Taijiquan-articles-nick Section

About Nick Gudge’s Articles on Taijiquan

 My articles can be grouped in to five types: General Articles for Beginners, Technical Articles for Serious Student, More Advanced Technical Articles, Articles on Teaching and finally Other Articles. My articles are grouped accordingly below.

 General Articles for Beginners

  1. Beginning Training in Taijiquan
  2. A Good Teacher
  3. Good Understanding
  4. Good Practice
  5. Beginners Skills – Loosening and Stretching
  6. The Process of Training Taijiquan
  7. The Value of Practicing a Foundation Form
  8. Why I Practice Forms?
  9. What Can I Do to Improve My Taijiquan

 Technical Articles for serious students

  1. Silk Reeling Motion
  2. commentary on beginning training Silk Reeling with Wang Hai Jun
  3. Loosening the Hips – Song Kua
  4. Coiling, Winding and Twisting – Opening and Closing
  5. Chen Style Taijiquan’s Six Stage Learning Process
  6. Gaining Taijiquan Skill: Part A: Theory
  7. Gaining Taijiquan Skill: Part B: Beginning Training - Getting to Level 1
  8. Gaining Taijiquan Skill: Part C: Training in Level 1
  9. Gaining Taijiquan Skill: Part D: Training in Level 2

More Advanced Technical Articles 

  1. Turning, Twisting and Coiling
  2. Beyond Song Kua – using the hips
  3. Freeing the Dantien
  4. Dang Jin – a bridge to power
  5. Ta Yao – collapsing the waist

Articles on Teaching Taijiquan

  1. Teaching Taijiquan 1: Some Observations and Analysis
  2. Teaching Taijiquan 2: Motivation & Progress
  3. Teaching Taijiquan 3: Suggestions for Beginning Teaching
  4. Teaching Taijiquan 4: Why does it commonly not work?
  5. Teaching Taijiquan 5: Effective Teaching Methods

Other Articles 

  1. Qi – what the masters say: a search of the literature
  2. The Thirteen Actions in Chen Taijiquan Sword


About my Taijiquan Articles and Writing

I began writing seriously about taijiquan in the mid 1990’s after I moved to Ireland. I was studying laojia with Chen Xiao Wang and then body mechanics with Mike Sigman and shortly after began to study xinjia with Zhang Xue Xin. I wanted some written materials to help me remember various principles and corrections and to provide some written material to improve the understanding of my students. There was very little published material I was comfortable recommending. Looking back, my first efforts were poor but I have persisted. My writing efforts improved dramatically as my relationship with Wang Hai Jun developed from 2003 and I spent a significant amount of time listening to him answer various questions on taijiquan in seminars, in transit, in hotel rooms and over meals.

This process was fraught with difficulties of my own making. Wang Hai Jun’s frequent hesitation in answering various questions I put to him baffled me. At first I thought there was a language comprehension problem or reluctance but over the years I have come to realise that most of my questions were not very appropriate to the learning of taijiquan and that answering them was naturally going to cause some hesitation. At a camp in the UK he said unequivocally that “beginners ask too many questions.” I realise this as true beyond doubt. Perhaps of equal importance is that most of these questions are simply inappropriate and the answers will not be of any assistance to the person posing the question in gaining taijiquan gong fu.

Questions are generally aimed at two objectives: improving understanding and improving socialisation or social interaction. It can be awkward or socially inappropriate to separate the two clearly sometimes. The area I am interested in is improving understanding. For many years I simply went about this in various inappropriate ways. My science background led me to believe that the best way to improve my understanding was to formulate theories and test them out. Unfortunately this is a very slow way of making progress. A far quicker method is to find someone who already knows and listen to what they have to say.

This is not a question of intelligence. If a modern theoretical physicist met Einstein, who would be doing the listening (at least initially?) The fact is, Einstein would do the listening so he might quickly arrive at the current understanding (or skills base.) This is not because the modern theoretical physicist is smarter than Einstein, rather that they have been given a great deal of understanding worked out over the years since Einstein’s death. Einstein’s work would have progressed more quickly if he had been able to ask today’s scientists which areas to avoid and which to concentrate on.

Learning happens in a similar fashion with taijiquan students. When it is clear what to concentrate on then progress is made. When it is not clear what to concentrate on then progress is made occasionally, in fits and starts, or not at all. There are very few people who have reached a level of skill in taijiquan that they can be considered real masters. Of those that have, all of them are Chinese. Until very recently most of what they had to say, that was available in English, was in the form of magazine articles. At best, there were one or two of these each year, and they were subject to the interpretation of both translator and magazine editor. In my opinion, historically both of these interpretations have detracted significantly from what these high level masters have had to say. So I conclude, from my own experience, that historically and currently it is very hard for the overwhelming number of taijiquan students to know what to concentrate on to make progress.

My articles are an attempt to make sense of the understanding of my teacher. They have unfortunately been filtered through my own thought patterns and are limited by my own limited taijiquan skill. This being said I am one of only a small number of non-Chinese students to reach the upper-half of Level 2 gong fu in Chen style taijiquan. These articles are the summation of ten years of learning from my teacher, practicing and writing. I wrote as a memory aid, to record and clarify what I had been taught by Wang Hai Jun. Each piece has taken many years to write and I still revise them. However these articles are at a place now where I am comfortable for others to read them. I think they are a constructive approach to improving understanding for a serious taijiquan student.