This refers to the sticking aspect or adherence in Tai Chi Chuan. Chan and lien are vertical adhering movements, lifting from above and supporting from below, respectively. Tieh is adherence in the horizontal motion, sui is adherence from the rear. Pu tiu pu ting means neither to lose the adherence nor to resist.
Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
Dictated by Yang Chengfu, recorded by Chen Weiming
1. An intangible and lively energy lifts the crown of the head. This refers to holding the head in vertical alignment, with the spirit threaded to the top of the head. One must not use strength; using strength will stiffen the neck and inhibit the flow of qi and blod. One must have the conscious intent of an intangible, lively, and natural phenomenon. If not, then the vital energy ( jingshen ) will not be able to rise.
2. Contain the chest and raise the back. “Containing the chest” means hold in the chest slightly to allow the qi to sink to dantian. One must avoid rigidity in the chest; thrusting out the chest will cause blockage in the chest cavity. One will be heavy above and light below; the heels will float up. “Raise the back” means the qi adheres to the back. If one is able to contain the chest, the one will naturally be able to raise the back. If one can raise the back, the strength will be able to issue from the spine, and you will be undefeatable.
3. Relax the waist. The waist is the body’s ruler. If you are able to relax the waist, the two feet will have strength and the foundation will be stable. The changes of insubstantial and substantial all come from turning the waist, hence it is said, “The source of meaning is in the region of one’s waist.” If there is a situation in which you are unable to attain strength, you must seek the cause in the waist.
4. Distinguish insubstantial and substantial. The art of Taijiquan takes the distinction between insubstantial and substantial as the first principle. If the weight of the entire body is placed over the right leg, then the right leg is substantial and the left is empty. If the entire body’s weight is placed over the left leg, then the left leg is substantial and the right leg is empty. If one is able to distinguish empty and full, the body’s turning motions will be light and agile, and there will be no wasted strength. If one is unable to distinguish, one’s steep will be heavy and sluggish, one’s stance will be unsteady, and one will easily be unbalanced by an opponent’s pull.
5. Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows. “Sink the shoulders” means the shoulders are relaxed, open, and allowed to hang down. If one is unable to relax and allow the two shoulders to hang down, the will rise up, then the qi will also follow them up, and the whole body will lack strength. “Dropping the elbows” means relaxing the elbows downward and letting the hang. If the elbows are drawn up, then the shoulders will be unable to sink, and you will not be able to push an opponent far. Isn’t this similar to the short energy of the external martial arts?
6. Use consciousness, not strength. This is spoken of in the “Taijiquan Classics.” This is entirely the use of mind/intent (yi), not use of strength (li). In practicing Taijiquan, the entire body is loosened (song) and open; avoid the use of the slightest bit of crude force (zhuo li), which causes blockage in the sinews, bones and blood vessels, and causes one to be bound up. The you will enable a light agility in the changes, and the circular rotations will come freely. Some doubt: without using strength, how can one increase one’s strength? Now, the human body has meridians – as with the Earth’s watercourses, when the watercourses are unblocked, the water flows. When the meridians are unblocked, then the qi passes through. If the whole body is stiff, the jin fills the meridians, the qi and blood become stagnant, the turning motions are not nimble. If one hair is pulled, the whole body is moved. If one does not use strength but instead use mind/intent (yi), then where the yi arrives, the qi follows. If the qi and the blood flow fully, daily threading and flowing through the entire body, there will be no time when there are blockages. After a long practice, one the attains genuine internal strength. Hence, the statement in the “Taijiquan Classics”: “Arriving at the extreme of of yielding softness, one afterward arrives at the extreme of solid hardness.” The arms of those who are proficient in the skill of Taijiquan are like iron within cotton, and extremely heavy. When practitioners of external martial arts use strength, the their strength is evident. When not using strength, they are light and floating. It is obvious that their strength remains an outward energy, as surface energy. When not using mind/intent (yi) but using strength, it is very easy to be led in – this is not worthy of respect.
