Backwards form.

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by cheesypeas, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. cheesypeas

    cheesypeas Moved on

    Hi all,

    May seem a mad question, but have any of you learned or even attempted to do your TaiJiQuan form backwards?

    If yes, what did you learn and were there any unexpected side effects.
  2. Rockland

    Rockland Valued Member

    By backwards, do you mean starting at the end, and progressing to the start? Or backwards in terms of a mirror image?

    (Kind of funny, as another student and I were talking about these at our last class.)
  3. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    Hi Red Kite,
    I've only ever tried the first section of the Yang long form backwards - I'm still getting to grips with 2 & 3 forwards!

    What did I learn?
    I need to practice more!!!
  4. cheesypeas

    cheesypeas Moved on

    Backwards, as in from the end to the beginning.

    A student asked about this on Thursday, so decided to give it a try. Apart from being grossly weird and making my brain hurt, I found it to be enlightening to the quality of my form. I intend to continue to explore this. :)
  5. East Winds

    East Winds Valued Member


    I have done this (Traditional Yang Form), with some students as a sponsored money raising event. Other than that, I see no value or advantage in doing so.

    Very best wishes
  6. klaasb

    klaasb ....

    Would that also mean that instead of for example a punch you would retract you hand? or do you mean that you would practice the different postures in a reversed order, while leaving the motions of the postures intact??
  7. cheesypeas

    cheesypeas Moved on

    Yes, doing the form from the close backwards to the beginning....from wuji back to wuji.

    Meaning that punches and kicks are all "retracted." :evil:
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  8. glitch

    glitch New Member


    Just to be clear, this is just my opinion, and I'm just another joe. :)

    I think that working through the form backwards (and in mirror) are both handy tricks for seeing what you're doing with fresh eyes. You'll often see a similar trick to this done in art: when an artist has stared at a piece for so long that they can no longer differentiate between what is there and what is in their mind, they look at the piece in a mirror, or turn it upside down. I feel that the backwards form is the same idea: it forces you to really examine what you've been doing out of habit, for months, years or even decades.

    That said, when I mentioned this to my instructors, they discouraged me from practice in this manner because the form is a type of internal work, and the insides are asymmetric, so practice like this could potentially be harmful in the long run.

    I haven't noticed any harmful effects in my own experience, but I do limit how often I practice the form backwards and in mirror, just in case. Besides, I think that if they become -too- familiar, lose the reason for doing it, which was to make you examine more closely how you were moving.
  9. jalan7

    jalan7 Valued Member

    Hi Guys,

    Years ago I had a Form on VHS and watched it in slow rewind and had the same idea - it would be interesting to practice the form in reverse. I finally came to the conclusion that there was NO VALUE in that. In the forms you are moving as in gathering and issuing energy. So if you reverse those movements within techniques that are meant to move forward then they become ineffective.

    Practicing Forms in mirror image is different. I believe this is important training because it not only balances out the body but helps to find stiff or blocked points in both the body and mind. If your normal (right side) Forms are well learned then mirror (left side) should come pretty quickly with a little practice. It is sort of like trying different speeds - to find if you can keep all the details and Taiji qualities as you train in other ways.

    Best Wishes
  10. RobP

    RobP Valued Member

    If you want to be really clever try doing push hands backwards. Or the sword form with the sword the other way round.
  11. Grammish

    Grammish Valued Member

    When I want to be fancy while I practice the form, I just do the form with only the leg movements, then do it with the leg movements and one arm, then with the leg movements and just the other arm, and then I do the whole thing together.

    It's like building up to the real form, letting myself focus on one part at a time until I can focus on all of it and none of it at once.
  12. Rockland

    Rockland Valued Member

    You can also experiment with pace, doing the form really slow or really fast. Or very loose, in kind of a drunken style. Or hey...a real challenge is to run through it with your eyes closed!
  13. jt2ga65

    jt2ga65 New Member

    I don't think that there is much benefit in attempting to do the forms in rewind, and quite frankly, I imagine that some are quite difficult to impossible to do in reverse, like "Snake creeps down," without a good chance of injury. I believe that most teachers would strongly discourage it, and you may even loose some respect of your teacher by bringing it up. My teacher is always preaching the benefits of doing it properly, and it is more than just the motions of the form.

