There are some excellent resources about T’ai chi available on the internet, and some good video material on YouTube. Unfortunately, for students beginning T’ai chi, there are many poor quality and misleading materials as well. To help beginners and those interested in following up on T’ai chi ch’uan, I have selected the three best YouTube videos I could find for T’ai chi learners and researchers; along with my explanation of why these videos are worth watching and studying. I have listed them as Basic, Advanced, and Applications.
1. BASIC: “Internal Discipline in Tai Chi Walk”
This short video by Master Stephen Hwa demonstrates a basic T’ai chi exercise which incorporates a number of fundamental skills, bodily awareness, correct back alignment, rooting, sinking and balance skills, and the differentiation of substantial & insubstantial. It is in fact a complete set of T’ai chi exercises. T’ai chi walking works in a different way to conventional walking, in that you avoid temporarily losing balance as you fractionally throw the upper body forward, and prevent falling by placing the foot forward, so each step of conventional walking carries the risk of losing balance. T’ai chi walking teaches walking powered from the hip joints (pelvis) and using the lower abdominal and lower back muscles, in a stable controlled stance, thus avoiding the temporary imbalance effect.
2. ADVANCED: “YouTube videos of Cheng Man-Ching”
There are several videos of Master Cheng on this site. The first is of him performing the 37 Posture Form which he pioneered. It was probably filmed in the early 1950s, and it provides an interesting contrast with the films of him doing the same form in the 1970s when Master Cheng was in his 70s. His movements in the later films are much smaller and less defined. They appear more natural. This is a completely natural effect of training the Form over many years. Over the years your form becomes softer, more natural, smaller, less defined and more internalized. In fact, in the later films Master Cheng’s movement and stances are even more relaxed and contain great power and internal energy. Anyone who played pushing hands with Master Cheng in the 1960s and 1970s can attest to this power.
3. APPLICATIONS: “Tai Chi Master Fu Wing-fei: Applications”
This respected Master, Fu Wing-fei (Cantonese) aka Fu Yong-hui (Mandarin), runs through some basic applications and explains which postures in the Form and which principles to apply. He speeds through a lot, so the beginner will struggle to spot the different elements used.
They include simply raising the hands at the Beginning of the Form, Double handed push, Parting the Wild Horsed Mane (Diagonal Flying), Ward Off, Toe Kick, Brush Knee Twist Step, Strum the Lute, Cloud Hands and Single Whip – these last two being used in dealing with combination punches. Also the film has a short Pushing Hands sequence where his students demonstrate the use of Ward Off, Rollback, Press and Push in application.