Chen Tai Chi First Routine
Laojia Yilu (老架一路), or Old Frame First Routine, is the first solo routine you will learn when you begin your study of our Chen style tai chi training program. This routine has a total of 75 postures (or movements), and is broken down into 6 separate sections. Each section is approximately the same length, and this helps make it easier for you to learn and memorize the whole sequence of postures.
First Routine forms the foundation for your tai chi practice
This routine forms the foundation for all future practice in our Chen style training program. It balances tai chi principles with technique.
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Since it is the first solo routine you will study, it is vital to learn it as thoroughly and completely as you can. This is how you will build a foundation in tai chi that lasts for your whole lifetime. That translates into dedicating time and effort to memorize each posture, movement, and tiny gesture as perfectly as possible.
This is accomplished first through many hours following your teacher’s movement, repeating each piece countless times, all the time developing strength, endurance, flexibility, silk reeling (tai chi’s continually spiraling full body movement) – all of this, until it is thoroughly imbedded in your mind and body.
Then, the next step is to develop a concentrated daily self practice to polish and refine your technique, all the time focusing on how softly and smoothly you can move, and on visualizing every possible self defense application within the structure of each tiny gesture.
At this stage in your training, it is so so important to find a great training partner to study the self defense applications of Laojia Yilu. This is a time consuming process, but it also challenges your level of skill, and it is fun!
Remember when practicing self defense applications to embody the principle of “cooperation, not competition”. (Soon I will dedicate an entire article to this principle – stay tuned).
Also during your daily practice, you must focus your full intention every moment to manifest all of the tai chi principles in your movement.
First routine is vital to establish the basis for the study, research, and practice of tai chi. Not only is this absolutely important in the sense of correct posture, spiral movement, and alignment with gravity, but also in how your practice transforms your understanding of physics and the application of tai chi principles.
It is through strictly following the principles that define what tai chi is, that you will develop true tai chi skill (gongfu) 太極功夫 .
First Routine is your ultimate teacher
This first form is sometimes referred to as the “encyclopedia” of tai chi. It teaches everything from the balance of yin and yang, principles and alignment of posture with gravity, how to use your whole body in every movement, how to open up your body to improve chi circulation, self defense applications, and much more.
Patience is a Virtue
When you practice Laojia Yilu, you must be always patient with yourself, and willing to invest tirelessly however much time is needed to understand every little detail. The rewards will be well worth it!
First Routine: The Real Payoff
It is through your daily concentrated practice of Laojia Yilu that you will learn how to manifest the essence of tai chi and why.
To do this requires full effort, concentration, dedication, and being fully capable of letting go of your vanity and false ego – these are the obstacles that block and prevent you from truly learning, absorbing, and understanding!
As a result of this intensity in training, your body will work harder than it ever did before – and you will surely, feel it!
It is not about merely practicing the form movements over and over again until your legs are burning and trembling.
It is about discovering who you are in body, mind, and spirit, and how you decide to cultivate these things.
You will be cultivating self discipline, self confidence, concentration skills, physical strength and endurance, and improved chi circulation. These all add up to better health, healing of chronic illness, pain and injuries, and a long happy and prosperous life.
Another thing you may not realize in this ongoing process, is just how strong your intention/will/mind becomes, and how this will transfer over and be of great use in your daily life.
My teacher, Grandmaster Wang Xi’an stated many many times during the years I studied with him in Chen Village, the importance of Laojia Yilu. He said “Laojia Yilu is your ultimate teacher. Everything you come to learn and understand about tai chi will be through your continuous efforts and study of this one form.”
For a more in depth look at tai chi, see the article entitled What is Tai Chi?
To view the opening movements of Old Frame First Routine click here (front view)*
To follow along with the opening movements, click here (rear view)*
*Footage of Dr. Bacher demonstrating the opening movements of Laojia Yilu on the beach in Pavones, Costa Rica – home of Tai Chi Immersions in Costa Rica.