Knowledge : Learning Method

Kelvin Ho Fist Drape Over Body

When I first studied practical method in Nov. 2009, there were a few things that made a long lasting impression. They were:

  1. In with elbow no hand, out with hand no elbow.
  2. Don’t move
  3. Yilu, which is made up of only positive and negative circles.

Many beginners including myself usually ask the following questions:

  1. How did you (Master Chen) know to do that?
  2. How can I not move?
  3. What can I do that myself?
  4. How do I train that?

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Richard JohnsonShifu Chen Zhonghua often emphasizes how to learn Taijiquan. This web site has a great article called 6 Methods of Learning Tai Chi. (Read this if you have not already.) It expands and elaborates on Grandmaster Hong’s “Look, Listen, and Ask” practice method.

In motor control research, I found the neurological basis for this method of learning. There are neurological mechanisms called mirror neurons. The basic premise is when we see a person do something, mirror neurons fire off in our brain attempting to duplicate the pattern in our nervous system required to copy the movement. At first, it is an imperfect copy because it follows old neurological pathways. With repeated viewing of the action, our brains and nervous system do a really good job of creating new neurological pathways to accurately copy the movement. Read more

1) Shovel out the front heel
2) Land the front toes and knee together
3) Extend the hands out

Note: Don’t push the opponent in step 1 and 2.