|How to pass your first grade|
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Level of difficulty
The beginners grade contains no martial material whatsoever. The training is health oriented. This is why the students wear a white T-shirt.
It should take the average student about 6 months to complete the beginners syllabus.
The white belt introduces basic topics:
Ba duan jin (8 exercises)
Form posture qigong
Full circle qigong
Moving qigong (8 exercises)
Reeling silk exercises (5 exercises)
Standing qigong/3 circle qigong
Assignment #1 - Q & A
Assignment #2 - Attitude & etiquette
Although nothing is unduly complex, there is
plenty to learn.
Unfortunately, there is no secret formula. You just need to
practice every day.
Qigong is the key to getting the hang of things. The more time you spend practicing the exercises, the easier it will be to learn anything and everything in the syllabus.
Standing qigong will build strength, teach alignment and develop structure. Moving qigong teach stance (foot position), coordination, timing, relaxation and flexibility.
Once you have learned the exercises, practice them every day. That way, you'll benefit and you also won't forget them. If you can't remember the exercises, buy the Qigong DVD.
Practice every day
Failure to practice qigong frequently enough or thoroughly enough will retard progress.
Ideally, a student should stand for 20 minutes and then perform plate exercise, standing post, 4 directions - forwards & backwards, 4 directions - to the side, opening & closing - to the side, cloud hands, ba duan jin (8 exercises), moving qigong (8 exercises).
10 repetitions of each. Every day.
12 week challenge
A great way to take yourself out of your comfort zone is to set yourself a "12 week challenge". Aim to pass all of the qigong exercises on the ticksheet within 12 weeks.
This is quite a reasonable target if you think about it. A whole month to learn the reeling silk exercises, another month for ba duan jin and a third month for moving qigong.
I don't stop when I'm tired.
I only stop when I'm done.
Everything in the taijiquan curriculum has an order for practice. If you are struggling to remember the order, be smart about it...e.g. ba duan jin:
Copy out the names of the 8 exercises
Make notes about each exercise
What is each individual exercise about?
Explain its purpose
Which characteristics make it different from the other exercises?
Copy out down the names of the 8 exercises ten times
Now try and write down the 8 names again - without referring to your notes, the handout or the website
If you can't remember the 8 exercises, try again tomorrow
Do the assignments ASAP
Deepen your understanding by committing the time to the assignments. The questionnaires provide context.
Beginners overanalyse the taijiquan rather than just get on with the practice. This is bad in class. Thinking is the outcome of memory.
Lacking experience in taijiquan, you have no useful memories to assist you in class. Understanding is the product of hindsight.
Useful knowledge and experience can only be gained through practice...
Seek those challenges
Practice them at home as well as in class e.g. full circle qigong.
High repetition is crucial
When you are shown a new movement, new concern or a form correction, drill it repeatedly until familiar. No matter how many times it takes.
Difficult movements may require hundreds of repetitions to become easier. How may times? As many as it takes...
Eventually the training becomes familiar and the patterns are more comfortable. Then you can start to improve.
This is the stage where your awareness will help a great deal. Observe your taijiquan carefully and drill corrections thoroughly.
Sifu Waller expects students to critically self-assess their own practice and then seek an evaluation. If the taijiquan is good enough for the grade, it will be ticked-off.
You can then learn something more advanced. Being assessed is the only way to progress to the higher grades.
If you simply choose to attend class and not practice at home, that is OK. Nobody can force you to train. Simply allow that your progress will be very slow.
Read The Sword Polisher's Record
Why not consider reading The Sword Polisher's Record? The book will help you to understand how taijiquan is taught.
created 4 August 1995
Last updated 17 March 2020