eat a heavy meal for at least 1 hour before class
• Tight leggings or jeans are not suitable for internal martial arts practice, as it is important for the air to be able to circulate so the skin can relax and open, enabling energy to enter the body
• If you attend a class when the weather is very hot, bring a change of ‘t’ shirt and a small towel, if it is cold wear layers as the hall may be chilly.
The video shows Shifu Liu performing the Chen New frame long form, Xinjia Yi Lu, which demonstrates movement principles, as well as, slow and fast, soft and strong, the principles of yin yang prevelent in the Chen style.