Tai Chi videos worth watching

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Some of the best (and worst) Tai Chi videos i’ve come across.

There are a lot of Tai Chi videos available online which can help to train your ‘eye’.

The old Tai Chi classics advise you to ‘carefully discriminate’ in selecting your training methods and training environment. When you’re a beginner it’s very difficult to know what’s good or bad in Tai Chi training, and in fact it can be difficult for people who have been practicing for a few years. I was lucky to be exposed to good (and bad) training techniques and environments at an early age and have also seen many others waste time on less than optimal training techniques or be part of a flawed training approach/environment.

So in this list of videos ill try to share the good things i see and also in a few cases some of the bad.

 

 

A classical Wu style long form video by Lee King Lam

Mr Lee shows excellent control of his techniques and as very advanced level of refinement in all aspects of his movements. A very precise rendition of the traditional Wu style Tai chi form, which when does round (as in the video) is essentially the same as our Wudang Tai Chi Chuan long form. Minor criticism is that some techniques are disjointed and the emphasis is more on tidiness than a full body expression of power, so not as martially useful as some

An excellent video showing a full range of Wudang Tai Chi Chuan methods

This is a great video for those new to Tai chi and also more advanced students (particularly of the Wudang style), which shows a good range of Wudang Tai Chi training activities. It features a student of sifu Cheng Tin Hung (Ho Hin Kwei I believe) and one of his students. There is a good section on square and round hand form practice. They demonstrate some solid applications of the movements in a practical way. They then move onto showing the sabre, sword and spear forms as well as some excellent applications. Also of interest is a little section where the two younger students spar. One of the students seems extremely adapts at mixing up a good variety of Tai Chi kicks, punches, slaps and trapping moves. He also has some nice changes of angle and rhythm. Very nicely done.

Wu style tai chi low frame

In Tai Chi there is the concept of doing your form practice in one of three ‘frames’; large, medium or small. This practitioner is practicing his form at an especially low level, which was traditionally a common method of training. Benefits include development of extremely strong legs and core, as well as improving fitness and toughness. Some people reputedly practiced their forms underneath tables to ensure they stayed deep in their stances. If you haven’t tried low frame give it a go, it’s extremely difficult. Just be careful with your knee and ankle alignment.

A very early Wu style video (maybe the earliest?)

This is one of the earliest recorded videos of the Wu style form being performed, as well as some of the pushing hands drills. Interesting points for me are the fact that it is very similar to the form shown by Cheng Wing Down, who was Cheng Tin Hung’s uncle, and also a disciple of Wu Chien Chuan). The demonstrator is Chu Minyi, who was a prominent politician as well as being a Tai Chi man. The pushing hands drill shown looks much closer to the ‘four directions’ drill of Wudang Tai Chi than it does the ‘standard wu style’ pushing hands used in other branches of Wu style Tai Chi.

A nice version of Baduanjin – often used as a warm up in many Tai Chi classes

Baduanjin is an old Qigong exercises system that is designed to work on a few levels, including benefiting the internal organs and minor parts of the body often neglected. This gentleman has clearly spent a lot of time doing these and shows tremendous flexibility in all the major movements.

Chubby dude uses high level push hands skills to dominate more muscular man

A great demonstration of a man with good Tai Chi pushing hands skills easily controlling a dominating a more powerful and bigger man. One of the key concepts in pushing hands is being ‘song’ and also sticking to the opponent. A lot of European players dont cultivate a good level of ‘song’ or pliable softness and so don’t end up with the same level of reaction time, sensitivity or starting speed.

Wu style sword form

Edward Mak demonstrates the Wu style Tai Chi sword in impressive fashion. Edward always shows exceptional body awareness, control and precision of technique, coupled with tremendous flexibility and high movement quality. Good inspiration for those practicing sword.

Some Tai Chi conditioning practice using a tree

In this video we see some Yang Ban Hou lineage practitioners demonstrate some of their Tai Chi conditioning practices on a tree. Very nice use of focussed fa-jin, using all parts of the body. Particularly impressive is their use of ‘kao’ which is striking with the back or shoulders, which is difficult to do in such a refined way, where you get the whole body working perfectly together.

