Thursday, April 16, 2015

8 Ways to Memorize Your Tai Chi Form

Tai Chi does not just improve health; practicing and learning the forms also helps improve your memory. New students often ask me how to memorize the forms, so I share some of my experiences below.

1.   Facing of the Palms

My late father, Master Zhang Lu Ping, taught me various memory aids for placement of the palms. Consider Peng as used in Brush Peacock’s Tail; it is like holding a mirror with the palm facing in. If Peng is used with the hand facing out, you are pushing open a door. If the hand faces in, you are holding a baby. When the palm faces up, you are lifting a plate. When the palm faces down, you are bouncing a ball.

2.   Circles
There are many circles in Tai Chi form and considering them all could be complicated. I suggest you consider only two circles; clockwise and counterclockwise.

3. Stances
There are only four major stances.
-Opening Stance (Opening form)
-Bow Stance
-Horse Stance
-Empty Stance (heel OR toes on the ground)

4.   Arm Transitions: Peng and Lu ( or Ward Off and Roll Back)

If you perform Peng, you must next perform Lu. If you perform Lu, you must next perform Peng. If you open you must next close, if you close you must next open. You cannot perform Peng-Peng or Lu-Lu; it must be Peng-Lu or Lu-Peng. Understanding this will prevent mistakes and help you memorize the arm

5.   Foot Transitions: Weight Transfers

There is always a weight transition between movements. If all your weight is on one leg, it is not empty and you cannot lift it. You must transfer weight to the other leg to make the first leg empty; then you may lift the first leg. Always transfer weight between forms; from full to empty, empty to full.

6.   Associate the Movement with the Name

Whether Single Whip or White Crane Spreads its Wings, connect the form name with the moves that link it together.

7.   Use in Application

Although some students are most interested in the health benefits of Tai Chi, it is often easier to remember forms if you learn their applications. You might not want to learn how to fight, but the martial applications will help you visualize movements and memorize the forms.

8. Repeating single movements in the forms is the best way to remember.

Continued practice, learning a little at a time, will move your forms from short-term memory to long-term memory.

2015 Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi