Tai Chi - 24 Forms By Dr. Paul Lam****UPDATED!!!****
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The ancient practice of tai chi is clinically proven to be one of the most effective exercises to improve health, fitness and relaxation. The 24 Forms is the most widely practiced tai chi form. While there are many variations, the form you will learn by working with this DVD is the one of the most authentic. Following an introduction to tai chi and its benefits, Dr Lam teaches unique qigong exercises and foundational movements which will enhance your energy and make easier learning. He teaches the 24 forms from different angles using close ups, repetitions and diagrammed illustrations while dividing each form into small sections allowing you to follow along with ease. Throughout the lessons, Dr Lam will explain the tai chi principles and how to use them to improve your tai chi.
A rare gift - Best instruction of the 24 forms Posted by Mike Rivamonte on 18th Apr 2014 Dr. Lam gives you the proper instructions to begin your Tai Chi practice for the rest of your life. Dr. Lam shows you each movement giving you detail instruction and multiply views. He repeats each step several times so you can quickly build your understanding and muscle memory. He also explains the transitions from move to move with this same process. His front and back demonstrations show you your goal! I personally found Dr. Lam's DVDs a rare gift. His passion of sharing his love of Tai Chi is so apparent in these instructions DVDs. I use mine everyday as I practice the form or I watch them to make sure I am learning it correctly. Once I feel comfortable with the 24 I would like to explore another. --Tai Chi Productions
This is a very well-produced instructional DVD and it's clear that a great deal of thought, care and experience went into making it. I bought it because I found I was forgetting and/or I needed to work on the finer points of instruction from my weekly class. This DVD has met my needs admirably. It starts from scratch and I found the section where the foundational movements were taught in isolation to be very helpful in co-ordinating my hand and arm movements with my steps. The menu chapters are laid out very clearly, so it's easy to access the parts you're looking for, and Dr. Lam takes a lot of time explaining and demonstrating each part of the 24 forms. Also, he has one of his students performing the same movements at the same time but from the opposite angle, so you don't have to stop and figure out that his right is your left etc. and then make the necessary adjustments. Besides breaking up the 24 forms into smaller parts and having his class demonstrate these parts after he has gone though them with another student, the DVD also has Dr. Lam performing the entire 24 forms from two different angles, which again facilitates understanding and makes it easy to practice along with the DVD. As I said, this DVD will really help you if you are just starting a 24 forms class and need to slow down and go back over things you've learned. If you live in a community where Tai Chi classes are offered, take the classes, because nothing beats in-class instruction, and it's also fun learning Tai Chi with other people. However, if there isn't a place where Tai Chi is taught close to where you live, or if you're on a tight budget, you can't do better than Dr. Lam's DVD. --Amazon
great instructional video! Paul Lam- excellent teacher. instruction is given from both front and back views at a slow easy pace. A must for anyone wanting to learn or brush up on Tai Chi- 24! --Amazon
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I found this video very helpful, because it includes at the end a demonstration of the entire form shot from the back. And it's certainly inspiring to watch Dr. Lam doing the form. I also found the instructional part of the video helpful, because Dr. Lam gives very precise instructions on hand and foot placement, and he also uses clock positions to orient you in terms of which way to face, which is very helpful, because sometimes this is not entirely clear from watching videos.
The reason I took off two stars is because this video shares the same problem as most tai chi videos, in which the teacher demonstrates the movements while facing the camera. This one factor makes the video completely useless for beginners. The problem is that as you face your TV screen, and you see the instructor facing you, he moves his hand out to his left, but the only way you can follow him is to treat the TV image like a mirror image, so you move your hand to your right, because his left is your right. In an actual tai chi class, you stand behind the instructor so that it's easy to follow his movements.
Thus, if you use a video that has this problem, you will end up performing the entire form backwards, i.e. moving left when you should be moving right and vice versa (this is indeed how I first learned tai chi). The Yang Short Form is not ambidextrous; it goes in specific directions. The world won't come to an end if you do the whole form backwards, but if you ever find yourself with a group of people doing tai chi, you will have to learn it all over again, this time in the correct direction.
So, what you have on this and most other videos is the teacher saying "move your foot to the left," while on the screen he's moving his foot to your right. If you think this isn't a problem, trust me, if you try to move your foot to the left while trying to copy someone's movements who is moving to the right, I guarantee you, you'll last about three seconds before you start tripping over your feet.
