Sunday, March 29, 2015

Don't Be Afraid To Draw Your Opponent In

A fellow student was asking my teacher on an application of a movement in taiji.

The application required one to draw his opponent towards himself.

The student had doubts about drawing an opponent in. After all, isn't that putting oneself into danger instead?

Well, you can't hit someone if he is out of your reach. And if he is within your reach, you are within his too. It is this psychological barrier that one must learn to overcome in order to be able to apply taiji.

Being within his reach does not mean you are in danger. You need to put him within your own reach, yet in a way either to expose him, or to make sure he is unable to hit you (that is to say, neutralise him). So while he may be close, he is the one in danger, not you.

So don't be afraid to draw your opponent in. Instead, know what is the danger, and how you are going to deal with it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Teacher, Mr Kwek Lee Hwa

Not many people know this, but my teacher, Mr Kwek Lee Hwa, has been teaching taiji at community centres since 1965, when he was 21 years old.

He started teaching taiji at Boon Teck Community Centre in 1965, and was probably the first person to teach taiji in community centres in Singapore. He was 21 years old then, having learnt taiji from Grandmaster Lim Bo Yen for 10 years. For 10 years, he went to Grandmaster Lim's place twice each day, practising 2 hours each time (that's 4 hours in a day). After 10 years, Grandmaster Lim gave him the go-ahead to start teaching, and Mr Kwek has been teaching taiji ever since.

Two years later, in 1967, he started teaching taiji at another community centre, Kreta Ayer Community Centre. He has been teaching there up until 7 Mar 2015, when we had our last taiji lesson at Kreta Ayer CC because it was closing for major renovations. That's 48 years of teaching at a single location. It's a pity that he has to stop his classes there because of renovations, but it can't be helped. The classes at Kreta Ayer CC has shifted to Toa Payoh East Community Centre.

Why Toa Payoh East CC? Because Toa Payoh East CC used to be called Boon Teck CC. The same community centre that Mr Kwek started his taiji teaching journey back in 1965. He has since been teaching there for the past 50 years.

This is passion. This is commitment. This is my inspiration. I only hope I have the passion and commitment to live up to being his student.

See here for a list of classes by Mr Kwek.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Taiji Classes by Mr Kwek Lee Hwa (Updated 9 Mar 15)

** Updated as of 9 Mar 15 **

My teacher is Mr Kwek Lee Hwa, who started teaching taijiquan back in 1965, at Toa Payoh East CC (back then, it was known as Boon Teck CC). He currently teaches taiji at a few places in Singapore. Below are some of those places.


Taijiquan Classes
Tampines Changkat CC on Mondays, 8pm to 10pm
Toa Payoh East CC on Tuesdays, 8pm to 10pm
Hong Lim Green CC on Thursdays, 6pm to 7:30pm
Toa Payoh Lorong 1 shed (Block 98A) between Block 96 and Block 98 on Fridays, 8.30pm to 10pm (This class is for his students interested in further improving their foundation.)
Toa Payoh East CC on Saturdays, 7pm to 8:30pm
Kampong Ubi CC on Sundays, 10:30am to 12noon
Tampines Changkat CC on Sundays, 7:30pm to 9pm

Discontinued:
Poh Khiu Temple on Wednesdays, 8pm to 10pm (Mr Kwek has not been teaching at Poh Khiu Temple for some time now because the new management there has discontinued his class.)
Kreta Ayer CC on Saturdays, 11am to noon and 7pm to 10pm (see link) (This class is no longer available as Kreta Ayer CC is going to start major renovations, and all classes will stop from Mar 15 onwards. Instead, classes have shifted to Toa Payoh East CC, see above.)
Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 Blk 323 multi-storey carpark (top floor) on Sundays, 7:30am to 9am (Due to circumstances, Mr Kwek no longer teaches at the carpark in Ang Mo Kio.)



