Song of Substance and Function

1. Taijiquan. Thirteen postures.
The marvel lies in the nature of qi; yin and yang.

2. It changes into infinity and returns to the one.
Returns to the one, taijiquan.

3. The two primary principles (yin and yang) and four manifestations are without boundary.

To ride the wind, the head is suspended at the crown, from above.

4. I have words for those who can understand:
“If the yonquan (bubbling well) has no root, or the yao (waist) has no control, life long practise will be in vain”.

5. There is no secret about the substance and function, they interrelate.
The only way is to let wide and flowing qi extend into the fingers.

6. Always remain in central equilibrium during peng (ward off), lu (roll-back), ji (press), an (push), cai (pluck), lie (split), zhou (elbow strike) and kao (lean-on), and also when steeping forward, sitting backward, looking left, looking right, and staying centered.

7. Neutralizing without neutralizing, yielding without yielding.
Sit back before you move forward.

8. When the body is like a cloud, the whole body functions as the hands.
The hands are not [only] the hands.

9. The mind must always remain aware.

Reference:
The Song of Substance translated by Wee Kee Jin
Taijiquan Wuwei: A Natural Process
ISBN 9780473097813

p. 123

Songs of the eight postures

Attributed to T’an Meng-hsien
(as researched by Lee N. Scheele)

The Song of Peng

What is the meaning of Peng energy?
It is like the water supporting a moving boat.
First sink the ch’i to the tan-t’ien,
then hold the head as if suspended from above.
The entire body is filled with springlike energy,
opening and closing in a very quick moment. 
Even if the opponent uses a thousand pounds of force,
he can be uprooted and made to float without difficulty.

The Song of Lu

What is the meaning of Lu energy?
Entice the opponent toward you by allowing him to advance, 
lightly and nimbly follow his incoming force
without disconnecting and without resisting. 
When his force reaches its farthest extent,
it will naturally become empty. 
The opponent can then be let go or countered at will.
Maintain your central equilibrium 
and your opponent cannot gain an advantage.

The Song of Chi

What is the meaning of Chi energy? 
There are two aspects to its functional use: 
The direct way is to go to meet the opponent 
and attach gently in one movement. 
The indirect way is to use the reaction force
like the rebound of a ball bouncing off a wall, or 
a coin thrown on a drumhead, 
bouncing off with a ringing sound.

The Song of An

What is the meaning of An energy? 
When applied it is like flowing water.
The substantial is concealed in the insubstantial. 
When the flow is swift it is difficult to resist. 
Coming to a high place, it swells and fills the place up;
meeting a hollow it dives downward. 
The waves rise and fall, 
finding a hole they will surely surge in.

The Song of Ts’ai

What is the meaning of Ts’ai energy? 
It is like the weight attached to the beam of a balance scale. 
Give free play to the opponent’s force 
no matter how heavy or light,
you will know how heavy or light it is after weighing it. 
To push or pull requires only four ounces, 
one thousand pounds can also be balanced. 
If you ask what the principle is, 
the answer is the function of the lever.

The Song of Lieh

What is the meaning of Lieh energy? 
It revolves like a spinning disc.
If something is thrown onto it, 
it will immediately be cast more than ten feet away. 
Have you not seen a whirlpool form in a swift flowing stream? 
The waves roll in spiraling currents. 
If a falling leaf drops into it, 
it will suddenly sink from sight.

The Song of Chou

What is the meaning of Chou energy? 
Its method relates to the Five Elements. 
Yin and Yang are divided above and below. 
Emptiness and substantiality must be clearly distinguished. 
Joined in unbroken continuity, 
the opponent cannot resist the posture.
Its explosive pounding is especially fearsome. 
When one has mastered the six kinds of energy, 
the applications become unlimited.

