Sunday, May 30, 2010

So much variety: where to start?

Today I completed learning the Eight Immortals Cane Routine taught by Master Jesse Tsao. It has been a lot of fun. Of course, learning the form is only the very beginning. I think it will take a long time to really understand the form and get the most from it.

But it does raise the questions: how to begin to choose from so much variety in taiji; what is the best way to learn; and how to fit it in to a limited practice time? My "inventory" of forms I have learned so far is:

  • Warm up in 18 forms
  • Yang 24 form
  • Eight Piece Brocade qigong
  • Eight Immortals cane Routine One
  • Various qigong standing postures
Each builds on the other and once you have learned how to sink chi, walk forward and backward, differentiate substantial and insubstantial, basic hand movements etc. new forms are easier. I have found that I manage one new lesson a week (as taught by Master Jesse). Each lesson contains around 4 or 5 fairly intricate movements. Then I practice the new movements the following week adding them to the parts of the form I have already learned. Over time it builds up. It means that for a form with 12 lessons, I can learn it about three months of daily practice.

The next trick is determining what to practice each day. Most of us are limited in time we can give to meditation or exercise. However limited the time I think each day needs some warm up (joints and chi flow), qigong meditation, form already learnt and something new. That would be very difficult to fit into, say, 15 mins. I find a minimum of 45 mins allows me to accomplish the above. Better with and hour or more. I try to learn new movements at the weekend when I have more time to devote to the learning.

Links for the cane form:

Eight Section Brocade:

What kind of cane to use?

You can buy specialized martial arts canes from Cane Masters.

I bought one from Summit Walking Staffs. Mine is a sumac root cane. Very pretty, quite sturdy, very pretty and great for practice. They are $20-25 plus $5 shipping. I got mine on ebay. You can see them here.


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