Tuesday 27 December 2011

The Five Levels of Taijiquan

In an earlier post I mentioned Chen Xiaoxing's statement on how to train and reach a high level - "You know the law...now follow the law"! Likewise, 16th Generation Chen Taijiquan theorist Chen Xin stated that all you have to do is to "follow the rules".

That's all very well if you are clear on what the rules actually are! The average Western student is faced with many difficulties in clearly understanding what is really required. Problems of language and culture, false assumptions and interpretation can lead even the dedicated student far off the correct path. A well known Taijiquan saying advises that, "If you don't diligently search for the meaning, you will only waste your effort and sigh (from disapointment). Where should you look then, if you want to avoid wasting your effort?

A good place to start might be Chen Xiaowang's  "The Five Levels of Taijiquan", to be released on February 15th. I've just finished reading a review copy and found it clear and helpful. Many people are familiar with Chen Xiaowang's interpretation of the different stages the Taiji student must go through to reach mastery. This book includes an extensive commentary on the  Five Levels by Jan Silberstorff. The book has been laid out so that every chapter begins with the original Chinese text and its direct translation. The detailed explanations in the commentary follow.
Precise and mindful practice is the key to genuine progress

As it states in the introduction, the five levels help us to know where we are now and what will follow. Secondly, they help in the understanding that learning too fast or skipping something may not be a shortcut - in fact the opposite is more likely to be true. With the knowledge of the systematic ladder that must be climbed,students of Taijiquan should have confidence that "...one vehicle is enough: one system with corresponding basic exercises, refinements and advanced levels on which to build". One for your Taijiquan library!! 

PS We've begun the process of uploading our archive of articles as pdfs onto the school website (below). This will be added to over the coming months, so check back regularly!!


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