Pushing Hands Classes
Toa Payoh East CC on Wednesdays, 8:15pm to 9:45pm (If Saturday night is more convenient, Mr Kwek also allows students to register for the Wednesday pushing hands class, but come for practice on Saturday nights during taiji classes instead.)
Tampines Changkat CC on Sundays, 6pm to 7.30pm

Discontinued:
Kreta Ayer CC on Thursdays, 8.30pm to 10pm
Kreta Ayer CC on Saturdays, 5.30pm to 7pm
(Classes at Kreta Ayer CC have stopped from Mar 15 onwards due to major renovations. Shifted to Toa Payoh East CC instead, see above.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Practise Slowly

When practising routines, my teacher advocates the following:
At least 30 minutes for Yang Style 108.
At least 15 minutes for Chen Style Old Frame First Routine
At least 12 minutes for Sun Style.

Why? Because when you practise, it is important to practise slowly. Because when we first learn taiji, we still don't know how to relax. So when we move too fast, most of the time, we are not able to move in a relaxed manner. Moving slowly forces us to try to relax and gives us time to focus on the fundamentals, such as making sure the movement of the hand is linked to the legs.

Once you have reached a certain stage, you will be able to move in a relaxed manner fast or slow. It is still recommended to practise slowly though, so that you can constantly check your actions to make sure they are correct.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Inkling: The Line

Just an inkling I had today.

About this line that joins the point of contact (POC) to your opponent's centre of gravity (CG). When your force acts along this line, it will have an effect on your opponent. So when you are pushing hands, the trick is to utilise force along this imaginary line.

Similarly, your opponent will be able to move you if his force acts in the line that joins the POC with your CG. To neutralise his force means to shift either the direction of his force away from your CG, or to shift your CG away from the direction of his force.

The shorter this imaginary line, the easier it is for force to act from the POC towards the CG, due to the shorter distance the force has to act on. But it also means that it is easier to neutralise the force, since a small movement will result in the force no longer acting on the CG.

It's all about the line.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

How I Learn

When I first started out training under my teacher, Mr Kwek, I was learning from him Chen style taijiquan. I had previously learnt this under my wushu coach, but I wanted to learn it properly from a taiji teacher. What I had previously been practising looks good to the untrained eye, but is worth nothing to someone who knows taiji.

My teacher would teach me the moves, one or a few. And then I would practise them. Again and again and again. Every session, I will keep practising the movements that I have been taught so far. I never asked him to teach me the next move. When he felt that I could learn more, he came over and taught me the next move.

That is faith. Faith in your teacher. Faith that he knows best (after all, my teacher has been teaching taiji for 40 years when I first met him) and knows when you are ready to move on to the next step.

Keep practising, ask questions, and then practise some more. Eventually, you will get there. There is no secret, no short cut, other than lots of practice. To think that you know more than your teacher, to think that you are ready for the next step when your teacher doesn't think so, that is your own self-conceitedness at work. And it is working against your progress.

Be humble, be patient.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Don't Teach, Don't Share, Until You Are Ready

Teaching taiji is a good way to improve at it.

Sharing with your fellow students is a good thing too.

But when we learn from a teacher, we are here to learn what the teacher has to teach. It may be good to share knowledge, but share what you have learnt from the teacher, not what you know. Because your own understanding may not be deep enough.

Teach what your teacher taught you, not what you are practising. Because what you are practising may not be right.

It takes a certain amount of time, effort and understanding before one is ready to help teach and share what he has learnt. To try and teach and share before that may end up impeding fellow students, rather than helping them.

So yes, by all means teach and share, but only when you are ready.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Safety Is Paramount

My teacher places a lot of emphasis on safety during lessons. After all, no one comes to class wanting to get injured.

When someone gets injured, three parties are at fault. The person who caused hurt, for not being able to control his own actions. The person who was injured, for not being more aware of what is going on and thus avoiding getting hurt. And the teacher, who failed to create an environment in which the students value the safety of each other.

When we started learning weapon forms, my teacher would stress on safety. How to hold the weapons, how to walk around and being aware, so that you don't hit other people or get cut by others. And when training in unison, he would emphasise that we move together, so that we don't end up getting in each other's way. Questions should be left to the end of the practice, not during, since the rest of the class is still moving even if you decide to stop and ask a question. And that is very dangerous.

And all the more in pushing hands, he stressed the importance of respecting your training partner. Causing hurt is not the aim of pushing hands. Learning from each other, learning about yourself, that is the reason why we push hands. Which was why he allowed himself to be pushed instead of causing harm to his opponent.

Be safe, stay safe. If you can't even stay safe in practice, how to stay safe in a real fight?


