Saturday, March 30, 2013

Style Versus Strucuture/Form

There are many styles of taiji, though there are 5 main styles, each unique in its own way. For example, Chen style taiji has a good mixture of fast and slow, and the signature silk reeling. Yang style taiji has big movements and uniform rhythm.

The structure/form of each style usually serves to highlight these characteristics. The movements in Yang style routines are big. The movements in Chen style routines have a lot of silk reeling.

By practising the forms, we are eventually able to realise the styles.

But sometimes, we try to use form/structure to cover up our deficiencies in style. We are not there yet in style (because we don't practise enough), but we add in a bit more silk reeling into our Chen style routine to make it look like we are good. We deliberately practise our Yang style routine slowly to make the movements seem big and the rhythm uniform. But these are just movements without substance. It is not true style. We look good not because we are skilled in the style that we practise, but because the form that we practise looks good. We end up being satisfied by appearances and not true skill. We can't bring out the flavour in our styles through our practice, and instead make it up by adopting movements that duplicate such flavour.

So a question to ask ourselves when we learn our forms: does practising the form help you in learning the style, or is it just that the form looks like the style?

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