Many people who approach tai chi are interested for the health benefits (the link is to an article in the May 2009 Harvard Women’s Health Watch newsletter). The Mayo Clinic also summarizes the evidence about tai chi. Most say more research is a good idea, for example this recent NEJM report on tai chi and fibromyalgia. This study reports improvement in older patients with depression.
There are many forms, or sets of postures, in tai chi. For example, “The 16 Form” is a creation of my teacher. Here is a list of the 16 postures, with and here is a list with little pictures to help you visualize each posture.
If you travel around the world you will most likely see the standard (sometimes called simplified) Tai Chi 24 form. Here is a list of the 24 postures. Almost all of the video links below are about the 24 form.
The Yang Family Long Form, often called "the 108," is performed here by Master Xie Bingcan, who teaches in Redmond, WA. Part two is here, and part three is here. For those of you who use the Fu Jhongwen book, noted below, Master Xie has been described as performing the form closest to the way Master Fu did it.
The 108 should be learned slow. But one way to test your stability, execution, focus, etc., is to try it fast. Here is an example.
VIDEO CLIPS OF THE STANDARD FORM:
· This gem from Youtube is billed as a world champion—learn a lot by comparing her to the others.
· Here is the form gracefully and athletically performed. (Note: this person is a Cirque du Soleil level athlete, and no one in our class bends that low or kicks that high. But it is something to see.)
· Here is what a group can look like.
Courtesy of Michael P. Garofalo, here is a detailed description of the 24 form, along with figure drawings for each posture.
Here are “Ten Important Points for Tai Chi.” The list is also referred to at the “Ten Essentials.” Beginning and advanced students should refer to this often.
The “ten important points” link is excerpted from a very good book: Douglas Wile, compiler and translator, T’ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions (NY: Sweet Ch’i Press, 1983), ISBN = 0-912059-01-x.
Another very good book, with the Ten Essentials, tai chi classics, and detailed descriptions of each posture in the long form, is Fu Zhongwen, Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan, translated by Louis Swaim (Berkeley: Blue Snake Books, 2006), ISBN-13 = 978-1-58394-152-2.
An interesting book is Wolf Lowenthal, There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing and his Tai Chi Chuan (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1991), ISBN 1-55643-112-0.
For those who want a DVD to support their learning the Standard Form, the best I have seen is Simplified Tai Chi Chuan With Applications, from Master Liang, Shou-Yu.
People interested in some other tai chi practices are invited to check out the Tai Chi Qigong Wellness Center, in Tacoma. They have a Facebook page, too. For people who want a more intensive class in the standard 24 form, take a look at my evening Monday class. The objective is to have you know the standard form, and many details of Tai Chi movement, over ten weeks. We also offer classes in the Yang style long form. The ‘advanced’ class also does a Yang style sword form, Bagua, and some push hands, among other things.
And, for those interested, here are links to some amazing and weird tai chi things.
last updated February, 2014.
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