7. Upper and lower follow one another. Upper and lower follow one another is what is referred to in the saying from the “Taijiquan Classics”:”It is rooted in the feet, issued by the legs, governed by the waist, expressed in the fingers. From the feet, to the legs, then to the waist, always there must be complete integration into one qi.” With the movements of the hands, waist, and feet, the focus of the eyes also follow their movements. When it is like this, only then can it be called “upper and lower follow each other.” If there is one part that does not move, then the form is scattered and confused.
8. Internal and external are united. What one trains in Taijiquan is the spirit, therefore it is said, “The spirit ist the leader, the body follows its order.” If one is able to raise the spirit of vitality, one will naturally be able to deport oneself lightly and with agility. The form is none other than empty, full, open and closed. What is called open is not only the opening of the hands and the feet – the mind/intent also opens with them accordingly. What is called closing of the hands and feet – the mind/intent also closes with them accordingly. When able to unite inner with outer as one qi, then there is complete continuity.
9. Linked without breaks. With practitioners of external martial arts, their strength is contrived and crude force (hou tian zhi zhuo li). Therefore it has it starts and stops, its duration and cessation. When its old strength is already depleted, its new strength has not yet been born. At these times it is most easily overcome. Taijiquan uses mind/intent, not strength. From beginning to finish is is continuous without ceasing, a complete cycle back to the beginning, circling without end. In the original teachings it is said: “Like the Long River, it flows smoothly on without ceasing.” It is also said, “Move the jin [energy] as though drawing silk [from a cocoon].” These words refer to its being threaded together (guan chuan) as one qi.
10. Seek stillness in motion. The External martial arts view leaping and stumbling as ability. They employ exertion of qi and strength, so that after training they are invariably gasping for breath. Taijiquan uses stillness to manage movement. Even when there is movement there is stillness. Therefore, in practicing the form, the slow the better. When practicing slowly, the breathing deepens and lengthens, the qi sinks to the dantian. One avoids the harm of straining the blood circulation. Students should carefully contemplate this, so as to attain its meaning.
Reference: Master Yang Style Taijiquan by Fu Zhongwen translated by Louis Swaim
‘Holding Jar’ is an old secret practice for Taichi training to let student feel and then grasp how to distinguish the substantial and in-substantial quicker.
Grand Master Yang Chenfu said in his 10 essentials: The first most important principle in TaiChi is to practice with Yin and Yang in mind.
Holding Jar gives anyone the simplest yet quickest way to gain the understanding of this principle:
Relaxed standing for 1 or 2 min, then two hands like holding a ball, palms face to each other. Loose the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers. The ball is at about chest high and it is away from chest about 1 feet.
Step left leg or right leg forward about 1 feet, the back feet toes toward to 45 degree to the front and side, two foot shall not be on the same line, from back look at the two foot, it should have about 1 fist distance in between. The weight is completely on the back feet.
Now, one looks like holding a ball and sitting on the back leg. “Slowly move the weight from back to front, and then move to back, repeat this movement”
Slowly – It is very important do this slowly, once you do it fast, you may not feel what you should feel.
1. Two foot are like a scale – Move the weight from one leg to the other is to transition your weight gradually from one to the other, one feet release the weight then the other feet shall gain the weight, the feeling is that the two foot compensating from one to the other, if one feet feels it is releasing 10 percent of weight, then the other feet shall be trained to feel that 10 percent weight again.
2. No standing and sit! – Most common problem is to stand up and bend the knee or stand up and sit down. Use the tail bone to measure this, your tail bone shall be on the same level all the time during the practice.
3. Internal organ also has substantial and insubstantial, and sense this with your move.
4. Borrow the force from substantial leg – once the substantial one takes the control, it starts slowly pushing the ground so the weight start shifting to the insubstantial leg. Make sure you carefully sense the force bounced back from ground.
5. Transmit the force from ground to the waist then to the center of the back then to the shoulder, then to the elbow, then to the palm.
6. Switch the leg when your one side is getting tired. Repeat this left and right.
This shall be practiced for any new students for at least 10 min a day, for advanced students, make the step bigger to increase the strength of the leg.