The butterfly king

Chang Dong Sheng, was the last man to win the original all-China full contact Lei Tei competition, before it was disbanded. He ended up in Taiwan and was given the nickname ‘flying butterfly’.  His original style was Chinese wrestling, which you can see in the first part of the video. Most styles of Chinese martial arts include wrestling techniques, though his style prioritised it. He was also a skilled Tai Chi man, as we can see in the video, showing a hand form that is characterised by great structure and smooth high quality movement. Again it reminds me of early video footage of Cheng Tin Hung, in terms of structure, rhythm and and movement quality.

Chen style pushing hands

Chen Ziqang is a practitioner of ‘Chen’ style Tai Chi, from the actual Chen family and village. As such he would have begun training in the art at an early age. In this video you can see him practicing his freestyle pushing hands skills.  What we can see is great technique and structure, excellent adaptability in terms of exploiting the actual voids in his partners position and intent. He’s also extremely explosive, as a good Tai Chi man should be.

Tai Chi single practice

Tai Chi single practice of form movements is beneficial for a number of reasons, including building up familiarity with very useful techniques and movement patterns, as well as refining skill and coordination etc. Some practitioners also use it to build up the ability to express power explosively, one of the key skills in Tai Chi. In this video we can see Yang Ban Hou lineage practitioners skilfully emitting their fa jin, while keeping technical details perfect.

The monkey king of Hong Kong

Ok this one isn’t a Tai Chi video but it’s good to watch for anyone interested in martial arts, featuring the legendary Chan San Chung. He was the leader of the Monkey style of kung fu in Hong Kong, and actually a good friend of the head of our Tai Chi school, Cheng Tin Hung. His system also produced some of the most successful full contact kung fu fighters in Asia and was a fascinating combination of movement training and conditioning through the monkey forms and direct straight forward fighting techniques, via another aspect called ‘Pek War’.

Dai Family single practice

This is another video that isn’t Tai Chi, but it is an internal martial arts system which also evolved from Taoist sources, apparently being kept intact within the Dai family for many generations. They have a strong tradition of ‘internal alchemy’ training to help their health/power and some of these resemble some of our Tai Chi neigong exercises.  In my opinion this is some of the best solo training i’ve seen, with this older gentleman showing exceptional stamina, grace, technique and power. The speed at some points is also incredible, and shows what can be achieved by combine deep tranquility with refinement drills and single practice.

Scottish Wudang Tai Chi

Ian Cameron was one of the first people from the West to train with Cheng Tin Hung. He has kept his teachings as close as possible to the original methods. This makes his videos essential watching for anyone involved in the Wudang system as a great resource for various subtleties and nuances within the various drills. Ian has spent decades training hard and there is a good degree of subtlety to his techniques, which a lot of the current generation could benefit from observing. Great structure, timing and touch as well as coordination.

Old school Wu style – excellent

Wu Tai Kwei, part of the Wu family and grandson of Wu Chien Chuan. It is said that Wu Chien Chuan gave him special attention in teaching him, which shows in this video. You can see very subtle applications of some key hand form movements, applied with beautiful leverage. You can also see him doing his sword form, with an incredible level of precision and control. The foot pivots and spirals are exceptional, and for me are one of the key benefits of practicing sword – always seems to improve my footwork control immensely.

Tai Chi self defence

A couple of guys from somerset who learned from Paul Rogers. Paul learned from Mr Long (in Malaysia) who was a friend/student/training partner of Cheng Tin Hung.  So it’s a similar lineage to the Wudang style, what I like is that these guys simply train in a very straightforward and practical way, without any ‘posing’ or flashiness. This is rare these days in the Tai Chi community, with most people over emphasising the appearance – which is the opposite of the original idea. Here they do a range of simple applications, well performed from two handed push hands.

