start a class

by Richard van Berkum on 2015/09/19

Hello everybody,

I am thinking about starting a class in my town. The main reason is that there is no practical method close by and to get my own regular training. I don’t know the whole Yilu form. My experience with practical method is mostly from the video’s of master Chen and of the workshops he taught in the Netherlands. Futher I am an experienced Aikido teacher and P.E. teacher. So I do have a background.

I have a few questions:

Is it acceptable to start a class and teach as I don’t know the whole form?

How do you guys structure class?

What are good (extra) exercises besides the foundations? Are there good partner exercises?

Are the first 13 moves enough to start a class?

Thanks in advance,





About Richard van Berkum

Aikido student interested in taiji principles and trying to learn from them.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelvin Ho September 19, 2015 at 8:49 pm

I would suggest that you seek to become an authorized instructor in Practical Method before teaching the system.


Richard van Berkum September 20, 2015 at 5:01 am

Hi Kelvin, thanks for your input. How? As I don’t have time and money to travel to China. There is no practical method instructor near by.


Kelvin Ho September 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

How long have you been practicing Practical Method? How many workshop have you attended? Would you like to post a video of your foundations and yilu? Are you mainly intending to form and lead a group to learn Practical Method together? Master Chen usually has workshop in other parts of Europe yearly, where you will be able to meet him. You will need to ask Master Chen if you would like to become an authorized instructor. People in this international school are always willing to help each other improve.


Ming September 20, 2015 at 6:01 am

[Disclaimer – this is my personal view.]

“Is it acceptable to start a class and teach as I don’t know the whole form?”

The Practical Method is best practice with friends and training partners. If you follow the videos provided by Master Chen, attend and consult with other students of the Practical Method, I think you can lead some groups in the study of the Practical Method. Over time, as you understanding and ability increase, you might want to spend more time and effort to talk with other Practical Methods practitioners to improve your own teaching abilities. In the end, Kelvin is right, there is no substitute for being an official representative.

How do you guys structure class?

John and Brennan in Ottawa just started their classes. Their class structure is a reasonable approach. They train three times a week for one to one and half hours. They cover the main components of the Practical Method that include: the foundations (both static and moving), the use of cords, then Yilu. As you progress, within each posture of Yilu you can explore the theoretical foundations as well as the practical applications. In the beginning, you do not need to cover the entire Yilu the emphasis is on correct movements.

As a personal note, I will also add some stretching, warm up and even conditioning exercises to help students to get ready for physical exercise since most students generally are not full time martial artists.

What are good (extra) exercises besides the foundations? Are there good partner exercises?

Using the cords are an extremely important component for training. Master Chen has an endless supply of exercises that highlights a particular concept found in the Practical Method so you can always implement some of those exercises. For example, the use of a foam block against the wall to stop the front knee moving when performing a circle or the use of the wall to emphases where the power originates.

Master Chen also have many two person drills to train sensitivity and reactions. So please consult the appropriate video.

Are the first 13 moves enough to start a class?

In my opinion, yes.

The first section (13 moves) is considered to be the core of the Chen style practical method. In many workshops and videos, Master Chen will use the first thirteen moves to illustrate an idea and concept. A solid foundation in the first section is essential for continued progress.

Thank you for your interest in promoting the Practical Method. You are willing to take the first step in a long and rewarding journey in understanding this training system. Master Chen has taken care and effort to document his understanding of these training methods through videos and workshops. There is also a vibrant and active Practical Method’s community that will help you along the way.


Richard van Berkum September 22, 2015 at 7:40 am

Thank you for your input Ming.


James Chan September 22, 2015 at 11:05 pm

I agree with Ming. The fact that there is no qualified practical method instructor in your area your best bet is to start a group of your own. If you are able to grow your group I would suggest invite Master Chen over for workshop or ask him to send someone qualified to lead a work shop or two. I have two suggestions for you:

1) To be successful in learning practical method you must follow Master Chen’s instruction, do not deviate, do not interpret Master Chen’s words, do not try to understand, do not over analyze, just do it.

2) You must leave your Aikido at home when trying to learn practical method. Absolutely do not mix the two. Do not try to learn practical method based on your understanding in Aikido.


Richard van Berkum September 24, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Hi James,

Thanks for your input. I do watch master Chen’s videos a lot.
Actually my aikido improved a lot when I started training the foundations. It’s not my idea to mix but to understand and learn principals. So no problem to keep them seperate.


pingwei September 23, 2015 at 7:31 am

If you are honest with your students, let them know that you are learning practical method as well, you should and could lead a class “to get your own regular training.” After all, you have attended Master Chen’s workshops before, and hope you will continue taking whenever possible.
I currently teach a beginner’s class as well as advanced classes. In beginner classes, I spend about 30 minutes on foundations, which include twisting towel, fetching water, positive circle, negative circle, double positive circle, double negative circle, stepping (forward and backward). The remaining 20 minutes on choreograph of Yilu moves, usually one move in one class. When the class progresses, I will adjust the amount of time on foundations and yilu.
Practical Method is a comprehensive system, requires a life time learning.


Richard van Berkum September 24, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Thank you for your overview of your class schedule.


Vinchent September 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

Hi guys,

Rene and me are training almost weekly in Utrecht, that is a bit far from your town. For your practical understanding and how a class works you should train some times with us. I have been doing a structured taiji PM class/exchange for one year now according to the training classes in DQS. I was in Daqingshan for two times a month now and for deeer understanding of the 13 and the whole yilu, it would be great to exchange with you, pleasesend me an e-mail
kind regards


Richard van Berkum September 24, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Hi Vincent,

Nice to see you here. We’ve met before on facebook and I follow your invites. We should meet again soon just to practice again. But Utrecht is to far away to train on a weekly basis.




vinchent September 25, 2015 at 11:23 am

hi Richard

please give me a e-mail, so I can ut you on the new invitationlist through e-mail only,



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