Sunday, November 27, 2016

Training the 32 Form

Last January I started learning the 32 Form as the next step in my Tai Chi practice. Sifu Wu's approach to teaching Tai Chi is to start with a basic form and progress through a series of forms that get more challenging and incorporate more advanced moves (by contrast, some schools will teach one form and focus on refining that form over time).

The 32 Form is an intermediate form that is the follow-up to the Yang 24 Form. While it is composed mostly of Yang-Style movements, it is a combination form that incorporates Chen, Sun, and Wu-Style movements.

I wasn't all that interested in learning the 32 Form initially. I know students who want to continually learn new forms (form junkies :) but I've always been the opposite - learning a new form takes time and effort that I feel could be better spent on refining a form you already know. Since I already knew the Yang-Style Long Form, I didn't see much point in learning an intermediate form that I would eventually stop practicing but Sifu Wu recommended that I study it so I did.

One emphasis of the 32 Form is lowering the stance in order to train flexibility and strength. As I was learning the form, Sifu Wu had me work on longer/lower steps during my stepping training and added in some stretching exercises to loosen up my ankles, hips, and hamstrings. Once I learned the form, Sifu Wu cut back my Zhan Zhuang training because the form training provides some of that training benefit (don't worry, I still do plenty of stance training).

While I still think that learning a lot of new forms is not a good use of valuable training time, I must admit that the effort I put into learning the 32 Form has been well worth it. I've come to really enjoy the form and it has provided a good venue to incrementally increase to my training level. Eventually I'll learn the 48 Form and move on from the 32 Form but I think it's going to be a while - I still have a lot to learn from this form.

Technically, now that I've learned the 32 Form, I should move on from the 24 Form but Sifu Wu has recommended against that. The 24 Form is ubiquitous (classes, competitions, demonstrations, ...) so it's useful to keep in practice. I now use it as a warm-up, going through it few times in a higher stance and then moving on to the 32 Form.

As a final note, Sifu Wu has just released a 32 Form DVD and you can check out a demo of the full form from the DVD on her YouTube channel:

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