This past weekend, I attended a workshop for the Yang style two person set. This is a fundamental set that teaches and includes applications for the postures found in the solo form. This form has contributed greatly to my development as a martial artist in general and specifically as a player of Taijiquan. This isn’t a blog about that form though, instead it is a blog about change.
Every time I go back to a review or workshop of this form, there are subtle(sometimes more than subtle) changes. In the specific case of this form, the changes are refinements made for a variety of reasons, but each has either represented a different way of teaching the application, a refinement of a neutralization or application, or of footwork/direction.
Fundamentally, I am all on board for change, but truth be told, I am not very comfortable with change, once I have something working, and/or I am in charge of the change. Leaving the workshop my Kung Fu brother and I were discussing the refinements that we had gotten, most were minor, but there was one that seemed very major to me, it was a complete redo of the footwork through a neutralization into the follow-on application. Please remember, this was a move that I had learned around 16 years ago, and had been practicing regularly. It was a move that worked for me, even when playing with a level of intention, and non-compliance.
Why would I want to change this move?
I am not 100% sure about why this move changed, I have my ideas. Boiled down to a nutshell, it was probably changed because people were having difficulty executing the other move, the other move to be executed with stability required practice, and knowledge of a non-basic stance. Does that make it better or worse. Does it really matter.
All systems experience this!
At various times I hear practitioners of all systems lamenting the changing of forms. I have even heard many say that the current Yang Style of Taijiquan is no longer martial and that the “Lao Jia”or Old Frame is better. I think my teacher “Lao Ma” summed it up best by telling us a story about T.T. Liang. He said that often students at Liang Shifu’s seminars would lament that he had done something different the last time that they had been with him. Purportedly, Liang Shifu would get real close to them, and ask if they knew the Yi Jing. Everything changes.
If our intent is simply to learn the forms, exactly as they are taught, and preserve them that way, then we have missed one of the real lessons of Taiji.
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