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Learning Different Styles

My teacher, Mr Kwek, teaches three main styles of taiji: Yang, Chen and Sun. I have learnt all three styles from him, and previously wrote about what is good about learning each of these. Yang style provides a very good foundation in the basic principles of taiji, while Chen style is good to learn how to apply taiji. Sun style is good in learning footwork and movement.

But at the end of the day, learning any single one is enough. Just be good in one, because you can get the benefits from being good in one single style. There is no need to learn three styles to be able to use taiji. You just need to put in a lot of time and effort into practising one style.

Then why did I learn three styles?

Because my teacher teaches them. I learnt three styles because I want to be able to help him in his classes. I started out only wanting to learn Chen style, but as I followed him around in his classes, I realise I wasn't of much use, since he teaches other styles that I had not learnt. So while I was trying to help him teach for my own improvement, I couldn't help out at most of the classes.

So when Queen Elizabeth visited Singapore in March 2006, and my teacher's class had to do a taiji performance, I went through a crash course in Yang style taiji so that I could be part of that performance. Good thing I have seen my teacher teach Yang style before and therefore was not totally new to the movements, so I could at least keep up by imitating those around me. But that got me thinking. If I really want to help my teacher, I need to know more, so that I can help more.

That got me started on learning Yang style. And then Sun style.

So while I have learnt to use each style to train a different aspect of taiji, I did not learn the three styles for that purpose. I learnt them so that I can help my teacher.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

14 Hours In A Week

I did 14 hours of taiji over the past week.

That's an average of 2 hours per day.

That's half of what my teacher used to do. He used to practise 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, every day. That's 28 hours in a week.

If 14 hours a week is tiring, I can only imagine what practising 28 hours a week is like.

I have a long way to go...

Friday, January 09, 2015

Which Is More Important?

I was asked if practising routine or pushing hands is more important?

My answer is that you need to do both.

"But what is you really need to choose?"

For me, one cannot do without the other.

If you really need to choose... choose to be better at taiji. Put in time and effort to practise both routine and pushing hands.

We all only have 24 hours in a day. It is up to us to decide what we really want, what is more important to us. That is how we then allocate our time.

Allocate time and effort into the things that are important to you. If improving at taiji is important enough, you will find time to do both routine and pushing hands.

Note: Not everyone understands this. Anyway, I just told the person asking, that if she needs to choose, then choose to practise routine. But that's just because I don't think she is at the stage in which she will understand what I actually think.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Tracking My Training For 2015

In a previous post, I have been tracking my training for 2014.

For 2014, I practised:
66 sets of Chen style Old Frame First Routine
112 sets of Yang style 108
109 sets of Sun style
(total 287 sets of taijiquan in a year)

173 sets of Chen style taijijian
149 sets of Yang style taijijian
(total 322 sets of taijijian in a year)

290 sets of Yang style taijidao

At this rate, it will take me more than a lifetime to be able to practise 10,000 sets of any single routine.

For 2015, besides tracking the number of sets, I will also track the number of hours I put into practising taiji.

Practice practice practice!
 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Low But Must Move

A low stance is good for training. But if you cannot move your kua in that low stance and end up just shifting your weight front and back, side to side (or worse, not moving at all), then you will not learn how to relax your kua and use it to absorb your opponent's force. Your low stance would be a rigid stance that is good to train up your leg muscles, but nothing to improve your taiji.

A low stance makes it easier to train you to move your kua, the important thing is to learn how to move your kua. Not the low stance. One is the aim, the other is the method. Don't put the cart before the horse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Talk is Cheap

Talk is cheap. We all know the principles of taiji. Just read a book. But being able to achieve what is written, now, that takes a lot of effort and time.

So while someone may tell you a lot and sound like he knows a lot, you have to ask yourself: is he really able to do the things that he is talking about? Or is he just talking but not doing? Anyone can tell you to relax in order to use your opponent's force against him. But can the person telling you this actually do it? Or is he actually using brute force?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Training Together, In Unison

It is important to train together. Not only do you learn to keep pace with others, but you actually learn how to control your movements better. Especially if you are practising in a confined space, you need to have a very good grasp about the space you need to avoid getting into each other's way. And practising in such confined spaces forces everyone to keep pace with each other; after all, if you are all moving in the same direction, doing the same thing, you won't bump into each other. All the more when practising with weapons, you want to make sure you have good control and how much space you need, and keep pace with each other, so that you don't hit anyone.

