We have all read and heard stories about the near magical skills achieved by some Taijiquan masters of the past. Many people find the skills for which the art became famous illusive. Nonetheless we strive to achieve the best we can and keep the art alive.
It is safe to say that there are many causes for such a lack of true skill development in Taijiquan, from poor teachers to lazy students and so on.
One of the primary causes is simple misunderstanding; people misunderstand both what to train and how to train. Thus the causes being incorrect the effects can only follow to be incorrect as well.
The Yang family divided the training into three aspects. Each one has its purpose and time, each one has an effect on the other and must be trained in the right proportion and be trained correctly to achieve success.
The three components of training are :
- Lian (练) or practice
- Yong (用) or usage and
- Biaoyan (表演) or show.
Practice is the solo training, the body of the work. This includes jibengong or basic body methods, zhan zhuang or standing post, song gong, nei gong, gong li or power exercises and deep work on different postures and internal methods and much more.
Usage is the partner work, the pushing hands training, application and sparring. Working on stick, adhere, join and follow and applying the different jins and skills developed in the practice component of the training.
Show is what we see as Taijiquan these days, it is going through the entire Dalu set, focusing on things like even tempo, smooth movement and looking graceful, traditionally it was used to show the art to outsiders without divulging the practice or the usage of the style.
These days most practitioners of the art only work on the ‘show’ aspect of training, neglecting the essence in the ‘practice’ and the application in the ‘usage’. This leads to an attempt to reverse engineer the practice and the usage from the show. It is easy to see how things go wrong from here.
This post was authored by Adam Mizner