I received my order of the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Long Form DVD in the mail yesterday (for more information, see the Yang Family Tai Chi website). After placing the order via Paypal, it took about 4 or so business days to arrive. This will be a brief review of my first impressions of the footage. Bear in mind, I haven’t seen all of it.
Production Quality (8/10)
I feel the quality production quality of the DVD is quite good. It has a good opening menu as well as menu navigation for chapter points. In fact, the chapter point navigation was superbly done. It has links to the various sections of the form (roughly 3-4 movements) that you can easily skip to and view the content.
The clarity is good and with roughly 190 mins on 1 DVD, I would’ve figured the bitrate to be on the low end resulting in bad video quality, but that was not the case. I was happy viewing the video on my 56″ TV, though it would’ve been nicer if the video was produced in widescreen, but that’s not really key.
In the demonstration of the long form, there are mulitple camera angles that blend into the one another. Very nicely done camera work, not your typical, view only from the side for the whole form kind of thing.
Wow! It may be a bit extreme to give this a full 10/10, but I was very satisfied with the content provided in the DVD. I was imagining the audio narrative to be overlayed by a native english speaker, but Yang Jun handled the delivery of material in english quite well. Not on the level of Joseph Chen, but he was easily understandable and took time and effort to explain things very clearly.
The video consists of 3 major sections.
- Overview of the 10 principles
- Demonstration of the Long Form
- Detailed movement explanation.
In the overview of the 10 Principles, Yang Jun takes his time in explaining what what is the meaning of the 10 Principles of Yang Cheng Fu and gives examples of their meaning in the execution of the form. I really enjoyed seeing his demonstration of what it means to distinguish between full and empty (principle 4) as he showed how this applied to various stepping methods and the ability to shift/move based on full/empty requirement.
However, what really caught my attention was his explanation of Principle 8, harmonizing the internal and external. He emphasized in order to harmonize this, you have to understand the meaning of the external, that is, what is the meaning of this movement. Sure.. I know, we’ve heard this all before, and he showed the basic application of brush knee twist step. But he actually goes way further in the detailed movement explanation.
During his explanations of detailed movement explanation, he went into quite a bit of detail, basically annotating every single weight shift, focus on knee alignments, remembering the principles and where the energy should be. However, after going over the explanation, he poses a question:
What is the meaning of this movement?
This is where it gets interesting as he proceeds to demonstrate the meaning via showing an application of the movement. It was very nice to see him demonstrate the double ward off right application and how both hands are used to perform a qinna. But then duing his rollback application, he reshows the double ward off application and demonstrates the roll back in the context of someone countering his qinna! The cool thing is that he does this for EACH AND EVERY SINGLE MOVEMENT!
I only watched about half of the detailed explanation, but I get the feeling he will do this throughout the whole explanation section. It was really nice to see all the qinna in the yang form, especially in regards to the application of fist under elbow and needle at sea bottom. Great kudos goes out to Yang Jun for sharing this information without requiring you to attend a private class or workshop! If he share this much information on video, I wonder how much depth he’d go into in person!
The cool thing is that it seemed as though Yang Jun really enjoys doing the application. I could often hear the “THUD!” of his palm striking that poor fellows chest. The application for separate left/right foot was hilarious as he twined both the fellow’s arm and kicked him in the bum!
The video is a bit pricey for 1 DVD. I spent about $92 total including shipping/handling and an extra $8 fee for being a non-member of the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association. But with the depth and coverage of content, I am a happy camper and not disappointed.
Overall, I am quite happy with the purchase and really enjoy the content and material being presented. I definitely see this as a video that I will often come back to for reference. I expressed my enjoyment to the secretary of the association after receiving my DVD and she told me additional videos on the sword and push hands are in the works. If they are at this level of quality and production, I will definitely get it. I feel they have set the bar high in terms of what we can expect from taijiquan instructional material.