Chen Style Tai Chi Laojia Yilu, or Old Frame First Routine, is the first form/routine that you learn in Grandmaster Wang Xi’an’s system of Chen style tai chi. This 75 movement form is like the encyclopedia for tai chi. It not only forms the foundation for Chen style tai chi, but is also the basis for the other major tai chi styles today.
When we say that Laojia Yilu is like the encyclopedia for tai chi, this means that all of tai chi’s elements for cultivating good health and self defense for the whole lifetime are within its structure.
Old Frame First Routine teaches us how to stand, how to breathe, how to loosen up, how to silk reel (move in full body spirals), how to relax and “let go”, how to align our bodies with gravity, how to block, strike, kick, sweep, apply and escape joint locks (qinna), and much more.
In Grandmaster Wang Xi’an’s school in Chenjiagou, all of the students practice this form for a minimum of 2 years before learning other forms or Push Hands (partner training to develop self defense skills) or free fighting. This includes rigorous daily training (yes, Sundays too!) and very critical corrections by Master Wang and his senior students. When Master Wang feels a student has a deep enough understanding and can perform the entire sequence to his expectation, then the student is allowed to go on to the next step in his Chen style tai chi curriculum.
The result of this training method is that not only the student can remember and perform the entire sequence accurately with skill, but that the art of Chen style tai chi will be passed on to the next generation intact! In a day and age when instant self gratification is the rule, well… this just doesn’t work when it comes to “mastering” tai chi!
I am including a list of the names of the movements of Laojia Yilu, and an old video of me demonstrating the entire sequence.
Just a side note – since I began to study with Master Wang many years ago in China, he taught me many different forms – empty hand and weapons. In my daily practice, I really only practice Laojia Yilu, as I feel it is enough for this lifetime!
I have people contacting me on a regular basis and asking me to teach them other forms. But I politely smile and tell them no, that first they must demonstrate to me a good understanding and skill of Laojia Yilu. In this way, I am sure to do my part to pass on Master Wang’s lineage for future generations!
I strongly suggest to all tai chi practitioners to learn one traditional form and keep that as their main training method. Years of daily training will hone skills and a deep understanding and APPRECIATION for this subtle internal martial art!
I wish everyone good luck and I hope you are inspired to practice more diligently each day!