Tai Chi Advice and Resources Wanted

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Calvin Kirk, May 4, 2020.

  1. Calvin Kirk

    Calvin Kirk New Member

    Hi, I'm going to learn the Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi Form from this youtube playlist:

    Could someone answer a few questions for a beginner please? I'd like to know if this form has other names so I can see more videos and resources about it online.

    Also, could you recommend me more resources (paid and free) that teach this form or give more information about this form or tai chi in general (that would be useful for learning this form). I'd like videos, sites, articles, books anything will do.

    Thank you for you time.
  2. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Yang's form,and the forms of his disciples are known commonly as Yang,long,108,88,etc.Also other Yang versions known as short,37,etc.

    Lots of minor variations in the various disciples' executions-so nobody really looks the same.(Earle (in the video) studied w/one of Yang,Cheng-fu's eldest son's disciples).For example,doesn't look quite the same as form from Yang's nephew and longest student,Fu,Zhong-wen.Same sequence,tho'.

    You can read up on general T'ai Chi,and Yang system in particular for general advice/rules/methods but as far as the particular execution Earle is doing you'll have to follow his or his students' instructions.There are some of his folks on youtube.

    One other thing....I liked Earle-never met or communicated-but he kinda tripped out on attacking acupuncture points and whatnot in later years.So if something he says seems rather "different" just take a grain of salt.
    BTW-I have his instructional video on this form from back when his hair was dark and I still had mine.

    What is your MA/combat sports background,if any? That can help determine what books etc one can recommend.
    Grond likes this.
  3. Calvin Kirk

    Calvin Kirk New Member

    Thanks for the information El Medico.

    I have no martial arts background at all, I'm purely interested in tai chi/qigong as a mediational health practice. Currently I practice only the three circle stance as taught by earl and my body feels much better for it. I imagine doing tai chi will only increase that as well as improve my body awareness.
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  4. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    In person classes is the way to go, you need the feedback from an instructor to actually learn anything of value.
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  5. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Earle's stuff is controversial but good, I learned from one of his students about two decades ago and always preferred his stuff over the 24 Beijing form my sifu also taught. If you are learning from him don't look.outside his lineage stay with his videos,I believe his son still teaches and has an association so see if any one is near you
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  6. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    Eli is Earles son and his site is Taiji World

    There's a list of his instructors on there as well as other resources both free and paid for.
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  7. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    Just an observation, but I've been watching a lot of Tai Chi videos lately (free time and all), and quite frankly, it's hard to spot the difference between good, average, poor resources. This is important because after quarantine when I go Tai Chi master shopping, I want to be able to spot good instruction.For instance, I came across this video which at first seemed pretty straightforward. When I looked further online I found a decade long litany of criticism, and a lot of very bad mojo all around. But then watching the video again, nothing seems "wrong" about it, to my untrained eye.

  8. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Jake Mace-his "professional" name- has put out lots of vids on various MAs he really doesn't know much about.(Not that he's the only one,don't even LOOK at some of the "Ninjas" on ytube). He had a large youtube following his "traditional" CMAs.

    Consequently people familiar with such systems decried his inexpertise and ignorance of the subject matter. Among other things.

    Depending on what an individual desires from practice an instructor of kindergarten level knowledge and ability-but good kindergarten level knowledge and ability- can suffice if they are good at teaching,and know how to make sure folks don't damage themselves.

    But if by good instruction you mean more knowledge,methods,practices of TC......

    Can't go by looks.Some people look impressive,but so? Other people look like nothing in particular and whoa! And if you don't know what you're looking at-like Jake's arms in some vids moving with but not not moved by his body-caveat emptor.
    One thing which wouldn't apply to all instructors but can be something to look for even for the martially uninclined individual is a practitioner's partner training skills can be an indication of where they're at themselves and what they may impart in general. Some of these are things even older practitioners can still actualize.

    T'ai Chi instruction- 'tis a thorny thicket.

    P.S. Apologies to all for misspelling Erle's name in previous post.
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  9. Calvin Kirk

    Calvin Kirk New Member

    Personally I can tell by looking at his form he is not good, I would have turned away from him immediately.

    I've decided to buy the video from taijiworld.com, there are a lot of video's on there that can be used afterwards such as one on beginner mistakes. I toyed with the idea of learning the short form first but couldn't find any particular video I felt sure about.

    Could someone help me clear something up, there's the Yang Chen-Fu form and the Yang Lu-Chan form, the video in my OP is one of those two, the other is the one that includes more combat oriented things like flying kicks, which is which? Is there a short form for each one? Because I wanted to learn the short form of the one taught by Earle in the video I posted.