So one of the best way to learn spacial awareness and control is actually to practise weapon forms in a group, inside a room small enough to accommodate everyone but not too large such that everyone can run wild. Two good examples: when we practise Yang style taijidao at Tampines Changkat CC on Sunday nights, and when we practise Chen style taijijian at Kreta Ayer CC on Saturday nights. The rooms are just big enough to accommodate everyone, and everyone needs to be mindful of what is happening so as not to hit anyone else.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Martial Morals 武徳 Revisited

I learnt an important lesson today.

One of my fellow student from Thursday pushing hands class brought his friend to push hands with my teacher today.

My teacher asked me to push hands with him first. That person is quite rough, and tried to grapple and throw me, but instead fell backwards when I took a step forward towards him. Next, he pushed hands with my teacher. My teacher just upsetted his balance a few times, never caused him to fall. But that person kept struggling, and my teacher kept telling him not to use so much force. Then the person tried to grapple my teacher, and my teacher let himself be pushed backwards and fell.

The lesson?

It is about martial morals (武徳).

In order not to let myself get hurt, I allow my partner to fall. But my teacher is different. Instead of allowing his partner to get hurt, he chose to let himself be pushed. He could easily have chosen to use his partner's force against him, but because his partner was so rough, that could easily end up hurting his partner. He has reached a level in which he respects his training partner so much that he would rather hurt himself than let his partner get hurt.

I still have a long way to go...

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Ouch!

I am not really appreciative when my pushing hands partners play rough. To me, pushing hands is a practice in which you need to respect your partner and not play rough. I always try to avoid injuring anyone during practice.

But instead, I got injured... okay, just a minor scratch (about 7cm long) but still, it goes to show that while I may place emphasis on not injuring my partners, that feeling may not be mutual. Sigh.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Your Talk Reveals Your Walk

Taiji is about relaxing, about how to use your opponent's force against him. Because you are using minimum force during pushing hands, your arms shouldn't get tired. Instead, your arms get tired when you are using force to resist. My arms used to get tired in my beginning years of pushing hands, because I still have not learnt how not to resist. But over the years, I have learnt that the more your opponent tries to use force, the more you should try to relax. When he uses force, he tires himself out, he starts panting. By staying relaxed, you conserve energy.

So when my fellow student was talking about how he easily tires when he practises with another student (who is new and uses a lot of brute force), it is a revelation that he is still not able to relax when faced with force. He is still resisting.

Being relaxed doesn't mean giving space to your opponent. In fact, by being relaxed, all the more your opponent won't be able to come in. But it is human nature to push back when pushed. That is instinct. We train because we want to change that. We need to train long and hard to change that instinctive reaction.

And so I continue to walk this path.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Don't Copy The Master

Yet another inkling from my experience with calligraphy.

I am preparing a piece for a calligraphy exhibition. My calligraphy teacher got a fellow master to write an example for me as a reference for my practice. I have been trying to imitate that master's example during my practices.

My calligraphy teacher told me I should not try to emulate the master. Because my technique is not there yet, so when I try to emulate the master, instead of looking good, it looks wrong. Instead, I should write each word properly.

It reminded me of my taiji learning journey. When I first started out, I was learning Chen style taiji, and I tried to emulate my teacher's movements. But instead of looking like a taiji master, I looked very unnatural. I was getting it all wrong. My teacher told me not to try too hard to emulate his movements, but rather to focus on getting the movements right first. Make sure they conform to the principles of taiji, and eventually, the flavour will come in.

Work on the basics, get them right. Eventually the flavour will come in. Trying to emulate the styles of others when you are not there yet only makes you look unnatural and thus wrong. It takes time to master an art. There is no shortcut.

Back to practice.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Practise A Lot, And Keep Practising!

Constant practice is need for you to improve.

But constant practice is not enough.

You also need to practise a lot each time you practise.

I drew this link between calligraphy and taiji before, and I now draw this link again.

Recently, to prepare for a calligraphy exhibition, I have been practising calligraphy a lot. A lot more than what I used to do. Plus I practised almost everyday (only skipped one day out of the week). The end product was something very much different from what I started out with. I improved. A lot. Within one week.

