Notes on Taiji Practice

by Dong YingJie

Following are some miscellaneous notes from Dong YingJie (Wade: T’ung Ying-chieh, who was, along with Fu ZhongWen, one of Yang Chengfu’s two top disciples) on Taiji practice that were posted to the neijia mailing list in October 1999.

Talking about Taijiquan in lieu of practicing apparently is not restricted to the state of the art here today. Tung Ying Jie advised students several decades ago that, in the beginning, a student should concentrate on listening and learning the correct forms from a competent master before getting too involved in pointless discussions on theory or the philosophy of Taiji. A certain maturity of practice is needed for one to be able to comprehend and discuss principles of the practice. There is no shortcut around long, hard, lonely practice.

“The key point is that you have to learn the real Taijiquan from a good teacher. Without grasping the main points of Taijiquan, its effects, for the most part, will not be better than common physical exercise. Consequently, you will not realize benefits in this most subtle art even though you have been practising it for tens of years. If your method of practice is correct, you can also learn some skills of self defense besides its significant health effects. Some people are skeptical about the martial arts effects of Taijiquan. They think that Taijiquan is of no use in real fighting. This is only because their knowledge about Taijiquan is too superficial and they haven’t got a good teacher to teach them.”

“Taijiquan belongs to the internal school of Chinese martial arts. The strength used in Taijiquan is created by the bones, but the jin (trained strength) is stored in the tendons. The main purpose is to sink the internal qi and consolidate the bones.”

“To loosen the shoulders and drop the elbows means not to concentrate the force at the back of the shoulders. Actually, the strength is transmitted through the upper part of the forearm.”

“Always be aware of the incoming force from the opponent during push-hands. You are not practicing for the enjoyment of pushing your opponent out. The main task in push-hands is to keep from exposing your own center of gravity to the opponent, while the opponent’s center of gravity should be controlled by you.”

“You may practice your skill at any time, whether you are walking, resting, sitting, or sleeping. The method is to move the internal qi with the motivation of the mind, and you should have the feeling of the movement. Try to hold a teacup with your hand. Try to find out the differences in the feelings when you are holding it with force and without force.”

“When you have learned the forms well and the fundamental skills of push-hands have been learned, you can start to learn the various skills of using jin. There is adhering jin, following jin, sinking jin, internal jin, raising jin, twisting jin, rubbing jin, touching jin, hand over jin, sticking jin, shaking jin, quivering jin, shooting-an-arrow jin, sudden jin, going-through-the-bone jin, brisk jin, leading-along jin, fa-jin, preserved jin, and so on. All of these should be learned from the comprehension and motion of doing the forms and push-hadns duing a considerable time of practice.”

“The strength is rooted in the feet, launched from the legs, dominated by the waist, and figured out in the fingers. This is the rule of exerting the strength. There are also contra-indications, such as not to bend the knee over the toes, not to stretch the hand over the tip of the nose, and not to raise the hand over the top of the eyebrow. These malpractices undermine the concentration of strength.”

Reference: Notes on Taiji Practice by Dong YingJie

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