|Kelly Holmes - perfect basic movements|
How many times are Taijiquan students seduced by the lure of the more (seemingly) exciting advanced forms, weapons, applications etc before they have even begun to put down an adequate foundation. This is a certain dead end road. Chenjiagou practitioners have the advantage of seeing learners at each stage of the learning process, so they readily accept the validity of the traditional syllabus. Western students hear the tales of the grandmasters spending long periods on the foundation form, but often either get bored or lose confidence. I read one "advanced" student of one of the Chen grandmasters proudly proclaiming his 200 hours of training with said teacher during which time he had apparently gone through the entire syllabus. Chen Taijiquan is a powerful and effective martial art that has stood the test of time. It has its own unique movement and energetic requirements and is not just Shaolin Gongfu or Karate done slowly. The slowness of Taijiquan allows the practitioner to pay attention to the myriad requirements which, when all in place, gives a tremendous degree of rootedness, structural integration and balance. Looking back at the notes I took during Chen Zhenglei's First International Advanced Training Camp in Hebei, China in 1999, I had highlighted the following advice he gave "train the movement, not the manifestation - train the body to be a completely integrated system". Slowness is the method not the aim of practice!
|1997 International Advanced Chen Taijiquan Training Camp we were told to "train the body as an integrated system"|
In Chenjiagou there is a saying that to achieve success and skill in Taijiquan you must be prepared to "eat bitterness". There is also a saying that "you must train according to the rules". It is not just about being easy and fun and without effort. The real marker of whether someone is serious about Chen Taijiquan is whether they believe in the method. Don't be in a hurry. Carefully work towards understanding the different requirements, train hard and advance step-by-step!!