Breathing: Nature, for advanced practitioner it shall be discussed separately.
Q: Tai Chi seeks to be supple but what is the use of suppleness?
A: Seeking suppleness enables you to separate your body into pieces. If an opponent pushes against your forearm, your elbow doesn’t move; if against your elbow it moves, but not your shoulder; if against your shoulder it moves, but not your body; if against your body it moves but not your waist; if against your waist it moves but not your leg. This process leaves you as stable as a mountain. When you discharge your opponent, then it is from the feet through the legs to the waist, body, shoulders, elbows, and hands – all connected as one unit, discharging energy like an arrow toward its target. If you cannot relax, your whole body becomes one piece and, even though it is strong, a stronger person will be able to push your one piece and cause you to be unstable. Thus the use of suppleness is crusial. With it you can be one unit attacking and fragmented parts defending – able to be relaxed and hard, agile stepping forward or back, and substantial and insubstantial as needed. Whit these abilities you will then have all of the Taichi function.
Reference: T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming ( Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith ) North Atlantic Books 1985
Zhu Datong from the promotion text to “Analysis of Yin-Yang Structure of the Internal Energy in Taijiquan DVD Series” (Red.)
Eighty-one Forms of the Natural Taijiquan (Internal Energy)
There are Eighty-one Forms in the Natural Taijiquan, including three chapters of Internal Energy, Practical Combat, and Health Care. Nine forms in nine sections, a total of eighty-one forms. It exercises the heart, spirit, mind, and energy, from the upper to the lower, the inner to the outer. It is art, an exercise in the art of relaxation and flexibility in the exchange of Yin and Yang. The characteristic of the Natural Taijiquan is following the principle and the track of natural ways. The first is light and agile, it focuses on the mind not the force. It moves in an arc during the exchange of Yin and Yang. It moves as the water, which is the softest in the world. Practicing this set of boxing is as natural and smooth as the floating clouds and flowing water. It is good for the health and it can drive away disease and prolong life.
Change the Thinking and Concept, Nine Relaxing, Ten Need and One Lightness
Before we take up Taiji we should have an understanding of its structure and quality. Taiji has its own roles and traits. It has some common features with other techniques of martial arts, but it has its own features like the changing of Yin and Yang, flexibility, the usage of consciousness instead of force, be cooperated with the up and down, coordination between the inner and the outer, changing between the emptiness and the solidness, and practicing of boxing passively. The fundamental skills of Taiji are important, the hands and the feet must cooperate with each other. The basic skills are from the bottom to the top, relaxing the toe, heel, knee, crotch, elbow, waist, shoulder, wrist, hand, and fingers. All in succession. This is Nine Relaxing. The Ten Need are: keeping the buttocks down, wrapping the crotch, shrinking the abdomen, dropping hips, extending the chest, making the back round, emptying armpits, and straightening the neck. One lightness: Pushing the head up in mind. The Conghui point as the Yang peak and the Baihui point as the Yin peak.
Three Move, Three No Move and Calming the mind, will and spirits
Pay attention to the practice of Three Move and Three No Move: That is the movement of hands without the feet’s movement, vice versa, or the movement of both at the same time. Three No Move of the body: firstly, no movements; secondly, no active movements; thirdly, no rush. Also, there are Three No Move about hands: firstly, no movement; secondly, not letting go; thirdly, no resistance. The Three no Move about the hands and feet: firstly, movement of hands without feet; secondly, feet’s movement without the hands; thirdly, the movement of both. (You will be familiar with when to do movement of hands and feet, after you practice more.) In the practice and pushing hands, Three Move and Three No Move are very important. It is not important how the master teaches you, but decided by the Yin and Yang changes of Taijiquan. Taijiquan emphasizes building up the body, as well as silence of mind. Practicing Quan is to calm your mind. Don’t be fickle and eager for quick success and instant benefits.
