TAI CHI SHORT SET REVIEW
by Narrye Caldwell, L.Ac.
You might wonder what possible use a new Tai Chi set could be, given the myriad of excellent styles and sets already being taught today. But whether you are a curious beginner just entering this ancient art, or a seasoned professional with many students, the new short set recently developed by master teacher Ted Mancuso will be an invaluable resource.
Mancuso’s set links about 15 essential moves of Yang style Tai Chi, repeating most of them on both sides, to create an elegantly constructed modular form.
The appearance of this new set addresses an age-old teaching dilemma, especially for those of us who work with beginners in community settings. The problem is how to integrate newcomers at any stage. If your class is halfway through the Yang Style Long Set for instance, it’s difficult to start a beginner in the middle. This limits access to your class. The great thing about Mancuso’s new set is that its modular nature makes it possible for new students to enter at any point. And its condensed size means you can teach the whole thing in about three months.
I taught this set to my students at the local acupuncture school, where Tai Chi is a required part of the curriculum. I have only a one-hour class with them, once a week for 16 weeks. Most of them will not continue as regular students, so it’s important that the limited class time we have provides a good foundation. In the past I’ve been frustrated by the impossibility of teaching a complete set in this format. I usually compromise by focusing on one section of the Long Form. At the end of the semester I often feel like I’ve left them hanging in the middle of a paragraph. But with this new short set, I can give them a well-rounded Tai Chi experience in one semester, without sacrificing depth and sound principles.
And happily, there is now a DVD available that is a wonderful rendering of this new set. It shows a complete demonstration of the form, key points and details of the moves, and some really useful training techniques such as loops and jings. An experienced practitioner can learn the set easily right from the DVD, and immediately put it to use in class. For beginning students, the DVD is a valuable reference tool that adds a confidence factor for practicing at home.
As a long-time practitioner and teacher, I’m really happy to have this new set; I think it makes an invaluable contribution to the Tai Chi community.