Monday 12 August 2013

Is it possible to make a sudden leap forward in skill?

Gradual and systematic progression
"Practice quan a thousand times, the skill will transmit itself"

To learn Taijiquan one needs a gradual and systematic progression, from the elementary to the advanced level. Anyone who goes against this tenet will not succeed! We can't really be any clearer than that, can we? Zhuangzi's Daoist classic summarises the only really effective way to approach learning:: "Neither deviate from your instructions, nor hurry to finish. Do not force things. It is dangerous to deviate from instruction or push for completion. It takes a long time to do a thing properly". Likewise, there is a saying that is often repeated in Chenjiagou that "you should treat ten years as if it were one day". China's rural martial arts have long accepted the need for patience and the acceptance of  following the rules for an extended time.

People often talk excitedly about some breakthrough or other they've just experienced - some discovery or new realisation. These breakthroughs are a natural and normal part of the learning process. But this new understanding means little if it is not then relentlessly trained into your body.The advice left by successive generations of masters is very clear on this point: 

Chen Xin (16th Generation): "All idle talk does is to create a tide of black ink; actually putting it into practice is the real thing".

Chen Fake (17th Generation): "How much you accomplish depends entirely upon how much effort you put in..."

Chen Zhaopi (18th Generation): "Besides having the direction of a good teacher,the main criterion is whether the person himself is willing to put in the hard work".

Chen Xiaowang (19th Generation): "train diligently, ignore tiredness and accept the need for hard work".
"Train diligently and accept the need for hard work"

A few weeks ago, in response to the question as to whether progress is always incremental and gradual, or can it in certain instances also be sudden and fast? Chen Ziqiang's (20th Generation) answer left little room for doubt: 

"... a person should practice diligently and persevere unremittingly. It is not possible to have a quantum leap. This is wishful thinking, a pipe dream. There are no shortcuts".  


  1. Today the concept of doing something for a long time consistently is a hard thing to do. We have so much instantly. Most schools will train you in as many techniques or styles as fast as you want, for a price. It has been my personal experience that without great time invested into skill and technique, neither will work for you.
    I have heard somewhere before that if you practice everyday, soon it will naturally become part of your day. you will feel like your day is missing something without out it. Thanks, to all of you who do practice everyday you inspire me to keep practicing.

  2. It has been my experience that although there are no shortcuts, that progress in "understanding" come mostly in leaps... practice , practice , practice "oh I see now! ". (the infamous "light bulb" ) Then of course comes the work of getting that "understanding" to manifest in my practice.



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