Taiji Hand and Art of Roushou
Taiji Hand is made of fingers, palms, and wrist. Don’t use hand with power so it is empty. Through the years’ practice we understand not to put power on Taiji Hands so it will move freely. if there is any block, it will do harm to the health. Empty hands are good for the natural sinking of shoulders and elbows. The sinking of the shoulder is connected with that of the elbow. Relax with the 28 small joints, which have their own functions. Pushing hands is made by long term practice of relaxation of hands. It is the combination of exercising and application of Taiji Quan. Mr. Jin Yong has some understanding of Taiji and there are many rules of pushing, which can be set into four categories: firstly, control movement with quietude and taking advantage while in disadvantage; secondly, using the consciousness instead of power; thirdly, subduing the hardness by the softness; fourthly, countering a big power with small power.
Taiji Eight-direction Line
Eight-direction Line Diagram is formed by The Thirteen Postures, including eight directions: four normal directions of martial arts (east, west, south, north), and four corners directions (northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest), combined with five steps (advancing, retreating, look to the left, look to the right, central equilibrium). The circular Eight-direction Line Diagram is from a square, forming from the rim of a circle at the center extremely important. While practicing Taijiquan, as long as there is Eight-direction Line, there will be an accurate central point. Because of this, the directions and position will be unmistakable, preventing from a mistake that “small error can lead to a serious result.”
The Complement of Yin and Yang
The researchers who study the traditional Taijiquan know very well that the important characteristic of Taijiquan is that the status of yin and yang play a leading role in Taijiquan. Respond if there is change of Yin and Yang. Yin is inseparable from Yang, and vice versa. The complement of yin and yang is something like Taiji totem which the fish of yin and yang are independent of each other. Because yang refers to inhaling and opening, Yin refers to expanding, exhaling, and joining. They connect together from head to tail. It is just the complement of yin and yang. Black fish, yin, has a white eye, and white fish, yang, has a black eye. There is yang in the yin, and vice versa. This is indeed the meaning of the quan theory. It will not fail as long as you use this theory.
Eighty-one Forms of the Natural Taijiquan (Practical Combat)
There are Eighty-one Forms in the Natural Taijiquan, including three chapters of Internal Energy, Practical Combat, and Health Care. Nine forms in nine sections, a total of eighty-one forms. It exercises the heart, spirit, mind, and energy, from the upper to the lower, the inner to the outer. It is art, an exercise in the art of relaxation and flexibility in the exchange of Yin and Yang. The characteristic of the Natural Taijiquan is following the principle and the track of natural ways. The fist is light and agile, it focuses on the mind not the force. It moves in an arc during the exchange of Yin and Yang. It moves as the water, which is the softest in the world. Practicing this set of boxing is as natural and smooth as the floating clouds and flowing water. It is good for the health and it can drive away disease and prolong life.
From principles for Taijiquan written by the ancestors, it is said that the base is the foot. The foot is the base, so relax the foot, the toes. Relax from the foot, the knee, the crotch, the waist, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, and the hand, from the foot to the top. The solid step is completely sold while the empty step is completely empty. Exchange the Yin and Yang when stepping. In the boxing, Yin and Yang exchange all on the foot. There is no need to move the hand, just change the Yin and Yang on the foot. Move from the foot, to the leg, and the waist without a break. The upper follows the lower, and the outer joins the inner. It is useless without the foot. Zhu Datong experienced the function of the foot during a practice, in Wu-style Taijiquan. The center is on one leg, the foot is the base, the base of change between Yin and Yang. Zhu Datong came up with a formula: the upper and the lower are in one line, Yin and Yang exchange on the feet.
Search YouTube to find other videos with Zhu Datong
In the province of Szechwan in China lived until last week Li Ching-yun. In China where Age means something he was a great man. By his own story he was born in 1736, had lived 197 years. By the time he was ten years old he had traveled in Kansu, Shansi, Tibet, Annam, Siam and Manchuria gathering herbs. He continued to gather herbs for the rest of his first 100 years. He lived on herbs and plenty of rice wine. When asked for his secret of long life. Li Ching-yun gave it readily: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.” The “Scholar War Lord” Wu Pei-fu. not satisfied with this formula, took Li into his home and was lectured on “how to get the most out of each century” by maintaining “inward calm.” Some said he had buried 23 wives, was living with his 24th. a woman of 60, had descendants of eleven generations. The fingernails of his venerable right hand were six inches long. Yet to skeptical Western eyes he looked much like any Chinese 60-year-old. In 1930 Professor Wu Chung-chieh, dean of the department of education at Chengtu University, found records that the Imperial Chinese Government had congratulated one Li Ching-yun in 1827 on his birthday. The birthday was his 150th, making the man who died last week—if it was the same Li Ching-yun, and respectful Chinese preferred to think so—a 256-year-old.
