By Martin Boedicker
In Tai Chi Chuan there are, besides the slow form, a series of weapon forms and the fast form. These forms are conducted dynamically with many changes in pace.
According to Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang, in the slow form the aspects stillness (jing), lightness (qing), slowness (man), conscientiousness (qie) and perseverance (heng) need to be taken into account. The dynamic forms are different from the slow form with regard to the third aspect, slowness. Slowness means that the movements are conducted in a controlled manner, yet lightly, evenly and flowing smoothly without any interruptions. (see Ma Jiangbao, p. 41)
In the dynamic forms the aspect of slowness is substituted by agility (ling). Agility manifests itself in four different characteristics, which must be taken into account during training. Only then can the qualities of the slow form translate into the mastery of fast movements. Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang write:
“In order to develop lightness, agility, suppleness (yuanhua) and dexterity (ziru), one has to heed four characteristics:
1. Break and turn alternate (duncuo xiangjian)
2. Hard and soft support each other (gangrou xiangji)
3. Fast and slow are in harmony (kuaiman xianghe)
4. The front and the back are connected. (qianhou xianglian)”
(Wu, Ma, p. 2)
For Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang the break, dun, manifests itself in central equilibrium (zhongding) and cuo, the turn, in the movements of jumping.
Ma Jiangbao explains that most movements in the dynamic forms end with a quick movement, which are accentuated by a brief break after them. The next movement always begins with a change in direction, which is often accompanied by a jump (which can also be a long sliding step). A jump or change of direction is cuo, the turn. Expounding on their explanation of the four characteristics, Wu Yinghua and Ma Yueliang write:
“The hard power (gangjin) uses strong fajin. The principle of softness (rouze) uses soft movements. This means that the hard power is followed by softness. The turn has to be quick. As far as the quickness is concerned: in it lies the turn. In the slowness is the stretching. The positions of the form have to be exact. From its very beginning all of the form has to be conducted naturally, the last movements have to be calm. They must not be neglected. This is the connection of the front and the back.”
(Wu, Ma, p. 2)
Ma Jiangbao explains that in the dynamic forms, individual positions are more stretched than in the slow form. Quite often this leads to a lower position. In spite of that, agility must not suffer.
· Ma Jiangbao, Tai Chi Chuan, Mach:Art, Ratingen 1998.
· Wu Yinghua, Ma Yueliang, Wushi Taijikuaiquan, Henan Kexue Jishu Chubanshi 1988.