Thinking back, this is similar to my experience with taiji. I improve through constant practice. But when I practised more each time, the improvement was significantly more. I could sense progress, instead of taking months to realise that I have improved.

So don't just keep practising, but practise more each time too!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Respect Revisited

Yesterday, only two students turned up for class. Myself, and another student (who usually fetches my teacher to class).

Rain or shine, my teacher turns up for class.

But I can't say the same about his students.

It is not about money. It is about respect. Respect for the teacher that took his time and effort to teach the class. Respect for fellow students who look forward to learning together with you. Even if you don't respect yourself, you should respect the people waiting for you, wondering what happened to you.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Taiji And Pushing Hands Go Hand-In-Hand

I had the chance to push hands with someone who has been learning taiji for a very long time. But he does not practise pushing hands. While you can see his strong foundation from his taiji movements, the moment our hands touched, I knew that he was not able to fully relax.

Yes, taiji practice is very important. It is the foundation and it is eventually what taiji is about. But if you don't push hands, you will never know if you are truly able to relax, to truly be able to apply the principles of taiji.

So practise both your taiji routines and pushing hands, because they go hand-in-hand. You can never apply taiji without practising both.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Consistently Wrong

Consistency comes from practice. And when you keep practising the wrong thing, you will always be wrong.

I have been consistently wrong in one of my movements, moving my hand too high. My teacher pointed that out the other day, and I have been making effort to correct it.

It is a lot of effort. Because every time my concentration slipped a bit, my hand goes back to the same height that it is so used to, because that was how I had been practising.

The practice has become habit, and now, I have to spend that much more effort to correct my mistake. And that's why it is so important to be correct in your practice. Because it takes a lot more effort to right a mistake.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Learning Pushing Hands in Singapore

My teacher, Master Kwek Lee Hwa, teaches both taiji and pushing hands. In his taiji classes, he does talk about taiji application and a bit of pushing hands too, but otherwise, he also has dedicated pushing hands classes that focus on that aspect of taiji practice.

There are many types of pushing hands, but Master Kwek teaches taiji pushing hands. It is for those interested in learning how to apply taiji, how to relax and use your opponent's force against him. Those interested in learning how to push others need not apply. You don't need to go to pushing hands class to learn how to push someone. A five-year-old can teach you that (at least, the one at my home can).

Details of his pushing hands classes are below:

Every Thursday night, 8:30pm to 10pm
Kreta Ayer CC, Level 2 Activity Room 4
(Kreta Ayer CC is between Chinatown MRT and Outram MRT stations.)

Every Sunday evening, 6pm to 7:30pm
Tampines Changkat CC, Level 1 Dance Studio

You can also get information on the classes from Master Kwek's facebook page.

Come join us! It takes years and years of practice to be able to relax and use your opponent's force against him. The road is not an easy one. But if you persevere, the rewards are there for you to reap! What is important is to have the right mindset towards learning pushing hands. The right mindset opens your mind to the lessons that pushing hands practice can give you, allowing you to gain more from each practice. The wrong mindset closes your mind, preventing you from learning anything from practice sessions.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Learning Self-Defence Is Not Easy

A topic came up about self-defence in the course of work. Well, my opinion is that it is not easy to learn self-defence. Self-defence is not something that you can learn at a workshop over a few days and expect to be able to apply it in the future when something happens.

I have been learning taiji for more than 9 years, pushing hands for almost that long. Yet I don't dare to say that I am confident that I will be able to use taiji to defend myself. Because pushing hands is not self-defence. Yes, it leads to it, but it is only a portion leading to it. There is also the need for pair practice, something which I don't do a lot of. And even then, this will be in a controlled environment. When facing a real attack, there are no rules. I can only hope I am able to remain calm and relaxed so that I can apply what I have learnt.

9 years of practice and I am still at this stage. What more can you expect from a short workshop? To be able to apply a skill takes constant practice. Even then, one can only hope that in the face of danger, one does not forget what one has been practising all these years.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Respect Your Opponent, Revisited

I am revisiting my thoughts, not because there is nothing new to learn, but rather because some things are important enough for me to want to constantly remind myself.