Yang style long form performed by Li Tianji (1913-1996), son of Li Yulin, who was student of Li Jinglin, Sun Lutang and Yang Chengfu.
Li Tianji studied wushu from his father, Li Yulin, as well as from his father’s masters, Sun Lutang and Li Jinglin. He graduated from the Shandong Wushu Institute, became a college professor, the executive of the Harbin Wushu Federation, and the first chief coach of the China Wushu Team. Li Tianji has been memorialized as one of the “Ten Best Wushu Masters of China (Zhongguo Shi Da Wushu Mingshi).”
In 1956 Li Tianji created the first standardized simplified taijiquan: 24-Form Simplified Taijiquan and 32-Form Simplified Taiji Sword.
What is Peng Jin and is it better to maintain a little in the arms for example to prevent people from coming in?
People misunderstand Peng. There is another word with the same sound and only one stroke different that means something like structure or framework and people often think this is what is meant by Peng. If you base your Taiji on this incorrect meaning of Peng then the whole of your Taiji will be incorrect. Peng Jin is over the whole body and it is used to measure the strength and direction of the partners force. But it is incorrect to offer any resistance. It should be so light that the weight of a feather will make it move. It can be described like water which will, with no intention of its own, support equally the weight of a floating leaf or the weight of a floating ship. Then he added in English: “Peng Jin is sensitivity”.
Professor Ji Jian-Cheng – Zhejiang University, China
If you want to master Tai Chi Chuan, you first need to understand ‘Wuji’ (emptiness, formlessness). And, to really comprehend the inner meaning of Tai Chi, you also have to be aware of its philosophy and principles, and practice according to them. Then, after a long period of disciplined training you will finally understand the essence of Tai Chi Chuan.
When learning Tai Chi Chuan, the first thing to do is to practice ‘Tai Chi Gong’. This focuses on the fundamentals of Tai Chi ‘Neigong’ (internal training). It is said that, “to practice Tai Chi we must first start from understanding ‘Wuji’ and with diligent practice will come the realisation of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’”. So, before starting to practice the form, you should first do ‘Tai Chi Gongfa’ (Tai Chi basic principles). For example, practice ‘Tai Chi Zhuanggong’ (standing exercise), and you will gradually experience a feeling of silence and peace in your mind and you will feel as if your body is empty. When you hold your hands out you will feel as though you are holding a balloon; you will forget your legs, they will feel like they are not there. When practicing ‘Tai Chi Gong’ you should feel like you are not breathing, but are still in control of your breath. Allow your breath to be natural, long and deep, use your mind to direct the ‘Qi’ to various parts of your body.When you experience ‘Wuxing’ (formlessness/intangibility), you will slowly feel the energy circulating throughout your body. With long and continual practice you will find that your strength will be greater than before and your ‘Qi’ (‘inner breath and essence’) will increase with every day of practice. These points should help you to get a solid foundation in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.
The Five Stages Of Tai Chi Practice:
The first stage is to learn the Tai Chi form and to master its postures and movements. It does not matter whether the posture is static or moving, you must always keep the following points in mind: Feel as if the crown of the head is being lifted from above; the chin should incline slightly toward the chest; the shoulders should be relaxed and the arms should fall naturally to your sides; the spine should be kept straight with the chest very slightly curving inwards; the hips must be relaxed and the buttocks turned under a little; the hips and shoulders should be in line and the spine vertical to the ground which should produce a natural comfortable feeling. When moving, whether it be back, forward, left, right or turning, all movements must come from the hips, but the hips should not sway from side to side otherwise the body will come out of alignment. Moving forward or backward, you must keep your centre of gravity low and also at a constant height so that the body does not move up and down, etc. At this stage and with gradual training, you should let your arms become ‘lighter’, your legs placed firmly but lightly.