Some reviewers of this video claim that each exercise is performed from different angles. This is a little misleading. Some of the movements are demonstrated from one angle and then demonstrated from a slightly different angle, but only for one or two of them is the movement actually demonstrated from the back. The back of the DVD case states that it includes "front and back views of each exercise." Again, this is not true, unless you count the demonstration of the entire routine from the rear at the end of the video.
It puzzles me as to why all these makers of tai chi videos seem never to have considered this left-right problem. How is a beginner to learn? Of the four tai chi videos in my possession, only one ("Tai Chi for Busy People" by Dr. Keith Jeffery) solves this problem, by filming the teacher from the back, while he faces a wall of mirrors. Unfortunately, "Tai Chi for Busy People" does not teach the entire Short Form, but a truncated version of the teacher's own devising. I'm no purist, but the fact is that the movements which Dr. Jeffery leaves out happen to be some of the ones I find most enjoyable to perform.
I haven't seen Scott Cole's videos, but my understanding is that these also present shortened routines of the teacher's devising which are easier to learn, and easier to teach as well, I'm sure. Amazon reviewers who are tai chi enthusiasts often write about how they don't understand why people would want to learn watered-down versions of tai chi, but the answer is simple -- until people start making videos which teach the Short Form in a reasonable manner, people will naturally turn to something which is easier to learn.
I also agree with the reviewer below who complained that the demonstration of the entire form as shot from the back isn't given its own separate scene break on the DVD. Instead, the scene break is at the beginning of the demonstration from the front. This means that if you want to see the one from the rear, you have to go to the front demo and then fast forward to the rear one.
Dr. Lam, an Australian physician, has a soft-spoken, gentle demeanor which is completely devoid of charisma. This isn't a problem for me, since my interest is in learning tai chi, not being entertained by a personality. I actually enjoyed his serene disposition, although it took me a few minutes to penetrate his Asian accent. Likewise, I couldn't care less about the production values when I'm trying to learn the movements. If I want to be entertained by a flashy production, I can watch reruns of the Carol Burnett Show.
Another problem for beginners, besides the left-right thing, is Dr. Lam's method of teaching each movement, which is to have one of his students demonstrate the movement, freezing at various points so that Dr. Lam can point out particular things. This makes for a start-and-stop method will be difficult for beginners, who won't get a chance to actually practice the movement all the way through unless they go to the demonstration at the end. Dr. Lam has videos designed for complete beginners which I haven't seen, perhaps they do it differently. In the two videos I learned from, "Tai Chi for Busy People" mentioned above and "Tai Chi Fitness & Health" by Joshua Grant, the teacher would first demonstrate the foot movements, go over that a few times, then demonstrate the arm movements, go over that a few times, and then put them together and go over that several times, which I think is a much better way to learn.
Included on this video are instructions for six qigong exercises. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than I could tell me why these exercises are important and how I'm supposed to incorporate these into my tai chi practice, but such information is not included in this video, and I ended up watching a few of them and then skipping the rest altogether.
So, to sum up, this video makes a good resource for someone who knows some tai chi and wants to have a refresher course. The left-right problem limits its usefulness as an instructional video, and would make it very difficult for complete beginners, as does the stop-and-start method of teaching the movements.
The menu chapters are laid out very clearly, so it's easy to access the parts you're looking for, and Dr. Lam takes a lot of time explaining and demonstrating each part of the 24 forms. Also, he has one of his students performing the same movements at the same time but from the opposite angle, so you don't have to stop and figure out that his right is your left etc. and then make the necessary adjustments.
Besides breaking up the 24 forms into smaller parts and having his class demonstrate these parts after he has gone though them with another student, the DVD also has Dr. Lam performing the entire 24 forms from two different angles, which again facilitates understanding and makes it easy to practice along with the DVD.
As I said, this DVD will really help you if you are just starting a 24 forms class and need to slow down and go back over things you've learned. If you live in a community where Tai Chi classes are offered, take the classes, because nothing beats in-class instruction, and it's also fun learning Tai Chi with other people. However, if there isn't a place where Tai Chi is taught close to where you live, or if you're on a tight budget, you can't do better than Dr. Lam's DVD.