Taijiquan: Form & Applications

Joanna Zorya, instructor and founder of the Martial Tai Chi Association, here demonstrates and elucidates on many aspects of Taijiquan practice... You might like to see our review and some comments from her DVD covers.

PLUM SPECIAL: Buy two or more volumes of any J. Zorya DVD (including Bagua and Xing Yi) and receive a 10% discount! Example: Two for 30.00 each instead of 60.00 only $54.00 for the pair.

Click to read one of Joanna Zorya's articles for PLUM...

Chin Na Kung FuNEW!! DVD 21032    Warm Up, Strengthen & Stretch
by Joanna Zorya and Julie Hinder

From the cover:
"While it's important to move with your whole body as a connected unit when performing the martial actions of Taijiquan, Baguazhang, etc., it is also very important to isolate specific joints and muscles for individual attention when warming up, stretching, developing strength and improving functional flexibility. Otherwise, weak and less flexible parts of your body can be compensated for invisibly by the stronger and more flexible parts. However much time a martial artist spends on contact training and refining solo movements, there is much additional work to be done, developing overall physicality, fitness and functional flexibility.

In our classes we consider it important to teach the skills of self reliance and self discipline, so students are expected to be able to coherently warm themselves up, strengthen their bodies and perform a stretch down at home as part of their solo practice.

As usual for our DVDs, rather than worrying about any single lineage or tradition, we've simply compiled a comprehensive, systematic and practical guide. Here the subject matter is warming up, toning, strengthening and stretching the whole body. Old and new exercises have been combined, guided by modern anatomical knowledge."

DVD #1 contains a full regimen of warm ups with an emphasis on flexibility you can use in the martial arts.

DVD #2 contains a range of strengthening exercises for the whole body and a bonus section on the Taiji Bang or training stick.

Quantity  $59.95 for Two DVDs

DVD #12037  MARTIAL ROTATION
Teacher Joanna Zorya once again has produced an instructional DVD with solid content and, most importantly, an open hearted exposition of essential actions. As in her other DVDs she aims to the heart of her subject. Zorya has shown the kind of moves on which instructors concentrate their greatest efforts. These spiral moves are not just "Martial Rotations" but key actions for all Chinese Wushu. In addition she demonstrates these actions while avoiding the two great errors which everyone — no matter how advanced— must cope with: cocking and leaking. Zorya's movements rarely miss as she performs the correct coordination of waist, joints and intention: a crucial charactertistic of Chinese martial training. Her work reminds us of the excellent actions of Chen Pan Ling. Sometimes she might, as Chen did, appear formalized or even stiff but this is because she shows such finely geared motions without loss of structure in transition: a task that even the best of teachers often fail. Then she takes these very important actions and shows plausible and logical applications with even an occasional surprise tactic. Let's put it this way; were you attending a class with an exceptionally dedicated teacher, the contents of this DVD would be very similar to those techniques you would be asked to master. Frankly the work is hard, precise and demanding, but Zorya's intelligence and humor leaven the effort.

Quantity  $35.00 around 55 minutes

 

DVD #12035   TAIJI CONCEPTS
Ms. Zorya conducts this visual essay on the essential features of Taijiquan as a martial art. She shows the martial reality of Taiji armed at times with shield and sword against spear and other times with convincing and logical analysis of the Taiji Classics. Supplying point by point breakdowns on the Eight Essential Energies with applications she goes beyond the obvious by correlating each nuance to classic Taiji theory. Along with Julie Hinder - the recipient of this gentle mayhem - Joanna gives a wide series of examples validating the real fighting technique of Taiji with succinct and lucid explanations. To quote from the cover, "I cannot recommend this DVD strongly enough, but then I made it! Quite honestly, though, I would have loved to have been able to buy this DVD when many of these factors were still a mystery to me. And yes, I'm still learning."

