I once heard about someone who knew dozens of Taijiquan forms. So he developed a mathematic program to decide on which day to practice which form. I would call him a Taijiquan Form Collector – someone who just learns all kinds of forms and then continues to practice them.
I have to admit: I am not a Form Collector. I am what you could consider the complete opposite: a Form Deepener. I actually learnt 2 different forms (long Yang form and 24 form), but I only practice the long Yang form. If I where better at maths I would rather write a program about when to intensify which move! I mean, who else thinks & writes about four ways to build the Beak Hand : Hello, I am Angelika and I am a detail freak.
I think most of the Taijiquan people fall more or less into one of these categories:
Taijiquan Form Collector vs. Taijiquan Form Deepener
Obviously, a Form Collector spending a lot of time on his art can dig deep in his forms. Just as a Form Deepener can learn more than one form. Though you might want to wait a bit before you learn too many forms:
“… consists of those who are eager for immediate results and careless of detail. Before a year is out they have already finished their study of the hand, two-edged sword, broadsword and spear forms. Although they are able to imitate the outer aspects of the form, in reality they are ignorant of its inner aspects.”
(Yang Family Secret Transmissions* p.4)
And to make it clear: I don’t say that one type is better than the other. I just want to emphasize that you need time to learn forms.
To me it was really helpful to understand that for me to be satisfied in my practice, I don’t need to learn a new form every year. I stick to my form. Forever. And though I go to different workshops, maybe even learn other forms, I always return to “my” form. It even overwhelms me that I now do a Taiji fan form, too. That is already almost too much for me to digest.
And though I know there are so many more weapons in Taijiquan, I am not sure if I want to get deeper into them. I know that if I focus on just the long Yang form and the Taiji fan, I will get much further than if I hop around.
But that’s just me. I want to encourage you to think about, which type you are. Because the people around you might be very different from you!
Just imagine that your teacher is a Taijiquan Form Collector. Every season he comes up with a new (short) form you should learn. Or I once went to a teacher where after you learned one form (in a couple of months), the class would continue with the next form.
From my personal experience I tell you: if you are a Form Deepener, you will not be very happy with a Form Collector-type teacher!
Or if you are a Form Collector and your teacher is a Form Deepener – he/she might dwell endlessly (= weeks) on one particular move. But you just want to move on. Not a perfect match, either.
I also remember that moment when I went to a “correction” class – I was told before that we could go deeper into the moves. I thought – wow, just the right thing for me – and started asking detailed questions e.g. where that fist points at. I was then told that I should not be too ambitious. Well, that’s just how I roll, I am a detail freak.
Obviously, that person who said that isn’t like me. Maybe he is a terrific Taijiquan Form Collector, I don’t know him well enough to say. I still like to go to that class and learn a lot when I’m there. But I hope that one day I will find another freakin’ Form Deepener like me! (Actually I bet my very first Taijiquan teacher was a Form Deepener just like me – oh how I miss her!)
And of course I want to know: what type are you? Do you love learning new fantasic forms? Or do you love getting into every freakin’ detail?