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Using the form as a learning tool

When practicing your form – whatever style and however long – it is important to consider how you practice – there are many ways. We can think of the form as a training in itself with all the benefits of slow movement, but it is also a structure from which we can learn. You may be used to the idea of noticing problems in your form and probably being corrected by your teacher – it is important to take these observations and corrections further – simply by looking at the small part of the form and then at the components of the movement. Perhaps there is a point where a problem has been noticed, then it is worth isolating that movement to study and experiment with different options until finding a better way and then re-integrating. This process may take a day or it may take months or years, so focusing on relaxing and aligning wrists for example in silk reeling, plays into normal daily practice of the form.

Then identify something else and work on that – it may be a physical thing or it may be an emotional or mental thing like wu wei – effortless action, using mind not strength.

Question everything – you may have been doing something crucially wrong for years – despite the best efforts of your teacher. It is surprisingly easy to learn something ten years ago and never question our understanding of it, only to find that 10 years ago we didn’t understand.



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