Among topics attended, we find:
The Six Harmonies • The Eight Methods and Five Steps or "thirteen strategies" • The Three Essential Qualities of expansiveness, rotation and undulation • Reeling Silk • Yin Yang as a strategy • parallels to the battlefield

Quantity  $35.00 around 55 minutes

 

DVD #12036 Putting the QUAN back in TAIJI
(Note this replaces the individual DVD formerly #12031)
Teacher Joannna Zorya here reprises her earlier DVD with expanded information and applications. She takes the first seven moves of the Zheng Man Qing form as a base and gives explicit instructions on their formal structure. She then adds numerous applications calling on her knowledge not only of the Zheng, but also of the Yang form and the Dong branch of Yang Taiji. She augments this with the flavor of Reeling Silk which she considers most significant.

Quantity  $60.00 two DVD Set,  
around 50 minutes each

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DVD Two #12032  TAIJIQUAN #2
This DVD (which follows #12036) shows the form for the second section of the Zheng man Qing style (Lift Hands to Embrace Tiger) and then major martial applications for the actions of this form.

Quantity   $35.00  
around 30 minutes

DVD Three #12034  TAIJI FOUNDATIONS
This DVD examines in depth the essential qualities of Tai Chi movement as the martial methods of Peng, An, Lu, Ji and Cai. We are shown how they can be combined to create effective martial techniques and short Form sequences for repetitive practice.

Quantity   $30.00  
around 52 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the slipcase:

"Authentic Taijiquan (Supreme Polarity Boxing) is a study of soft and hard techniques, slow and fast tempo and importantly spiral movements and sudden explosive strikes. However, an alarming number of Taijiquan practitioners today, particularly in the West, have no notion of its crucial combative techniques. Instead, the art is seen simply as a form of gentle, low-impact exercise, or else as a purely meditative pursuit. I have spent almost a decade researching the fighting techniques of Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang and I require my students to deal with martially-realistic levels of contact from the outset of training. While many teachers just teach empty Forms, I focus on training students to be complete martial artists with strong, healthy and robust bodies, true martial morality, confidence and martial spirit."

Shihfu Mancuso's comments:
I have just viewed Joanna Zorya's DVD's on Tai Chi Applications.

A few comments: I have been in martial arts most of my life. What wows the crowds no longer lifts my eyebrow. What IS rare is not the flashy, powerful or sexy. What is rare is the accurate, simple and balanced. Was it Verlaine who criticized French verse by stating, "We have many poets who can write brilliant lines. But do we have any who can write three competent lines in a row?" In these disks Ms. Zorya guides us through the Cheng Man Ching form of Tai Chi Chuan. She is an educated guide. She show us applications which are accurate, classical and interesting. You think that is common? Even Cheng himself was not so accommodating. We see many varieties of Tai Chi Applied but the movements are general Kung Fu with a lemon twist, supposedly making them Tai Chi. Zorya is very clearly breaking down her form move by move with classical but not obvious interpretations. What will you see here? The British countryside for one. Two women very simply and slowly showing dozens of applications derived from the Short Form. Zorya is so understated, so honestly pedagogical you may just miss the fact that the applications are good, clever and truly representative of their source. You should know that she's given herself a task. It seems people in the U.K. are less than poignantly aware of Tai Chi's martial features. As a good instructor should, she approaches the issues of education clearly and directly. She is concerned that a hip injury will make her performance inaccurate in some way. So she notes the limitation. Would that some instructors warn about their attitudes so honestly. You will not see grunting, fake-speedy attacks or flashy moves here. What you will see is an intelligent and forthright person who wants to transmit, not impress. If there is a critical point we might make it is that we expect to see a deepening of Ms. Zorya's torso engagement as time passes. But look straight and you will see it already manifest. Given the stylistic requirements of the Short Form and her obvious dedication to developing skill, Ms. Zorya's program is already in place.

I think this series can be particularly useful to Tai Chi instructors and study groups.