The Song of K’ao

What is the meaning of K’ao energy? 
Its method is divided into the shoulder and back technique. 
In Diagonal Flying Posture use shoulder, 
but within the shoulder technique 
there is also some use of the back. 
Once you have the opportunity and can take advantage of the posture,
the technique explodes like pounding a pestle. 
Carefully maintain your own center of gravity. 
Those who lose it will have no achievement.

Reference: Songs Of The Eight Postures scheele.org

The Bridge Power Training Deeper Strength

The Bridge

If you look carefully at the point where the pillars of a bridge bear the structure’s enormous weight, you will often find a small cylinder. This astonishing feature is known as a “bridge bearing.” The purpose of the bearing is to take the weight while giving the entire structure maximum flexibility.

Bridge bearings transfer loads and movements from the deck of the bridge down to the substructure and foundations. They make it possible for the structure to withstand the vibrations of traffic and the expansion and contraction caused by temperature variations. It is also thanks to these bearings that bridges are able to withstand severe winds, tremors and earthquakes.

The bearings are designed to redirect the forces that move over, through and around the structure. Engineers study the “downward forces” that pass through the center of the bearing, the “transverse forces” that move horizontally through the bridge or alongside it, the “uplift forces” that enter the structure from the earth and “rotational forces” that can twist in any direction.

Our feet have a natural bridge-like structure, arching between the ball and heel. They, too, have the capacity to absorb and redirect forces moving in all directions. Training to use the “red triangle” (pages 84–85) takes advantage of this natural structure and greatly increases your ability to react to and redirect forces all around you.

Power Training

To begin this stage of your training, stand in Wu Chi for five minutes with your weight spread evenly over your feet. Then, shift your weight slightly forwards. Let your heels come up just enough to slide a sheet of paper under them. Focus your weight: it should rest on the red triangle shown on page 84. Include this new development in your daily training, so that you are able to remain balanced and stable without any weight on your heels. Progress to the point where you can maintain all the Zhan Zhuang postures, including those on one leg, using only the “red triangles” of your feet.

As you stand in this advanced position, you will naturally engage your large calf muscles. The next stage of this practice is to focus your attention on those muscles, particularly the large gastrocnemius muscle in the bulge of your calf. Try to identify it so you are able to contract it for several seconds without engaging the muscle of your ankle, thigh or buttock and while keeping your body completely relaxed.

Once you have trained your nerves to contract and relax the muscles in both calves, include this in your daily training. Contract and relax the muscles in your left calf up to 30 times, then do the same for your right calf. Then try contracting and relaxing both calves together. Avoid tensing any other muscles: focus your training on the nerves that control the muscles of your calves.

This training develops your internal sensitivity, exercises your nerves and sharpens the ability of your central nervous system to control subtle movements within your body. There is a similar practice for your hands. When you stand in the Zhan Zhuang posture, Holding the Ball (page 13), tighten your left hand into a fist. Squeeze it tightly for about five seconds. Then release the fist and open your hand fully. Stretch your fingers as wide apart as possible. Hold for about five seconds. Then repeat up to 30 times. Do the same with your other hand. When you practice closing and opening each hand, pay particular attention to your upper arms, shoulders and chest: these should remain completely relaxed. If you notice muscles in your upper body tensing, direct your attention to them and relax them.

These two mind-training exercises can become part of your daily practice. Gradually increase the length of time you spend standing with your weight on the “red triangles” of your feet. The the untrained observer, your feet appear flat on the ground, but, as in this photograph of the young Professor Yu, you develop the pump that will transform your practice.

Deeper Strength

A deep connection with the heart is essential for your health and your martial arts power. You develop this connection through your Zhan Zhuang training and the advanced work on the “red triangle” of your foot (pages 84–89). To go further, you need to use the power of your imagination to draw more deeply on the energy of the earth. Clearly visualize the basic triangle from the tip of your head to the base of your feet. Imagine that your feet go straight down into the earth. As your practice deepens, you will feel a second, inverted triangle extending downwards and holding you to the earth.