With the second stage of practice, it is important to place your strength in the roots of the feet. Whether moving forward or back, left or right, or turning, one must place the weight on the feet and then ‘deng jiao’ i.e. first press downwards then lift the foot up, as if compressing a spring, to move forward, back, left, right etc. Moreover, when pivoting on the heel the force of the movement must be opposite to the direction the heel is pivoting. This way the hips will follow the movement of the pivoting and the hips will lead the body in its movement. After a long period of practice, the whole body will gradually become relaxed, alive and nimble and the body’s energy will come from the feet and the counter-action of the pivoting movement. Once this second phase has been achieved, one can then place one’s force at the base of the feet. The principles of Tai Chi Chuan say, “the force (jing) comes from the base of the feet to direct the waist”. Note that the waist includes the lower spinal area and can also include the hips.
At the third stage of practice, ‘Fajing’ (expressing energy) is the main objective. According to the expression ‘Rou xing qi, gang luo dian’ when expressing the energy it is very soft until the last moment and then it becomes as hard as iron. When attempting to express one’s energy in each movement of the form, the two feet must ‘deng jiao’ – press into the ground for the energy to come through, as mentioned earlier, like pressing spring to release its energy. For example, when expressing energy in a forward direction, the crown of the head must be as if lifted from above, the waist must be relaxed and the spine ‘tail’ must be inclined slightly forward, whilst the lower spine must be inclined slightly back. The shoulders should be relaxed and the elbows should be facing downward. When you express energy (fajing) all parts of the body must act together and feel like an iron spring being compressed, then at the very last moment your energy can be released, with the body moving in an opposite / back from the direction that ones energy is being expressed. The whole body should feel as though it is being stretched out as if like (five) bows ready to be fired. One bow is at the legs, one at the waist, one at the shoulders, one at the elbows and one bow at the wrist and hands. At this time the eyes must look far outwards in a forward direction so as if to express the explosive energy very far outwards. “Using your mind to express the energy far outwards will in turn let your energy actually be expressed far outwards”. When practising the form, each movement must be performed in this way of using the mind to express the energy far outward.
At the fourth stage, after practicing ‘fajing’ (explosive energy) for a while, it is best to have an experienced teacher test whether your ‘fajing’ technique is correct. The teacher will ‘try’ the students ‘jing’ (energy) to see if the student is in fact using the whole body correctly to express this explosive energy. That is, to verify that the feet are acting like a spring when expressing ones energy, the waist is indeed twisting to transfer the energy, the shoulders are being ‘urged’ forward by the energy, the arms and elbows are being ‘sent’ forward and at the moment the energy reaches the wrist and hands is being expressed into the ‘hard’ energy. If this energy can or not in fact be transmitted through to the teacher’s body will indicate if the student has mastered ‘fajing’ technique and thus this fourth stage. To test this ‘fajing’ is to see if one has mastered Tai Chi Chuan so as to advance to the next levels. If the teacher can feel the students energy being transmitted into his own body, then it means the student has mastered ‘Taiji Neijing’ use and way of expressing the inner energy, then the students Taiji level will elevate to higher levels with each day of practice. But the mastery of ‘Neijing’ is a complex matter and the student must rely on an experienced teacher to correct any faults and to guide the student to the correct execution and understanding of ‘Neijing’.
Stage five is ‘Quixujing’, the training to distinguish solid and emptiness and quietness, the understanding of solid and empty in each movement and the changes involved, and to bring about a quietness and relaxing of the self whilst moving and practicing the form. From the above mentioned five stages of practice all need to rely on correct body movement and expression of power, but with stage five, one needs to use the mind to master the understanding of solid and empty and quietness of ones movements. One must use the mind to direct the form as expressed (in the above four stages). That is the foot as a spring, twisting of the waste, to urge forward the shoulders, to sending out the elbows and arms to express the energy once it has reached the wrists and hands. At the very last stage then, one will be using the mind to express the explosive energy and to direct the form. When performing the Taiji movements, one should have a feeling of resistance around the skin of the whole body like feeling the resistance of water when swimming or moving through water. When you can feel this resistance of air over the body while in motion, then you have improved to a level that, for example, can be used in application or in ‘pushing hands’ so that you will ‘know’ where the opponent’s energy/force is at the moment of contact.
