Form Repititions

How many reps of the form is sufficient? [emptyflower thread] I’ve often thought about this myself. I have an acquaintance that tells me he does a form 8 times a day! I have another that shoots for 3 reps a day. Before, I used to think that a minimum of 3 reps per session was required as the first rep is just to loosen up the body, the second rep with a little more focus on flow and finally the third rep was the “training” or “development” rep. I felt without doing 3 reps, you would never get to any real “training” aspect of the form but just merely scratching the surface.

How about now? Has that changed? No. I still believe 3 reps is good, but I’ve changed my definition a bit. I feel 3 reps of *anything* is the key. Break the form into a small section and do at least 3 reps of that section, or even move. Sure, at least a full rep of the whole form is very good, but I often don’t have time to do that or I just don’t feel like doing it and want to focus on a particular section/movement.

I’ve also modified things a bit as I now feel that doing zhanzhuang IS ESSENTIAL in any training session. I used to feel that perhaps silk reeling was essential too, but I feel that zhanzhuang is more essential as it’s the key. I remember reading a quote in a yiquan book that I think sums up the idea:

Action originates in inaction and stillness is the mother of movement – Wang Xiang Zhai (Founder of Yiquan)

I think this could be taken a bit further that the key to understanding movement is to first understand stillness.

[edit] wuyizidi had a good reply to the original thread that summarizes some of my own feelings:

With the exception of Li Style, Yang, Wu (also called hao style in the west), wu (quan yu), and sun style forms should be more or less identical to Chen style as taught by Chen Changxing. Different styles count the movement differently, so in wu style the number of movement is 83, where as in Yang it’s 108.

Today the Chen style Lao Jia yi lu takes about 18-20 minutes to perform. But in most other styles, wu style included, it should take ~50 minutes to complete the form. In the old days people say in your first set you should concentrate on the physical movements, the second set focus on application (shen, intention), and the third set is more free, just follow your feeling. You can take breaks in between the sets. Performing forms back to back is hard. Remember the basic requirement of form practice is relaxed, slow, smooth, even. The analogy usually given is a wind-up clock. To the observer, all 83 movements should blend seemless together as one long, continuous movement (hence Taiji’s original name is long fist), like the movement of the seconds hand on a chronograph. You can imagine how hard it is to maintain that level of evenness and continuity. Even the slightlest lapse in concentration could cause breaks in between movements.

So that’s at least 3 hours of practice right there on the form practice alone. In the old days people did a lot more conditioning, push hand/sparring, and weapons training on top of that.


About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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