Friday 11 March 2011

Are we breeding a generation of "taiji bums"?

Just finished reading an excellent article called Mastering Taijiquan by Yang stylist Sam Masich, where he writes of "a generation of taiji bums; enthusiasts seeking out patchwork solutions as they study odds and sods from various sources to gain some semblance of a full curriculum".
Masich's article passionately calls for practitioners to return to the discipline of "full curriculum" training.  While this will inevitably vary within different schools and disciplines, within Chen Taijiquan it would typically include:

- Zhan Zhuang (Standing Post)
- Chansigong (Silk-Reeling Exercises)
- Taolu (Handforms)
- Wuqi (Weapons -divided into long and short weapons)
- Tuishou (Push Hands)
- Applications

 Each element of the curriculum shares a unifying set of movement and structural principles. Practised in its entirity the syllabus produces fully rounded martial artists - strong and fluid, rooted and agile, calm and at the same time alert.  By the time a student works through all the handforms, long and short weapons, push hands drills etc he posseses an extensive body of material. Perhaps there is too much information available today as students flit from style to style, missing the traditional idea of immersion within a chosen discipline. Or perhaps it signals a lack of confidence or belief in the system one is training in. Within Chenjiagou Taijiquan who are the most admired practitioners - Chen Xiaowang, Wang Xian, Chen Xiaoxing, Zhu Tiancai, Chen Zhenglei, Chen Zhiqiang, Chen Bing etc etc etc... - each the product of confidently and exclusively following the traditional syllabus.


  1. Great post David. Indeed something I have been growling about for some time. Would that more Taiji instructors offered a "full curriculum".

    Thanks for keeping it real

  2. while i agree its worth noting that the more impressive folk i have trained with have trained in a few different styles. from what i have done it was invaluable to have aikido escrima and taiji and yoga for deeper relaxation and body knowledge. mma didnt teach me anything but it did make me loads stronger/tougher. i would dearly love to study full curriculum chen style.

  3. Exactly my point. I'v been practising taiji for 12 years and for a year i feel i need to "sum it up" in a clever curriculum. I feel like i have to many lose ends.

    BTW David, been reading your book and i'm very satisfied with it. It gave me a lot. Nice work, thanks!


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