You can use this deep strength in the martial arts to take the incoming force of an attack into your body and direct it down through your rear leg. If you are learning for the first time, hold a Zhan Zhuang posture to one side and ask a friend to lean on your arms. Keep them in place without tension, directing the pressure down through your back foot.

Through your Zhan Zhuang training, the energetic structure of your body becomes increasingly stronger. Keeping this clearly in mind is vital to the power of Da Cheng Chuan. It is the secret of relaxed strength of advanced practitioners, such as the two masters in this photograph: facing Master Lam is Master Guo Gui Zhi, three times national martial arts champion of China.

When the arms are held in the fundamental Zhan Zhuang position, Holding the Ball (page 13), three principal triangles are involved. Two are formed by the shoulder, elbow and wrist of each arm. The third runs from shoulder to shoulder and connects to the first thoracic vertebra of the spine. These three triangles, combining structural and energetic geometry, remain intact under all pressures, but move flexibly without tension.

Reference:
The Way of Power: Reaching Full Strength in Body and Mind
by Lam Kam Chuen
ISBN 9781856751988

p. 86 – 91

The Ten Essentials of Taijiquan Theory

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
ISBN 9781583941522

P. 16-19

What is the use of suppleness?

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
ISBN: 0938190776

Page: 27

Analysis of Yin-Yang Structure of the Internal Energy in Taijiquan

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.

Taiji Foot

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

Seigo Okamoto on Aiki in Aikijujutsu Daitoryu Roppokai

Seigo Okamoto (b. 10 February 1925). B. Yubari City, Hokkaido. First taught by Kodo Horikawa in 1963 in Kitami, Hokkaido. Received 7th dan from Horikawa in 1974. Okamoto was promoted to shihan by Horikawa in 1978. He separated from the Kodokai to found Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu Roppokai after moving to Tokyo in 1977. Okamoto’s art is characterized by rapidly executed aiki techniques with a minimum of body movement on the part of the defender.

The Tree Principles:

  1. Conditioned reflex
  2. Circular motion
  3. Breath power method

“If you master aiki, you will be able to apply the techniques using very minimal force. A calm spirit and settled breathing are necessary. At the same time the body must be supple.”

Reference:
Daito-Ryu Aiki Jujutsu by Seigo Okamoto
ISBN 4795250677

p. 46

Links:
Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu neigong.net
Interview with Seigo Okamoto Shihan aikidojournal.com 1990

More Videos:
Seigo Okamoto on youtube.com

Making Three Dantians Linear

taoist1.jpgThis type of qigong has been passed on by a Taoist priest by the name of Wang Zhenyi. While practising this type of qigong you should concentrate your attention on making the upper, middle and lower dantians linear. When you have made your three dantians linear, you will attain a very special and comfortable feeling and will almost forget everything. Your small and large circulations will automatically be open to qi. This type of qigong can help you recover quickly from fatigue. No mater how tired you are, you can completely recover after practising this qigong for fifteen minutes. You can do this type of qigong while standing, sitting, lying down, or when practising taijiquan or riding a bicycle. This qigong does not require any preparation or special procedure before stopping.

Procedure:
1. Soon after concentrating your mind in your upper dantian, shift your attention to the lower dantian (huiyin acupoint).

2. After getting the feeling of qi in the lower dantian, shift your mind to the middle dantian and arrange it in line with the upper and lower dantians in order to make the three dantians linear. Then imagine the three dantians as three spheres. You should carefully put the sphere of the middle dantian between the two spheres of upper and lower dantians. The middle sphere will slide out if you do it carelessly.

3. When the three dantians have been made linear, you will get a very special feeling and comfortable feeling. You should hold this feeling as long as possible. It can help you return to the “original state”, to cure diseases and promote your health. You should maintain this feeling and eliminate any distractions.