    I did find this series on youtube () that teaches the short form but the teacher interjects all the combat applications of the moves and makes me wonder if at some point I'm gonna be doing flying kicks and fa-jing movements. I don't want to do that kind of stuff, which is why I went for the form in my OP, on taijiworld.com it says that form is for people who aren't interested in the martial applications and purely want the health benefits that tai chi can bring.
  10. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    You just said you were a beginner didn't you? I'm not even a beginner, more like prototype, so how can you tell by looking the form is not good? El Medico seems to think it's at least OK, with some criticism but superficial at that. To me, it looks good because I have no real way to measure other than visual aesthetics, which are objectively "good" in the video. He is displaying a decent amount of artistic grace, at least, is my point, whether or not it is canonical Tai Chi. Clearly he is not one of the scions of Tai Chi but as an example of what someone who trains Tai Chi might end up looking like, he's a good example.

    Now, with respect to canonical Tai Chi, I'm sure his video is superficial at best because he is clearly at best an experienced student of Tai Chi, rather than someone famous for their orthodoxy? Boxing is a very similar art, there are about a trillion videos out there of people superficially boxing, from Boxercise onward, and they look amazing (ly fit). But in the real boxing world, you've got plenty of people who don't look great on camera but will knock you into your next life. I'm sure it has to be the same with Tai Chi.

    Or to just sum up with Medico said, looks are deceiving.
  11. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Yang Chen-Fu form is the one without the jumps and explosive movements the Yang Lu-Chan had them.

    I think the whole of the Yang Chen Fu form done by earle is in the website now free, and the first third of the old Yang Lu Chan form is up as well
  12. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Actually that isn't what I got out of El Medico's post. He said
    That is NOT a mild superficial critique. That is a big problem. A lack of understanding of a huge principle of TCC.

    FWIW, I also would personally steer clear of his video's. Other principles of TCC, the way I am taught it are missing from that video clip. Like his elbows are not down, but out way too often. Another one for me is he is too collapsed in some moves. (Now to be fair, that is something particularly stressed in my lineage, you will see a ton of TCC out there where this is accepted more widely.)

    As a side note- he absolutely butchers a form in another style. His "Shaolin 5 Animal" form is just :rolleyes:. So, after seeing that, anything else he does starts from a place of no credibility to me. I will say his TCC isn't as awful as his Shaolin 5 animal.

    As to how to tell, that isn't easy. I remember watching TCC when I first started TCC and it all looked good! As I got more advanced, I picked up on details being not done great, but I didn't know enough to catch it before. The opposite was also true. Some things that looked funny to me as a beginner where just my lack of understanding. I would go back to a video clip years later and appreciate advanced details that I just couldn't grasp before. Unfortunately, I am not sure what the answer is here. But I would say maybe do some reading up on the principles of TCC. Since you have experience in other martial arts, I don't think all of what you read will be completely alien. Then, look for the principles when watching a video, rather than if the moves look artistically graceful?

    As an example: Here is a clip describing a drill for the principle of keeping the elbows down in TCC. Even without doing the drill (I haven't), once you understand the concept, you can look for proper elbow position in watching videos.
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  13. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Calvin,Icefield is correct in answering your question.

    The Yang,Lu-chan form,which is supposed to actually be from Yang,Cheng-fu's older brother is actually a fun form if you like fajinnin' and leapin' a bit.,I played around with it for awhile off the video years ago.

    hahahahahahaha! That's the form Erle learned from his teacher who was a disciple of the oldest son of Yang,Cheng-fu. Erle got applications out of those teachings ere he learned the older form.

    Yeah,Grond.That's serious junk coming from a guy purporting to be an instructor. Be nice if he got rid of his consistently tipped hips,too-look at his lower back,it never straightens,even when he assumes a raised knee posture.

    Visual aesthetics and artistic grace? Who cares.Anyone can move slow and look "nice" to most people. Experienced student? Maybe,if he'd truly studied with someone other than the Shaolin-do founder.
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  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    Jake Mace trained under a lineage that makes claims and assertions that are suspect at best. The leader of that lineage, Sin The, claims to be THE rightful head of Shaolin, and runs his gym in Lexington, KY.

    Over the years there have been a lot of charges of deceit and sometimes outright fraud leveled at Sin The. At some point he and Jake ended up on opposite ends of a court case where I think Jake was being sued for stealing the material from Sin The, or teaching without proper authority or somesuch, that came from their falling out. I believe that in the context of that court case, Sin The actually admitted to having simply made up a lot of the material that he and his followers teach under the guise of old, authentic Shaolin.

    Ive Also seen claims that Sin The copied what he found in books and videos to pad out his curriculum. Last I heard, he claims to teach dozens of styles with some 900 forms, under the banner of “Shaolin-do”. Which is ridiculous.

    So knowing the history of where he learned his material is clue to the likely quality of Jake Mace’s material. The guy is very fit, that is true. But that in no way is indicative of the quality of his martial training and teaching.