Tai chi self defence move

This video shows one of Ian Cameron’s people teaching parry and punch. He does a good job of linking the structure and technique of the form, with the correct practical application of the movement. The forms are generally quite close in structure to how they should be applied, usually requiring some modifications in some ways, though it’s good to always try to relate what the form is trying to teach you to the application of it.

Tai Chi sword

A good demonstration of Wudang Tai Chi sword from Adrian. Particularly good is the control of the sword and the fluency of its movement. Lots of nice arcs as well as effect and direct stabs. The sword is difficult to do this fluidly and with this much artistry and control.

Tai Chi documentary

This is a nice documentary video, which includes (at 51.12) some footage of Cheng Tin Hung dropping some real gold nuggets on Tai Chi self defence training. He explains the need for being able to develop incredibly high levels of hand coordination to ‘catch’ attacks and control the centre of gravity perfectly. Cheng Tin Hung was incredibly smart in his understanding of how to apply the art.

Tai Chi sword footwork drill

A swedish Wudang practitioner, who is particularly interested in the swordsmanship aspects of Tai Chi has put together some interesting and useful drills that combine some key weapons concepts and some of the standard footwork drills of the art, which normally are mainly trained in pushing hands repletion drills. Good to see some creative drills which are actually useful being developed.

Pushing hands in Hong Kong

Some exceptional pushing hands skills shown by an unknown practitioner. He shows great ability to neutralise force as well as issue it using all parts of the body. He also combines some nifty kicks and strikes. Very interesting footage.

Neigong

This video has received a lot of criticism from the Wudang community. I like it however. There are technical differences from the set i was taught within this lineage, but I found his advice to be on point with focus on relaxation, suspended head top etc. Some thins like his excessive movement during the static stances and so on is unusual and could be explained by a number of things. Overall a good attempt to explain some of the basic neigong exercises in a direct way, even if some people find his techniques a little different to theirs.

Tai chi throws video

Another video from the Somerset people, showing their versions of Wu style practical techniques. Again it’s good, solid practical Tai Chi without any flash. A nice variety of basic Wu style moves is on display.

Tai Chi spear video

Some powerful spear techniques on display from Ian cameron. A nice display of control, coordination, precision and power. Also evident is the whipping power of some tai chi spear techniques. The spear is a pretty simple weapon but there are many levels of development within that simplicity.

Yang style fa jin

An exceptional demonstration of a Yang style form, along with some very potent and crisp fa jin elements. Precision, control, power and fluidity make this one of the best Yang style fa jin videos i’ve seen.

Wang Shu Chin Tai Chi video

Wang Shi Chin was a legend of the internal art, going to Japan and taking out all challenger. Here you can see one of his Japanese disciples showing his form and applications. I believe this all comes originally from the mysterious Chen Pan Ling, another legend of Taiwanese martial arts.

Tai Chi San Shou drill video

A couple of Ian Camerons students demonstrating a practice session of Tai Chi self defence moves. It’s a good video because it sows two people practicing the basic moves in a way that is cooperative and that allows them to work on some of the more fundamental elements of Tai Chi self defence. Its also pretty fluid and lively, with some nice variations and a little room for spontaneity. People often dont get drilling right, and get competitive or slack. This is a nice way to ingrain all the key basic moves.

An example of standard Tai Chi fakery

In this video a guy called Mizner demonstrates something incredibly common in the Tai Chi world. This is where the teacher sends people flying with the lightest of touches.

This is fake and unfortunately many people are only too willing to part with their money and invest in this kind of ‘training’.

Cheng Tin Hung and his students showing Tai Chi self defence drills

Some old school footage of Cheng Tin Hung and his students training some of the foundation Tai Chi self defence drills and methods. What we see is simple, direct, practical and very lively. There is nothing flashy, posed or pretentious here, just the implementation of Tai Chi concepts and ideas. Good use of speed, grappling, striking and footwork. Good to see Cheng Tin Hung himself allowing himself to be thrown down regularly as part of the training, showing a very cooperative and ego free practice environment. Unfortunately many Wudang schools in this era don’t practice anything like this anymore.

 

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