January 11, 2011

"Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan" DVD - Review

Tim Cartmell's landmark 5 disc DVD set, "Traditional Sun Style Taijiquan" has finally hit the market and is available!  Though this will be a biased (I was minimally involved, as Tim is my teacher) review, the standards I hold dear in the Chinese martial pantheon are shared by my teacher Tim whom is interested in putting out quality productions representing the heart and soul of the Chinese martial arts.  With that said Tim has already surpassed the majority of instructional DVDs on the market both in production quality as well as martial quality.

Excellently produced, filmed, and edited with multiple camera angles, this is a 5 disc set sold in four volumes.  This instructional offers the complete Sun Family Taijiquan form (for ease of learning Tim has broken the form into 12 sections, all of which are taught here), accompanied by detailed instructions on posture testing, footwork patterns, detailed alignment pointers and the importance of proper posture, as well as supplementary power exercises.  Applications to the majority of movements are demonstrated, but not taught.  That would simply involved too many volumes that are out of the scope of the project.

Here is a extensive preview of the DVD set:



Disc 1:
Contents include detailed instruction of:
  • Proper postural alignment
  • Power Building Exercises
  • Footwork Patterns
  • Commencement and sections 1, 2 & 3 of the traditional long form
  • Partner methods for testing alignment, footwork stability and form postures
  • Demonstrations of numerous Sun style Taijiquan applications
Disc 2:
Contents include detailed instruction of:
  • Sections 4, 5 & 6 of the traditional long form
  • Partner methods for testing alignment of the form postures
  • Demonstrations of numerous Sun style Taijiquan applications
Disc 3:
Contents include detailed instruction of:
  • Sections 7, 8 & 9 of the traditional long form
  • Partner methods for testing alignment of the form postures
  • Demonstrations of numerous Sun style Taijiquan applications
Disc 4:
Contents include detailed instruction of:
  • Sections 10, 11 & 12 of the traditional long form
  • Partner methods for testing alignment of the form postures
  • Demonstrations of numerous Sun style Taijiquan applications

This DVD set was made in conjunction with Cartmell and Thomes pivotal textbook by the same name, and is meant to supplement the study of the book.  Just like the text the information contained within the DVD set has never been covered in such detail and attention to proper body mechanics and pedagogy.  Tim's gift is not just in the fact that he can DO the art, but the clarity and simplicity in his teaching model shine through in this set.  


Firstly there is a severe glut of quality CMA instructionals to begin with, and the rarity of Sun Taiji here in the west makes this ever more unique.  

Secondly the few productions available on Sun Taijiquan are very poor representations at best, and most of the forms taught have been altered from the traditional set for any number of reasons.  

Multiple camera angles pepper the form work so that one can see quite clearly what Tim is doing and his explanations are crystal clear and precise.  No funny jargon.  No using of foreign, nor metaphysical terms.  Straight forward instructions coupled with easy to understand analogies make this a DVD one could actually learn straight from, though it is meant to serve as a reference to those whom are training under a qualified teacher.  

The golden gem of the DVD series is Tim's explanation of structure, proper posture and its role in both the martial arts as well as everyday life.  Many teachers rant and rave about the importance of posture training and structure, but I have never met anyone who made it as easy to understand and to perform as Tim.  I had studied with some of the best I Quan / Dachengquan cats in North America before meeting Tim.  When I first met him his lessons on structure were the first one I had, and they remain the most important / memorable lessons of my martial path!  

Not only is this methodology explained on a theoretical plane, but Tim offers physical tests so that the practitioner can actually FEEL their structure doing what it is Tim is purporting!  Immediately the student can tell if they are doing it correctly.  This is contrary to many CMA instructors offering their "It takes years to understand this practice." type attitude towards teaching.  

In a nut shell this is THE premier learning resource available to anyone who is training Sun Taijiquan, or is interested in learning Sun Taijiquan!  Coupled with the excellent book (linked above) these media will prove invaluable to students and teachers alike even if you do not practice Sun Taijiquan.  Get these sources simply for Tim's clear concise lessons on posture, alignment, and posture testing.  

You can order these DVD ONLY through Tim's website or simply 


Train Hard.  Train Smart.
Jake B.





No comments:

Post a Comment