Reference:
Relax and calming qigong by Wang Peisheng & Chen Guanhua
ISBN 9622381812

p.20

Wang Hao Da’s Message

Correct central equilibrium {Zhong Ding} is the basis for everything else in Taijiquan. One must focus with their complete intention {Yi} to differentiate, that which is external and separate from one’s center. The center is the key; it must remain straight and hidden, concentrated, deep inside the body constantly changing, spiraling into the earth for the most part. One must gather all the Qi {energy} to your center. It is this structure that is the basis for internal power {Nei Jing} or Zhong Ding Jing, and essential for good health and longevity. The Dantien {lower abdomen} is alive! Not only does the Dantien push down inside the open hips but also it turns, spirals, bounces, and shoots; inside the structure is always full, always condensed. When you play the Taiji form you are performing the interaction of your Zhong Ding and Dantien. This hidden internal play moves the outside, not necessarily the entire body like a single lump of wood, rather by gathering everything to your center, your outside body follows the direction of this internal command. It is because your inside works so intensively that you receive the health benefit of Taiji. If one only works externally and has strong skin and muscles but weak organs, vessels, and bones, then the outside may thrive while internally you are dying.

Spiritual concentration is crucial. Your Yi must be strong, focused, pure, intent, gathering, confident, and sensitive. It is the Yi/Qi that work together to develop Nei Jing, not ones outer display of strength, {Li} that epitomizes all that is Taiji. The Yi is used at first to search internally for correct alignment of the Zhong Ding, the Dantien and its range of motion, to differentiate between open and closed, empty and full, extension, rooting, and connections. As one develops this inner sensitivity the next goal is to practice control over these basic principles in the correct way, so that the body remains straight, connected, rooted, full, and spirals throughout the Taiji form. Yi is accountable for the gathering of the Qi, and works in harmony with it, in order for these principles to be applied. Yi is responsible for relaxing the external body, the muscle; for storing the Qi one develops in practice, for making smaller circles and spirals, for condensing movement to small frame, and eventually to no visible movement in order to develop Nei Jing.

Rooting three feet into the earth has a double meaning. First one must make their Yi/Qi thick and sink heavy into the earth at least three feet down. Secondly one’s Zhong Ding, like the tailbone, is a third leg and its foot must be buried into the earth.

Rooting is a very important concept in Taiji. Your root must always be deeper than your opponent. In order to dig them out you must be below them. The Dantien and Zhong Ding must be structurally sound and without correct root this is impossible. However you must not be rigid! You must be light and agile, changeable, quiet yet quick. You must learn to balance your power downwards and upwards; the bottom is heavy, the top is light; connected. In order to root you must have a good understanding of the hips. The hips are very complex, the inside hip {Kua} must be free to open and close, spiral into the earth. The outside hip must be strong and flexible to grip the earth, and the sacrum and tailbone must be straight and changeable. The bowl of the pelvis, like a wok or cauldron must be round and accommodate the Dantien. When you develop an understanding of how these things work in harmony your rooting will become more profound.

Learning to connect is fundamental, yet I have been surprised how western students have missed out on this basic principle. Gripping the earth, whole body structure power {Gatsa Jing} cannot be neglected. Just because one concentrates to the center, develops correct Zhong Ding, the outside body is not tofu. Extension is the basis of connection, yet many people wave their arms around in an unconnected and disharmonious method. As a minimum requirement the three external harmonies should be observed, the arms and legs emerge from the spine and work as such. Yes I say work the internal exclusively, deep internal soft movement like water, full like an air bag, but not at the expense of basic connection – extension.

Silk reeling power {Chan Si Jing} is a significant component of the Wu style. Every movement must be a spiral. One spirals into the earth and one spirals away from the Zhong Ding for discharge of energy, simultaneously. Learning Chan Si is implicit in the form, and form practice should be serious, without tension, without the energy coming up. When I play Taiji my whole body spirals, my feet spiral into and on the earth, my Zhong Ding spirals, my Dantien spirals, my Yi/Qi spirals. My structure outside hides my snake inside. Spiraling stretches the vessels; cleanses the organs, strengthens the bones, and invigorates the entire body. It has been one of the components that restored my health. Now I am like a baby, soft yet tenacious, heavy yet changeable, flexible yet powerful; each day I become younger more rejuvenated and my spirit is thus affected as well. What could be more valuable than good health and happiness?

