Traditional Tai Chi Slow Form - Wu Style (Wu Jian Quan)
Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) is one of the three largest 'internal' martial arts schools in China. These three are Tai Chi, Bagua and Xing Yi. In this case 'internal' refers to the emphasis on internal power or Qi/Chi. This is not to say that these martial arts are soft or weak. The physical body is strong and powerful but this power is hidden in relaxation and readiness to move. This relaxed but ready state is the key to Qi circulation and control.
The Tai Chi slow form is made up of the practical martial arts movements of the form linked together to make a set. In addition to the movements themselves the connection/transition points are also martial arts applications. The long term training of these movements make them ever more fluid and natural and second nature to the practitioner over time. This imprints the form on the memory and allows the mind and body to relax and follow the movements.
The Slow form trains the body, calms the mind, circulates and builds Qi. The majority of the training involves mental training, how to keep the mind and breath smooth, regular and calm. In a self defence situation, the mind can then easily stay in its calm place without the adrenalin rush and loss of clear thought. It is through learning Tai Chi as a martial art that its health benefits are gained.
The Slow form is the starting point for further learning. It will teach posture, relaxation, strengthen the body and improve understanding of Qi. For people who are interesting in learning the martial application of the movements, pushing hands classes are recommended. Wu style also has a Fast Form which is in fact the original style. This form is made up of the same movements, in the same sequence, however the application is quite clear. This form is performed in approximately 3-5 minutes, with the slow form taking approximately 20 minutes.
The majority of students both in our college and around the world study and practise Tai Chi slow form. The straight sword is the most popular weapon. The slow form is the common form to everyone and the extra forms chosen by students depends on individual preferences. It is not necessary to practise all forms or to learn martial arts application if that is not of interest. The form itself improves physical health, calms the mind and deepens understanding of Qi. However students interested having a more thorough understanding of the form would benefit from some hand to hand experience. This teaches in very clear way how to control balance and posture.
As with any skill, Tai Chi takes time to master. The benefits gained will be in direct relation to the amount of effort put into learning and practising. The learning of the external form the first step. The next stage is a lifelong practise of building and circulating Qi.
Notes for Students
Wu Style Tai Chi Slow Form
A list of the full 108-forms (movements).