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In order to perform taijiquan skilfully, knowledge is required.
The more knowledge you can draw upon, the more informed your practice.
What do you need to know?
Taijiquan is a complex art.
To perform it well, there is a lot to you need to know:
The teachings of Taoism
The Tai Chi Classics
All 13 areas of study
Yang's 10 Essentials
An understanding of what constitutes medically-sound body use
The ability to functionally apply the Art in a skilful 'taijiquan' way
The taijiquan principles
Jing (whole-body power)
Chin na applications
Shuai jiao applications
Self defence applications
Partner work drills
An awareness of various types of tai chi, their similarities and differences
Asian culture & history
Spiritual exploration (self-discovery)
This is not an exhaustive list...
A student of taijiquan needs to voraciously increase their knowledge.
Read the books from the reading list (repeatedly).
Explore the web.
Ask your teacher questions.
Not everything you discover will be useful.
The internet is filled with junk.
A lot of people are simply promoting their own agenda; selling their own services.
Your teacher can steer you away from wasting time watching YouTube clips and reading potentially toxic websites.
Trust their judgement.
They know what they are planning to teach you, how the pieces fit together and what the final product will look like.
One danger with acquiring knowledge is that it can lead you to believe that you know far more than you actually do.
For example, when our students complete the beginner's syllabus and then the intermediate syllabus it is tempting to become complacent.
But what does the individual really understand?
They have only been exposed to no more than 1% of the overall taijiquan curriculum.
Impatience is another outcome of over-confidence.
The student watches a skilled performance and over-estimates their own capacities.
Seeking instant gratification, they become quickly frustrated and resentful.
Their lack of knowledge hinders their ability to understand what they are witnessing.
Attempting to make sense of information without sufficient knowledge will only result in confusion and failure.
Knowledge and experience are vital to success.
Understanding requires context.
Context is the outcome of wisdom and hindsight.
To understand how things operate, a student must combine different areas of knowledge.
There are 28 items on the list at the top of this page.
By combining different facets of knowledge, the student gains a far more comprehensive picture of what is taking place.
A beginner cannot conceivably understand advanced level material.
Their frame of reference is that of a beginner.
In other words; they understand everything from the viewpoint/perspective of a beginner.
The factors they take into consideration reflect the values of a beginner.
The only way to understand advanced material is to become advanced yourself through the acquisition of applied knowledge.
Ignorance is fatal
The biggest impediment facing tai chi on a global scale is ignorance...
Modern people seem disinclined to dig deep.
Taijiquan is a fascinating Art.
There is an enormous amount to learn from even one style.
Commit the time and the effort to the Art and you will be rewarded with a far richer training experience.
Knowledge is power
Consider this: if you have not studied martial strategy extensively, combat skills, self defence and fighting applications... how can you use taijiquan as a martial art?
There is no way you can use the Art without the requisite knowledge.
An earnest student has only one direction before them - upwards.
They need to climb and climb hard.
Read, practice, study.
Gain useful information, possess functional skills.
The greater the storehouse of knowledge you can draw upon in your taijiquan, the better your training will be.
8 April 1995
Last updated 03 April 2017