This is Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang‘s original Taijiquan (Tai Chi) Standing and Silk Reeling video, from the late 90’s. It has been used worldwide as the standard instruction for Chen style Taijiquan (Tai Chi) for more than three decades, until the Grandmaster recently started recording new videos.
When Chen Xiaowang recorded his original videos series he was nearing 50 years of age, which means he had been practicing Taijiquan (Tai Chi) for more than 45 years, most of them as a professional on full-time dedication. He was incredibly strong, and still is. The implication is that a beginner should not try to copy everything that he sees in the video, because his body may not be strong enough to do it correctly. The most prominent examples in this Taijiquan (Tai Chi) video are:
- at 0:15, you can see him demonstrating Zhanzhuang in a high posture, however, his hands and arms are at shoulder level. This is very hard to do while keeping the shoulders relaxed. When starting to learn Taijiquan (Tai Chi), choose a lower hand position during standing. If it’s necessary to allow the shoulders to relax, the hands can be as low as your navel.
- at 1:00, he gets to a low posture. If you are strong, you might be tempted to copy that height – don’t. It is very hard to keep the correct internal alignments at that height, and you should remember that in Taijiquan (Tai Chi), you are trying to relax the whole body and keep a good posture, as the Grandmaster explains in the video himself.
Compare the first video to the one above, which shows Chen Xiaowang teaching Silk Reeling in Japan, in the eighties. There are two very noticeable differences: first, the standard video shows the evolution of his didactics, as you can see that when young he used to break up Silk Reeling in only two phases instead of four. Second, the difference in his movement is very clear.
The video above is Grandmaster’s latest on Silk Reeling. It is also clear how his movement evolved from the standard shooting to this one, altought is is harder to see what he is doing with his body now. This is an expected effect of the progress of his gongfu, it is said that “the circles become invisible”.