Taijiquan can't turn us into supermen though I have met one or two experts over the decades who certainly seemed "extraordinary" in their body mechanics and martial abilities even though they were no longer young or even middle-aged. While having good genes, on-going hard work and plain good luck in terms of avoiding injuries are sometimes deciding factors as well, on-going hard work is probably the most important factor after competent instruction!
This attitude is still surprisingly absent in those who think they want to learn Yang-style taiji. For example, I was eating lunch with one of my senior students in a restaurant and the man at the table next to ours had obviously been eavesdropping on our conversation about taiji training. As we got up to leave, he blurted out "You guys do taiji? I just started taking lessons with so-and-so and love it but it's hard to remember the postures. Do you think I should practise on my own between classes?"
I let my student answer as he has been teaching Yang form to a small group of beginners as part of his apprenticeship for certification and it was good for him to have to answer such seemingly stupid questions. Besides I was choking from biting my own tongue!
After we left I told Lloyd "Now you'll understand how frustrating it can be to hear that same question as I did repeatedly during the years that I taught introductory classes in community centers."
Yes, you have to work on your own between classes. In the beginning, repetition and regularity of practise is the key; but as you get better and better, IMPROVING your performance of each such session becomes more and more the real secret of successful training.
Oh and if you want to study the martial side of the Yang style, learning some variation of the slow form is only the beginning and the most important aspect of any martial training is having good partners to practise with as well as competent instruction.
Copyright Michael Babin©2017
I think of myself as a Yang style "generalist" in recent years rather than someone who follows a particular teacher. Thinking that way can have its dangers and its limitations but so can being a devoted follower of a particular lineage or teacher. For someone who values history and archaeology as much as I do, somewhat surprisingly, I'm not interested in turning my taijiquan forms and martial methods into museum pieces or slavish copies of someone else's material. That kind of stuff is essential in the formative years but can easily become its own trap as the years and decades roll by.
On the other hand, I don't see the value of creating a mish-mash of ingredients so that my Yang taiji looks like nothing I originally learned much less like bad xingyi or bad bagua. Nor have I been a fan in the past of modifying the solo forms taught by the men and occasionally women with whom I have studied. Perhaps this is because I have an old-fashioned approach to copyright issues and don't want to feel as if I am radically changing someone else's interpretations just to pass them off as my own.
43+ Years of Experience Training in the Chinese martial arts; 33+ years experience teaching taijiquan and 24+ years experience teaching baguazhang