Taiji form and push hands {Tui Shou} have been my method of rejuvenation and progression. One uses Taiji form practice in order to understand the self, Push Hands to understand the Nei Jing. Each day I practice Wu form, Master Ma’s Longevity Qigong, and Tui Shou. In my form practice I am mindful of many principles. I have included 8 basic ones for you to contemplate. In my Qigong practice Yi/Qi and pure internal work is my guide. I Push Hands in the park every day. Win or lose is of no significance. I lose every time if I use Li. I win if I am quiet, if my Nei Jing is pure, my Zhong Ding Jing correct. Over the years I pushed hands with many people. The one quality I respect most in an opponent is their ability to listen. One can only progress if they have the power to listen {Ting Jing}. If their character is so flawed that they must win at all costs, if they must resort to such base instincts and low level techniques and force, I have no misgivings about returning to them what they aim at me.

The harder they attack, the further they fly.

Reference:
See the whole article Wang Hao Da by courtesy of patrickkellytaiji.com

Links:
Wang Hao Da – Finding the Push Hands Connection patrickkellytaiji.com
Master Wang Hao Da Wu Taichi Fast Form youtube.com

The Secret Method of Release

The Four Characters: Support, Lead, Relax, and Release
Support the opponent’s power and borrow his force. This involves agility. Lead the opponents power to the front of your body, then begin to store your force. This involves concentration. I relax my force without bending. This involves stillness. I release my force from the waist and feet. This involves completeness.

The important Points in Form, Application, and Power Training
The ancients have said, “If you can entice the opponent to enter and then cause him to fall into emptiness, you may use four ounces to deflect a thousand ponds. If you cannot entice the opponent to enter and then cause him to fall into emptiness, you will not be able to use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.” This statement is very deep and has broad applicability; it is beyond the scope of beginners. I will continue with an explanation so that those who have made the decision to study may make progress as they practice. If you want to know your self and know others, you must first give up yourself and follow the opponent. If you want to give up your self and follow the opponent, you must first obtain the opportunity and superior position. If you want to obtain the opportunity and superior position, you must first move the entire body as a coordinated unit. If you want to move your body as a coordinated unit, the whole body must be without misalignment, your spirit and qi must be stimulated. If you want to stimulate your spirit and qi, you must first raise your spirit. If you want to raise your spirit, you must not let your spirit be dispersed externally. If you want to prevent your spirit from being dispersed externally, you must concentrate your spirit and qi in your bones. If you want to concentrate your spirit and qi in your bones, the front of your hips must have power, the shoulders must be relaxed, and the qi sunk downward. The force (jing) must come from the heels, transform in the legs, be stored in the chest, and moved in the shoulders. The leader is the waist. Above, the arms coordinate in attack. Below, the legs follow. The force is changed internally. Withdrawing is closing. Releasing is opening. When still, all is still. Stillness is closing. In the midst of closing is the desire to open. When in motion, everything moves. Movement is opening. Moving through the forms is the gung fu of understanding the self.

Before moving, first check to see if the whole body is conforming to the above described principles. If any part of the body is not in alignment with any of the principles, immediately make corrections. This why the forms must be done slowly and not quickly. Striking Hands (pushing hands) is the gung fu of understanding others, of knowing others in movement and stillness. All this still involves questioning the self. If positioned correctly, as soon as the opponent strikes I do not have to disturb his actions in the slightest but take advantage of his movement and enter. I am assured of borrowing his force. The opponent throws himself. If you are not in a position of power, you still not have remedied the problem of “double-weighting.”1) The answer is found in yin/yang and opening/closing. This is what is meant by “Know yourself and know others, and in a hundred battles you will taste victory a hundred times.”

