The 216 Form
In this day and age of shorter and shorter Tai Chi forms ( as short as 8 moves), I have designed a form of 216 movements. It is my belief and experience that longer forms encourage the player to concentrate and focus to a deeper level. Since most of my students are now getting older, they have the time to devote to practice on a regular basis. This expanded form takes about 40 minutes to complete. So let me explain the why and how.
Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art. Each part of each and every movement is a real action that is designed to do this action with the least amount of tension or stress to the body. Every action of the body requires spending energy, but we Tai Chi players learn to do the most with the least. We want to exercise every joint and muscle in the body, and feel revitalized at the end of a session. Don’t forget that “energy follows the mind” – the more different movements, the more different mind/body connections. That is why I modified the traditional Yang long form.
I think the traditional Yang long form (108) has something like 37 different moves, some repeated multiple times, e.g. Single Whip has 10 repetitions. So in my modified form, I have 10 different simple whip applications, so that I end up with many more mind/body connections. All this can be viewed and studied by looking at my YouTube offerings, especially the series on Applications.
The 216 Form is doing the Yang long form to both sides. After learning the usual Yang form which starts with movements to the right side, we go back and do the same movement sequence starting to the left side. But not first on one side all the way through, then on the other side all the way though. I think I have made it more interesting and challenging.
The traditional Yang long form is divided into three sections. Each section starts with the insides of the feet parallel, shoulder width, and the body facing forward (the starting direction). Commencement starts section one, Cross Hands starts section two, Cross Hands starts section three, Conclusion ends the form.
In the 216, the sequence is as follows: Commencement; Section One to the right, Section One to the left; Section Two to the right, Section Two to the left; Section Three to the Right, Section Three to the Left; Conclusion.
One starts with Commencement. In Commencement, the two arms are hanging by the sides of the body to start. Then the body opens to the right, steps with the left foot forward, and does Ward Off Left. This is followed by Grasp the Bird’s Tail to the right side. Then the rest of the first section is completed.
In the traditional form, we then return to face forward, Cross Hands, while the hands cross at the wrists with the right hand in front of the left, in order to make the next move, Carry Tiger to the Mountain, correct, application wise. We are blocking a kick coming at our right leg from the right side, with our right hand. In the 216, instead of crossing the wrists as we stand up for Cross Hands, we separate the arms and return them to the sides of the body, like in Commencement. We are then ready to do Ward Off Right, by opening to the left side, and stepping forward with the right foot, shifting the weight to the right foot. Grasp the Bird’s Tail is performed to the left side and the movements follow in sequence, only to the opposite side. We then return to the forward direction for Cross Hands, and cross the wrists with the right hand in front, and do Carry Tiger to the right, following with the traditional second section.
The 216 second section sequence starts with another Cross Hands, only this time the left hand is in front of the right hand, and we head to the left for Carry Tiger. The sequence for second section to the left is the same, the moves are opposite.
The third section starts with another Cross Hands, and heads to the traditional direction – right. The right side ends with the Conclusion, but this time we do another Cross Hands with the left hand in front of the right, and off we go to the left for the third section. It ends with Conclusion and that is it.
All this might sound complicated, but it really isn’t. The hardest point is remembering the sequence once you get to the other side. One can always just do parts of the other side, for instance first section right, first section left, then finish the form as usual. Or do both the first and second to both sides and only third to the right.
This is a great practice for people who know the long form. It requires deep concentration and focus. Can’t let the mind wonder, as it sometimes does when you know a form well. Let me know how you do if you work on this. Good luck.
We are having our first snow this year, and it is a goodly amount. Many years we don’t get any snow during the year, but this event is major one for us. In any case, our Saturday in the Park was snowed out. We all miss it when we can’t get together, enjoy the views, and practice our beloved art. Hopefully we’ll be back next week.