Continuing my discussion of the Three “S”s of Qigong practice: Single Exercises, Sets and Sequences:
A Qigong sequence is a series of movements put together into an artistic form. I often call these forms, but many people use the word “form” for a single exercise or a set. I’m playing with the word “Sequence” as a more accurate, separate descriptor.
In a Sequence–or form–one exercises follows another in an arranged order. Sequences usually cover some ground with different types of steps, arm movements and torso movements. These patterned forms usually face all directions within the series of moves.
Forms are Artistic Patterns
Forms–or Sequences–can be seen as patterns performed on the ground, in time, and in the space around you.
Sequential forms are a more advanced way of practicing than Single Exercises or Sets (though not necessarily better.)
Sequences are like books or encyclopedias of skills and knowledge. Often Sets are created by taking and adapting movements from forms into successive drills. I have done this with the Primordial Qigong Sequence, creating the exercise Set I call the Delightful Dozen out of it.
Whereas the Delightful Dozen faces one direction and calls for about a dozen repetitions of each exercise; Primordial Qigong faces each of the cardinal directions eight times in a circling sequence and with varying numbers of repetitions for each sequential movement within the form.
In the formal sequence of Primordial Qigong, each exercise has it’s own number of reps to do—between 1 and 10 reps—before flowing into the next exercise
Other examples of Sequences include much of the system of Wild Goose Qigong, including The First 64, The Second 64, Soft Palms, Spiral, etc…
Yang Style TaiJi (Tai Chi)
Every system of Tai Chi (at least 6 different major systems out there) has it’s short and long forms as a major part of their training. The Yang Style of Tai Chi Chuan, for instance, has a widely taught beginner form of 24 movements; the intermediate 20 minute (or so) long 108 movements form; and another, rarely seen, more complex, 108 move form.
New Frame Chen Style Tai Chi Form
In my Chen Style Tai Chi class with Bob Lau we practice something called the New Frame. This very long and complicated form (which I have a long way to go to really understand in a significant way) is made of 83 moves. However, most moves have several sequential components to them, so 83 is a but a method of naming. There seem to me to be about 250 separate moves. “Whew.” I’m currently learning a Sequence called Spiral Taiji from my internal arts teacher Bob Lau.
Advantage of Sequences
An advantage of working with Sequences is that they force you to be present and fully conscious as you are training. Spacing out and not paying attention leads to missing your next steps and getting lost. Sequences are a magnificent as moving meditations.
With the differing numbers done of exercises, the exact sequences, the steps being taken and directions to face, sequential forms are masterful ways of training your memory.
Sequences also encourage a the building of artful skill. Forms add a tapestry of artistic color and nuance to Qigong.
And they are fun!