Practicing the Yang Style Large Frame Form of Tai Chi is basically building the foundation. These are primary skills, which will enhance your performance while practicing all forms of Tai Chi Chuan.
The Classic Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Large Frame Form sets the standard for all other forms that follow in the Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan curriculum. Stances, timing and angles are consistent throughout the form. If practiced correctly, the form will strengthen the whole body and open the joints. The Yang Style Large Frame Form emphasizes body alignment as well as proper weight shifting. Consistent and regular practice of the form also helps to develop internal power.
Building the Foundation
A strong foundation in Tai Chi Chuan begins with the waist, legs and feet. As you learn to relax and move as a single unit, all of your body weight will sink down to the legs and feet. With practice, your legs gradually become strong enough to support your upper body weight. The waist connects the upper body with the legs and feet. Initially, you rely on external muscle strength, but eventually the Large Frame Form develops an internal strength that keeps the muscles from becoming fatigued.
The Large Frame Form emphasizes large circular movements and wide stances throughout the form. These movements are designed to strengthen the legs and sink the body weight down to the feet. The form normally takes from twenty to twenty-five minutes to complete. When the legs are strong and the weight sinks to feet, a strong “root” can develop.
Opening the Joints
The large circular movements and wide stances help to loosen the waist and open the joints. The Large Frame Form requires the arms and legs to be relaxed but extended and classic postures such as Wave Hands Like Clouds and Single Whip emphasize twisting the waist and opening the hips. The shoulders, chest, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles will gradually open and become more flexible as a result of practicing the Large Frame Form.
Developing Internal Power
Work on developing internal power can begin when the legs are able to support the upper bodyweight. It is essential that a student understand how to relax before he or she can become sensitive to the body’s internal energy. The Large Frame stresses relaxed but structured movement. The body is not limp, it is relaxed with structure. The large circular movement will eventually allow the chi or inner energy to circulate freely throughout the body.
Strong legs to support relaxed upper body weight, a keen awareness of body alignment and a strong sense of being rooted.
It is essential that one develop those primary skills before moving on to more advanced levels of Tai Chi Chuan.