    Mirror, however, is quite useful. Depending on what form you know, learning it in reverse can help prepare you for learning other style and other forms. For instance, learning Yang 24 mirrored will help learn the standard 48 form. It also helps balance out your mind and body, and brings attention to areas that you may be able to improve doing it the normal direction.

    For doing your form with only legs, or only one arm... I would say that you would want to be careful to ensure that you are able to retain your proper balance. If you are not doing the form properly, it is easy to hurt yourself, and with some movements, the arms are used as a counter balance for the legs, such as kicking.

    For doing it with our eyes closed... I've done it, and find little value in it. Plus, it actually is counter productive in helping build your awareness. Your eyes should always be open, and you need to be looking where the movement dictates. This is how you build up your awareness of your surroundings, at least this is what my teacher tells me.

    Still, everyone learns differently, and if doing any of these things help you learn it better, then I see no harm in doing it, as long as you keep the principles of Tai Chi in mind, and are careful not to injure yourself.

  14. Spinmaster

    Spinmaster Valued Member

    If your teacher has problems with you asking questions, your teacher has an attitude problem. Questions are the way to knowledge. Almost every class I have questions for my coach regarding something I read/saw/heard recently, something he is teaching us/going to teach us, etc. - he never gets angry about it, even if it seems simple/obvious to him.
  15. Rockland

    Rockland Valued Member

    I'm not suggesting that this should be part of regular practice, I'm just saying that it's something fun and challenging to try. It might give a person some insight into balance and focus. Then again, it might not. But it's fun to try. Much like doing a form in reverse, it's a temporary departure from the routine that some people might enjoy.
  16. Rockland

    Rockland Valued Member

    Well said. Someone wishing to learn shouldn't be afraid to ask (polite) questions, and someone wishing to teach should be resistant to taking questions.
  17. cheesypeas

    cheesypeas Moved on

    Rockland and Spinmaster are spot on...there is no such thing as a stupid question in my opinion.

    During last nights class, approximately three quarters of the time was spent with me answering questions and demonstrating movements.Students are encouraged to call out during form practice if they find a question crops up, as it is often forgotten by the end.

    Be in the moment. :)
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  18. jt2ga65

    jt2ga65 New Member

    Different teachers have different styles of teaching. If I asked a stupid question like, "should I try to perform these forms as if rewinding a tape in the VCR?" she is going to loose respect for me, as she has been pretty clear on the form, and the purpose, benefits, etc. about doing it forward and properly. If a newer student asks the question, it would be a fair question, and she would clarify why it is important to not do that. Different levels of students can get away with different levels of questions the teach might consider to be foolish. No teacher likes having to explain things over and over again, and if they have already told you the answer to a question, asking it again would cause them to loose confidence in you.

    My teacher never gets angry. That is not the Tai Chi way. Any teacher that gets angry should not be a teacher of Tai Chi. If I ask a question, or for clarification to something I already know, I loose respect for myself, and I feel that the teacher probably has as well. Whether she does or not is something I have not asked. I have been caught in situations where there is a disagreement about the proper way to perform a movement in my level, and I end up as the one that asks the teacher for clarification on behalf of my group. In almost every one of these situations, she confirms my understanding of the move, and it ends up leaving me feeling foolish for having asked something I already knew to be true. But, if my question helps the group understand better, I guess that is the cost of helping others.

    Of course, if you are not at a level where you understand something, then ask away. A teacher would never loose respect for someone that asks a question that they would not be expected to know the answer to.

  19. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

    Yang Ban Hao.
  20. jt2ga65

    jt2ga65 New Member

    You mean Yang Ban Hou? I think that while he was known to have a fiery temper the story of him fighting his family's challenger shows that he was quite calm. This is the essence of Tai Chi. It is calm, relaxed and not showy. It is important that when applying Tai Chi, you do not let your opponent see that movement you are about to perform.

    I think you missed my point. Any teacher that gets angry at their students makes a poor teacher. I don't believe I said anything about the teacherr getting angry in my original post, only that they would loose respect for someone that asked questions that they already have been told the answer to. Especially something so important as that of doing the forms properly.


Share This Page