After the incident yesterday, when my opponent fell over and hit his head, I am reminded again on why I act the way I do when I practise pushing hands. My opponents are my training partners, and I treat them with respect. They help me to learn my weaknesses. They are not people to conquer, people to beat.

And that is why when I push hands, I try not to cause my opponent to fall. I just try to use his strength against him to upset his balance. My aim is to make him realise that it is his own force that is being used against him to cause him to lose his balance. It is sometimes difficult, because my opponent may lose his balance, regain his balance and come back even fiercer. Then it becomes a vicious cycle. Things may reach a stage in which his force is so strong that he may fall. I usually try to avoid that happening by letting him push me away to put an end to things and start afresh. But sometimes, his force may be too strong, too sudden, and when it is used back against him, I may not be able to control how much to return and cause his to fall.

When that happens, I feel bad. Because it means I still have not reached the stage when I can control the force that I return. It means I have some way to go. And I feel bad because I risked injuring my training partner.

I always remember what my teacher said. Don't push all the way, don't commit all your force, don't use 100%. Use 70%, leave 30% behind. When you do that, you are not just leaving your opponent a way out, you are leaving yourself a way out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Playing Rough, Revisited

Something happened today that reminded me of another incident some time back.

My opponent was trying to grab my arm for a reverse arm lock. I followed his force instead and put my elbow against his chest, telling him that he should not use force, else his force can be used back against him. He tried it again, this time with the same result. He then told me that he can sweep away my elbow if I try to close in with it again. I told him that is a very dangerous thing to do because that force can be used back against him.

He tried. Even though I warned him not to.

He fell back felt and hit the back of his head against the floor. Fell like a log because he was using a lot of force and his whole body was stiff.

I felt bad because I wasn't able to control the amount of force that I used back against him, causing him to almost injure himself. But at the same time, I also tell myself that I had given him enough warning not to use force, not to try to win by brute strength.

Pushing hands is not about pushing your opponent. It is about learning to sense and use force. If we are so obsessed with pushing our opponent, we will never be able to relax and learn how to sense and use force.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Leaning Forward

What do you do when someone leans forward to push? Especially if he adopts a long and low stance, like in this video below?


If my opponent adopts a long and low stance when leaning forward to push, it means that it is difficult for him to fall forward. If he is going to fall forward, all he needs is to use his front leg to push himself back up and he will regain his balance.

And that is the key.

When he leans forward to push, relax and he will lose his balance. He will fall forward. If he then tries to right himself, then you should follow through by helping him. When he uses his front leg to push himself back to right himself, add a bit of force to help him, and he will fall back instead. That is how to use his force against him. His force pushing forward to make him fall forward, and his force to right himself to make him fall backwards. Don't resist, but follow him instead. 捨己从人,不丢不顶。

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Enjoying Practice

I aim to take at least 30 minutes to finish a set of Yang Style 108. In the past, I tried to practise as slowly as I can, and it felt slow. I knew I was deliberately trying to drag things out.

But recently, I tried something else. I just aimed to stay relaxed during the entire set. My mind was on staying relaxed, on linking my legs to my upper body so that I use the force generated by my legs to move the upper body instead of my muscular strength.

The practice didn't feel slow. In fact, it was an enjoyable pace. And I easily took more than 30 minutes to complete the set.

I will be trying this with Chen Style and Sun Style too, just to see how it affects my practice.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's The Basics That Are Important

I keep hearing this from my teacher, and it is also something that Matsuda Ryuchi (松田隆智) writes about. There may be many forms in a style, but it is the most basic that is most important. Because most of the time, that basic set embodies all the important things in that style. It is the essence of that style. It may be a few moves, but if you get it right, it is all you need.

My teacher teaches a way to practise 揽雀尾 in a never-ending manner as a warm-up and basic exercise for 杨氏太极拳, because this single move has 4 out of taiji's 8 forces.

Matsuda-sensei likes to stress the importance of 八极小架, and studies the variations amongst the various schools since it is the essence of 八极拳.

There is 四把 and 六大开 in 心意六合拳, 10 basic moves that forms the style's essence.

Similarly, 形意拳 has 五行拳, just 5 different moves but they form the core of 形意拳.

So as we practise the various forms, we must not forget that it is the basics that are important. Forms are just a way for us to string the practice of those basics together.