Many people have been asking me for a video of the complete Long Form for a long time. Few realize however that it’s not so simple a task to film the whole Long Form because of the continuous directional changes. To do it right, it really requires at least four cameras shooting simultaneously, and ideally, those are good cameras with the same aspect ratio and capture quality. Then of course there’s the matter of the camera operators and of course the editing of all the clips into one seamless montage that clearly shows all of the movements properly and remains an interesting video. I am very grateful for the work and contribution of my students, Lincoln Bickford and David Pushpa Roselund, who shot and produced this film in high quality 1080p HD, which also showcases a truly epic sea-side setting and the hauntingly beautiful sacred music of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff and Thomas De Hartmann. Certainly it’s one of the more intriguing Long Form videos I’ve ever seen.
For those who need a bit of background, a TaiChi Long Form is a long sequence of highly precise movements, sacred in essence, strung together in a continuous flow from beginning to end. To put it simply, the purpose is first to develop and refine the mental focus and continuity of mind/body connection; after all, it is not so easy to pay attention to a complex series of precision movements in an uninterrupted flow for 20 minutes! Therefore, Long Form training demands and facilitates intensive attention to, and awareness of, the whole body at all times. With this power of attention and awareness the practitioner may then develop the Universally tantamount faculty of consistency within change – a dependability of mind and energy flow within versatility of movement and Being. Life is movement, above all. Through persistent training, Long Form practice provides an enormous degree of awareness, adaptability, balance, and strength, not just of the body, but also the mind and energy, and the very root of Being.
There are a variety of Long Form sequences particular to various schools of TaiChi. What you will see in the video below is the Long Form sequence we use in the TaiChi Tao system. Most know it as the “Temple-style” Long Form in its simplest format (shown here for those who are using the video as a study reference), but in our practice we call it “Nine-style Long Form training”. We call it Nine-style because there are nine variants to the practice method divided into three categories:
- BODY FRAME SIZE: small, medium & large
- SPEED OF MOVEMENT: slow, medium & fast speed
- STANCE HEIGHT: low, medium & high.
By selecting one of the variants from each of the three categories, combining any three together, a greatly variable (though no less precise) Long Form expression is practiced. What this means is that there are 27 permutations of possibility for practice variation, making the Nine-style Long Form the most detail-intensive and diverse of all TaiChi Form sequences. To put the magnitude of this into context, if you were to practice all 27 permutations in succession without interruption, it would require around 9 hours to complete. Talk about Long Form training! But don’t worry, I only show you one permutation, here (“medium” in all three categories) – which takes about 20 minutes.
Furthermore, the Nine-style Long Form is practiced to both sides, meaning that all of the movements are performed in their sequence, and are then performed again in the mirror image. The completion of all the movements in the sequence to each side constitutes one Long Form set. It doesn’t make any sense to try to determine how many postures or movements the Nine-style Long Form consists of since it largely depends on how you count them, that is, how to determine Posture from Flow Formation, whether or not you count repeated movements, and whether or not you count transitions. When asked the meaningless question, “How many movements does your Long Form have?” I like to give an answer I borrowed from a good friend: “How many movements are in a wiggly piece of string?” This seems the most appropriate response, indeed.
So here’s the video. We very much recommend viewing full-screen and with decent speakers or headphones as the picture and sound quality is of utmost excellence. And if you’re not using it as a practice reference, I might suggest its viewing with a nice Cabernet, and settle in… there’s a reason they call it a Long Form! ;-) Enjoy.
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