What is the proper speed needed in performing a Good Tai Chi practice. The answer depends on your current physical health and Tai Chi ability. The number one concern is about continuity and continuous movement, not speed. Speed is secondary to constant flow. Many new Tai Chi players perform Tai Chi to slowly and that slowness can lead to what one Tai Chi teacher called ” a turgid energy – and it’s painful to watch! ”
It is the transitions that I am most concerned with. Here is where a lot of TaiJi players do not spend enough time clearly defining the continuous movement that is needed for the form to flow properly. I believe this is a direct result of the ” new” emphasis on performing the TaiJi to slowly. Slow is not your friend, generally. Flowing and linking and continuous movement need to be mastered before the form is slowed down to much. Generally speaking when one sees a master perform a great TaiJi piece the observer wants to do so as well. Not having acquired the skill of continuous movement, the player adds slower motions that include stops and hesitations. Not the same TaiJi. Speed needs to be secondary to flow.
Possibly the earliest Wu style Taijiquan video with Chu Minyi, disciple of Wu Jianquan, recorded in 1937 in Shanghai.Notice how fast he is moving. Also note the Hackey Sack he does at the end. This is great Tai Chi, even if done fairly fast.
The general speed for the 108 Wu Style Long Form is between 13 – 20 minutes. For the 24 Short Forms 3 – 5 Minutes, no longer.