Friday, July 27, 2018

Taiji Fast, Taiji Slow

When people think of taiji, they think of slow movements. Which, in a way, is right. Taiji is practised slowly. Why? So that we get all the details right. So that we get used to moving in a specific way, such that this specific way of moving becomes muscle memory. And the way to do that is to keep practising, to take time telling your brain to move your muscles in that specific way. It is not a matter of how many times you repeat each movement; how long you spend on creating that "link" is more critical.

However, I think that does not preclude taiji being practised fast. Because actual application is fast, and your body must be able to move with that kind of speed to response to an actual attack. So there is an aspect of speed in taiji practice. In fact, Chen style taiji emphasizes fast and slow in practice. Even Yang style has a fast form developed by Dong Yingjie.

But slow is the basic. And slow is where you should start. Get the movements right. Create that "link" first. And make sure that you do it slowly so that the "link" is the correct one, that your brain instructs your muscles to move in that specific way correctly. Because when we move fast, we make mistakes. And if we keep making the same mistakes, that mistake becomes muscle memory, and it becomes hard to untrain. Only when you have formed that correct "link" can you start to take it to the next stage, which is to be able to move both fast and slow, correctly.

Sometimes, going slow is the faster way.