1) “Double-wieghting” refers to using force directly against the force of the opponent, there by creating two centers or “weights.”

A Study of Taijiquan
by Sun Lutang, Translated by Tim Cartmell
ISBN 1556434626

p. 219-20

Thirteen Important Points in Taijiquan

Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows; contain the chest and pull up the back; the qi sinks to dantian; an intangible energy lifts up the crown of the head; loosen the waist and kua; distinguish empty and full; upper and lower follow one another; use mind intent, not strength; inner and outer are united; intention and qi interact; seek stillness in movement; movement and stillness are united; and proceed evenly from posture to posture. These thirteen points must be attended to in each and every movement. One cannot neglect the concept of these thirteen points within any of the postures. I hope that students will be cautiously attentative, and test and verify these in their practise.

Yang Chengfu (1883-1936) The Essence and Applications of Taijiquan translated by Louis Swaim
ISBN 1556435452

p. 12-13

The Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan

Attributed to Wang Tsung-yueh [Wang Zongyue] (18th Century)
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

T’ai Chi [Supreme Ultimate] comes from Wu Chi [Formless Void]
and is the mother of yin and yang.
In motion T’ai Chi separates;
in stillness yin and yang fuse and return to Wu Chi.

It is not excessive or deficient;
it follows a bending, adheres to an extension.

When the opponent is hard and I am soft,
it is called tsou [yielding].

When I follow the opponent and he becomes backed up,
it is called nian [sticking].

If the opponent’s movement is quick,
then quickly respond;
if his movement is slow,
then follow slowly.

Although there are innumerable variations,
the principles that pervades them remain the same.

From familiarity with the correct touch,
one gradually comprehends chin [intrinsic strength];
from the comprehension of chin one can reach wisdom.

Without long practice
one cannot suddenly understand T’ai Chi.

Effortlessly the chin reaches the headtop.

Let the ch’i [vital life energy] sink to the tan-t’ien [field of elixir].

Don’t lean in any direction;
suddenly appear,
suddenly disappear.

Empty the left wherever a pressure appears,
and similarly the right.

If the opponent raises up, I seem taller;
if he sinks down, then I seem lower;
advancing, he finds the distance seems incredibly long;
retreating, the distance seems exasperatingly short.

A feather cannot be placed,
and a fly cannot alight
on any part of the body.

The opponent does not know me;
I alone know him.

To become a peerless boxer results from this.

There are many boxing arts.

Although they use different forms,
for the most part they don’t go beyond
the strong dominating the weak,
and the slow resigning to the swift.

The strong defeating the weak
and the slow hands ceding to the swift hands
are all the results of natural abilities
and not of well-trained techniques.

From the sentence “A force of four ounces deflects a thousand pounds”
we know that the technique is not accomplished with strength.

The spectacle of an old person defeating a group of young people,
how can it be due to swiftness?

Stand like a perfectly balanced scale and
move like a turning wheel.

Sinking to one side allows movement to flow;
being double-weighted is sluggish.

Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize,
and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.

To avoid this fault one must distinguish yin from yang.

To adhere means to yield.
To yield means to adhere.

Within yin there is yang.
Within yang there is yin.

Yin and yang mutually aid and change each other.

Understanding this you can say you understand chin.
After you understand chin,
the more you practice,
the more skill.

Silently treasure knowledge and turn it over in the mind.
Gradually you can do as you like.

Fundamentally, it is giving up yourself to follow others.
Most people mistakenly give up the near to seek the far.
It is said, “Missing it by a little will lead many miles astray.”

The practitioner must carefully study.

