Our training is made of an extremely wide range of exercises and a large part is done solo.
Solo work consists of warm-up exercises, qigong, drills, footwork (bu fa) exercises, standing exercises, body-centered meditation and also two bare hand forms (yi lu and er lu, first and second form).
The first form (see video) is the core of our training. This sequence of movements can be considered as a compendium of techniques which are to be learned gradually. It is also the student's base material to learn good habits in terms of movement, as well as an ideal testing ground for our body method.
Indeed Chen-family gongfu has strict but meaningful physical requirements and principles which give depth to simple actions like standing or walking.
The other part of training consists of partner exercises, mainly tuishou ("push hands" and its many routines) and martial applications. Needless to say, partner training is put aside at the moment.
Contrary to popular belief, taiji training is not all about relaxation: it can be as challenging and demanding as you want it to be. As such it can be adapted according to the physical condition, the needs and the goals of the student.
Basic training focuses on postural alignment and coordination. It helps building the necessary structure and can boost proprioception, stability and concentration.
At the same time we work on creating connections throughout the body, slowly integrating all parts into a whole, and building a core strength that allows a shenfa (body mechanics) to take place.
We want to subtly shape and train the body in order to
1) stay rooted and connected at all times,
2) generate power,
3) handle incoming power (from an opponent for instance).
Learning gongfu is learning a body method, not a battery of techniques – but from the method itself are derived countless techniques.
The reasons for following such a training are legion.
Since it's a very physical and practical training, you may choose to practice taiji in order to exercise and unify your body in a sustainable way, get new insights on movement methods, work on healthy strength, structure and/or self defense, or just take care of your bones, muscles, fasciae and other soft tissues.
You can also practice taiji in order to train and discipline your mind, learn about ancient yet topical Chinese concepts and go on a quest to learn how to be tranquil and grounded while staying "in charge". There is enough depth in taiji for a lifetime, it can be a fascinating and rewarding personal development companion.
Some want the whole package and that is fine since it is the primary goal of taiji to train and fine tune both body and mind so that they work in balance and agreement. Our training contains a lot of mental training, with a focus on attention, intention/imagination, breathing work, proprio- and interoception. It all combines and uses the resources of mind and body until one notices they are actually one.