    Full disclosure: I had some experience with the Sin The Shaolin-do Lineage back when I was in college in about 1990. I was a kenpo guy and had no experience with Chinese martial arts at that time. I worked out with a fellow on campus from that lineage. I was ignorant enough to be somewhat taken in by the stories. Later, when I moved to San Francisco where the Chinese martial arts community is much larger and I began to witness some authentic stuff, I began to question that whole experience with Shaolin-do.

    In all fairness, I believe what is being called Shaolin-do was probably once a legitimate Kuntao, a Chinese system that had been brought into Indonesia by immigrants and gradually became a local system over several generations. Sin The, I believe, is ethnic Chinese but comes from Indonesia. There are lots of these kuntao systems and they can be very good and worthwhile. But I believe that when he came to the US in the 1960s or so, he saw an opportunity to spin a tall tale for profit, and he created “Shaolin-do” and began to pad out the curriculum in dubious ways.
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  15. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I need to scroll up and see that Yang Lu-Chan form. Sounds interesting!

    Right? Exactly what you say here in the second part I quoted. This is an all too common misconception about TCC. I have had this disagreement multiple time on various martial arts forums. Tai Chi Chuan is NOT just any style of martial arts done slowly. What makes TCC is the principles behind the movements. Yet, the idea that TCC is just moves done slowly from any style persists out there. It's annoying.
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  16. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Taiji Chuan is like university level class. You have to finish grade school and high school to build up foundation first before you can enter the university.

    Just like the ballroom dancing, first you have to learn the basic steps. In MA, first you have to learn the stances. You then learn the transition between stances. After that, you then learn the solo form.

    My long fist teacher won't teach his students any Taiji until they have at least 3 years of long fist training. IMO, if you have no MA background, to jump right into the Taiji system is not a good idea.

    For example, when you change from horse stance into bow-arrow stance, do you turn on the ball of your back foot, or do you turn on the heel of your back foot. You need to have these kind of knowledge in your grade school, or high school training. You don't want to wait until your university class to worry about basic thing like this.


    Yang Taiji 108 moves forms has 3 parts.

    1st part - 20 moves.
    2nd part - 30 moves.
    3rd part - 58 moves.

    Here is the 108 moves Yang Taiji form.

    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  17. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I disagree. I absolutely think one can learn TCC without learning another art first.

    Many people all over the world become proficient in TCC without studying any other art.

    Now, do I find that knowing CLF and TCC both is beneficial? Yes. Does a background in one martial art sometimes make it easier to learn a second art? Yes. I find my two arts compliment each other and that knowing both deepens and helps me with each individual art. But it isn't necessary and it isn't something with TCC specifically compared to other styles.
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  18. Grond

    Grond Valued Member

    Uh...OK. I don't know what I just stepped in but it feels about right given the topic. I'm not qualified or enlightened enough to answer a lot of that. Honestly, like I said, it's hard to measure good, average, poor, bad without some objective criteria. Otherwise I'm blinded by my eyes. That Jake Mace video, by the way, is the second most popular Tai Chi video on Youtube.com, next to this one. A lot to unpack, clearly. As far as detecting poor quality, I guess I'm stuck at amateur level but I'm still curious how other "beginners" are able to differentiate good from bad.

  19. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    It's not that hard
    1 popularity doesn't mean they know what they are doing just they market well
    2 try not to learn solely from on line sources
    3 research their lineage before you buy
    4 if all you want is health and exercise try yoga or pilates lot easier to find good stuff and well it's better for your health in lots of ways
  20. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    @ aardia-go to taiji world to see some of the older Yang form of Erle's

    Possible,but there's nothing in what's known to assume this.

    Except we have a long list of people who only studied T'ai Chi.Like all those guys named Chen,past and present.

    The only well known CMA which would seem by its founders actions to require some MA knowledge prior to learning it is Pa Kua.Tung,Hai-chuan would only teach Pa Kua to individuals who had some experience in other systems.If they didn't,like his first disciple Yin Fu, he taught them Lohan.

    It simply comes down to what exactly you're learning. It's not like TC lacks basic pugilistic practices-punching,footwork,stancework,etc. and they should be concurrent with what the public commonly perceives as TC practice.If you want to use it,at least.

    So explain to me why it wasn't a good idea for me to jump right into TC w/no MA background.

    Nice ta "see" ya,Mr. W.!

    That's ok,there are plenty of people who have practiced for years who couldn't either! One of the problems in the TC world.

    For most they can't.But I've also known experienced MA people who couldn't see the TC they were learning was poor.Don't feel bad.

    These are the two most popular "T'ai Chi" vids on ytube? :confused:

    It's what's being taught,not how someone looks.Here are some clips with substance-

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