Tai Chi Form: Traditional vs Modern

The purpose of this article is to define the differences between traditional and modern (competition) tai chi forms.

Please do not dismiss traditional tai chi training methods in exchange for modern forms.  Keep in mind that modern forms were created based on the traditional ones.

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Sometimes in the creation of modern forms, important theory and principles are ignored, and valuable components vital to define this subtle internal art are left out. When this happens, we are at best left with pretty, empty movements with maybe little or no substance.

In today’s world in which we are constantly challenged to balance our time between tai chi practice and daily responsibilities, it is easy to choose modern forms over traditional ones – they are mostly shorter and the movements easier to learn and memorize.

Teaching tradition

When Grandmaster Wang Xi’an authorized me to teach his system of Chen style tai chi, I asked him how to teach, what methods should I employ?  He answered immediately saying, make sure to teach the form very exactly and specifically.

The form is the tai chi encyclopedia

Years later, I understood why it was so important for him that I teach exactly as he taught me so patiently – If I change even one small detail from the way he taught me, the art is changed forever. Because of this, I am always very careful and sensitive to teaching very patiently exactly how to perform the form movements.

Tai chi’s value

There is an ancient Taoist saying:
The questions is not whether something is easy or difficult to learn.
The questions is, is it worth learning?
If the answer is yes, than it doesn’t matter how difficult or how long it takes to learn – because IT IS WORTH IT! The value is priceless!

Make time for practice

I hope everyone will consider the words above, and continue to train more diligently to cultivate tai chi’s wonderful internal benefits for health and self defense. Make time every day for tai chi practice! One day you will feel the benefits and realize it could be the wisest decision you have ever made!

Beware of the weekend tai chi teacher certificate

In the second part of this article will discuss the certification of tai chi teachers, and why it is important to avoid the “weekend teacher” certificate.

Tai Chi can not be learned in a weekend, and certainly not well enough to teach it!  Beware of fake tai chi teachers who  advertise that you can be qualified to teach tai chi after a weekend workshop.  This is absurd, and these fake teachers are criminals!

Traditional vs modern tai chi forms: A visual comparison

Below I have posted two links demonstrating a traditional tai chi form and a modern competition form. Please watch them both, and you can decide which one you prefer:

Traditional tai chi form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhsM0BlnNTo

Modern competition form: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU4PLwUXkFM&t=2s

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    1. Beautifully said. Criminal is a good description of these fake Tai Chi imposters giving weekend certificates. The sad part is the innocent, ignorant people who don’t know any better and believe the imposters.

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