This is the Treatise

Reference:
T’ai Chi Ch’uan Classics www.scheele.org

Waves of Movement

Author: Patrik Kelly (by courtesy of patrickkellytaiji.com)

All fluids move in waves. Energy moves through fluids either as a transfer of mass with a stored momentum, or as a wave of elastic displacement that leaves the medium undisturbed once it has passed. Stored momentum gives a more external force and elastic displacement a more internal one. Different types of waves appear when we move. Forward and backward waves are generated from the hips moving horizontally slightly ahead of the rest of the body. Moving the body in horizontal curves produces waves in all horizontal directions. Twisting waves are produced by turning the hips slightly ahead of the rest of the body. Twisting waves wind along lines of elastic connection between the points of application of force and the ground. Vertical waves appear when the hips lift and sink before the upper-body. Adding this vertical dimension produces waves of compression and expansion up and down the body, which power the lifting and lowering of the arms. Smooth continuous waves that ripple and interact throughout the body in a complex and natural manner are a final result of the simultaneous interaction of these three types of waves.

Learning to produce and regulate these waves requires an intelligently designed series of steps leading from the simple to the complex. Any section of the body can be trained to move ahead of the rest of the body, creating a simple two-part wave. Later, several of these two-part waves can be assembled to create more complex wave patterns. Two part twisting waves are formed when the pelvis begins to rotate and the upper-body and arms follow. Two-part vertical waves are generated by sinking the lower half of the body before the upper half producing waves of compression and expansion centred in the pelvis. Somewhat controversial, but supported by experience and logic, is the advancing and retreating of the lower-body before the upper when two-part forward and back waves appear. Basic three part waves appear when the lower-body leads the upper-body which then leads the arm – where the arm is taken to extend from the fingertips to the lowest point of the shoulder-blade.

One, two, three or more part waves can also appear in any section of the body. A three part arm wave involving moving first the shoulder then the elbow and finally the wrist, is used to transmit waves of power from the upper-body to the hand. From this it is a simple step conceptually to produce a sequence of movement from the sole of the foot to the finger tips, with a slight delay at every joint as the muscles, tendons and ligaments stretch. The arms and legs can also twist in unison with the waist so that the force spirals as it travels. The sense of this twisting can be given when you visualise a hand moving over the surface of a ball. Then the palm and forearm rotate as they move, to maintain contact with the surface of the ball.

Reference: Quote from Daoist Principles in Practice by Patrik Kelly

Building a Connection

by Wee Kee-Jin

Taijiquan is not simply relaxing, sinking and being grounded. It is about developing; the right structure; the right sequence of movements to connect the structure; the right timing of the movements; and the mind awareness (Yi) to travel through the movements.
A structure without the sequence of movements is like an electrical cable without the copper wire inside the plastic tube. Without the mind awareness (Yi) even the correct structure with the right sequence and timing of the movements, is like the wire not having a current passing through it.

Connecting the Base and Arms
Often the movements of the base (feet, legs & hips) and the arms are co-ordinated but unconnected, and therefore incorrectly act independent of each other. The connection between the base and arms is in the body’s torso and needs to be cultivated using the mind awareness (Yi) to create a melting sensation through the body as it leads the force from the feet to the finger-tips.

When initially practised it is difficult to recognise anything happening but after a few years of training it is possible to feel even very small muscles in the body change as the mind directs. Eventually the base movements will actually produce the movement in the body which in turn will produce the movement in the arms, both during sinking and issuing.

It is easier to first cultivate the body connecting the base and arms in static foot positions and repetitive movements such as in Master Huang’s relaxing exercises before involving the stepping and changing postures of the Form. Later work it with the addition of an external force in the controlled environment of fixed pushing-hand routines, before attempting it in the free pushing, where the external force direction and speed is not restricted.

Once the whole body is continuously connected, and the timing becomes almost natural, neutralising would involve allowing an incoming force to pass through you into the ground where it would be combined with the energy of the earth and rebounded in greater magnitude back to the source of the incoming force. This “interception” does not require you to initiate any issuing as your body will have become a medium for the forces to pass through unimpeded.

Reference: http://www.taijiquan.co.nz/