II: Important Points For Mastering Tai Chi Chuan
When practicing Tai Chi Chuan, one must use the mind to direct the flow of ‘Qi’. Once the mind has directed the flow of ‘Qi’, then it is the ‘Qi’ that will direct the movement of the body. If one follows this way of practice, then this will invigorate the body’s ‘Jing’ (inner essence – not the same word as ‘explosive energy-Jing’), which will then create more ‘Qi’ in the body which will also stimulate one’s ‘Shen’(spirit). Again, as if feeding and growing off each other, this will increase the ‘Jing’ and therefore more ‘Qi’ and higher levels of ‘Shen’; and like a constant cycle from ‘Jing’ to ‘Qi’ to ‘Shen’ and back to ‘Jing’ again, will help to improve ones well-being and a healthier state of mind. Therefore it is very important to diligently practice and carefully notice in each posture the flow of ‘Qi’ and direction of movement. When you practice Tai Chi Chuan, you must have softness as well as firmness in the form but you cannot be too soft or too hard. Regardless of which posture one is performing, one must adhere to this principle of softness and firmness. If too soft, one will not have enough energy and the ‘Shen’ (spirit) will not be aroused. If too firm, then ones ‘Qi’ will not be able to circulate throughout the body and will become too brittle and will therefore be easily broken. One should not use one’s musclular strength or brute force as if too tense in practice because the flow of ‘Qi’ will be obstructed and the body will feel clumsy. If brute strength is used, then not only will the flow of ‘Qi’ be obstructed but also one will not be able to ‘feel’ the opponent’s energy and thus will not be able to neutralise it. When practising Tai Chi Chuan one should not practice with fury or rage. If so, one will be too brittle/firm and will be easily ‘broken’. Moreover, if one does practices with rage then the ‘Qi’ will be retained in the chest and will feel uncomfortable and this can have detrimental effects on the body and health. Therefore one must be patient with practice and should be relaxed, and after adhering to the principles of Tai Chi Chuan, after a period of diligent training, will reap the rewards. When practicing Tai Chi Chuan, ones shoulders and chest should not be too open, the body should not be too crouched over and the stomach should not be ‘sucked’ in so as the chest is protruding outwards. If one practices in such a way then it is possible that the ‘Qi’ will flow in a reverse way that it should and may not be able to return to the ‘Dantian’ and in turn the ‘Qi’ will rise upward and there will be a feeling of imbalance. With the practise of Tai Chi Chuan one should understand a little about Chinese medicine theory. Therefore when performing Taiji one can understand, for example, where the ’Dantian’ is and where one is directing the ‘Qi’ to and how to bring the ‘Qi’ back to the ‘Dantian’. It is important to note that the ‘Qi’ should always be allowed to return to the ‘Dantian’. Therefore in this way, there is a constant flow from the ‘Dantian’ to all parts of the body and then back to the ‘Dantian’.
When you practice the form, you should not always be thinking of how the movements are used to deal with an opponent (information on applications is given in Professor Ji’ article ‘Tai Chi Applications’ ). Instead, you should be using the ‘Yi’ (mind) and ‘Qi’ to direct the movement. If you are always thinking of how to strike an attacker then your Tai Chi Chuan will not advance to the higher levels of understanding. Therefore, you must be patient with practice and with diligent training and the building up of ‘Jing’, ‘Qi’ and ‘Shen’ eventually you will be able to express explosive energy. When you understand the above points, and with diligent practice, you will be able to improve your inner strength and increase longevity by the cultivation of ‘Jing’, ‘Qi’ and ‘Shen’. Then you will really understand Tai Chi Chuan.