The Importance of Sequence and Timing to Achieve Synchronization

by Wee Kee-Jin

The Taiji Form regardless of what style, was created as a means to train moving in a synchronized and harmonious Taiji way. During Pushing-hands we extend the practise of synchronized movement to include when being effected by an external force. When we can synchronize all the physical (external) and mental (internal) movements in our daily life, we will no longer be restricted or imprisoned by the Taiji Form, because then the Form will have become formless.

Synchronization
The classics state that; when one part of the body changes every part of the body changes along with it; when one part of the body moves every part of the body moves; the destination might be different but the time of arrival is the same – all parts of the body arriving together.

The key to achieve this principle is synchronization both of the sequence and timing. Being the continuous fine tuning of muscles co-ordinated simultaneously throughout the body.
The physical synchronizing and aligning always begins at the base by releasing the ankles, knees and hips then the shoulders, elbows and wrists. Both upward and downward actions start at the feet, get magnified in the legs and ripple through the body into the arms before being expressed to the finger-tips.

All turning originates from within. There is a line you should imagine running from the crown of the head (niwan) to the tailbone (weilui) that serves as the central axis of the body. From directly above you would see turning as being initiated at the axis about a small circle then expands to the medium circle of the body, then reaching the big circle of the arms.
Although there is a sequence, the movements must be in relation to each other. Any missed timings would effect the whole synchronization.

When stepping forward or backward you need to continue the synchronizing into the substantial foot to create the movement of the insubstantial foot. While the insubstantial foot is stepping, the centre is changing, so the substantial foot adjusts continuously.
Therefore both in the Taiji Form and Pushing-hands all parts of the body synchronize to create a movement and to respond to an incoming force.

To internally synchronize, there first must be physical relaxation and mental calmness. Then the melting sensation of relaxation can flow through the body and legs, into the ground. This is what is called ‘sinking’ and produces ‘grounding’. This downward feeling can then be released and rebound up from the ground through the feet, legs, body and arms, to the fingertips, but only if the body has continued to relax. This generates the force (Jing) and cultivates the ability to deliver it (Fa-jing). Although there is a sequence from the feet to the finger-tips, the timing required is in close relation to each other. After a while the stages overlap until eventually simultaneous, that means at the moment of 1% of relaxation, there is 1% sinking, 1% grounding and 1% rebounding force, which will then continue to 2%, 3% onwards.

In Taiji the ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ originates from the ‘centre’, which is where the ‘tantien’ and the central axis meet. Not only does the opening expand from the centre, but the closing also contracts from there; – both are from the inside outwards.
Once the opening and closing are clear, their timing recombines until simultaneous. Then “when there is opening there is closing, and in closing there is opening”. So that at a moment of closure you also experience being open.

The opening and closing needs to be synchronized with the relaxation, sinking, grounding, and issuing of the relaxed force.
Finally when the external and the internal are in harmony, and the timing and sequence are in relation to each other, total synchronization is achieved. Then when one part of the body changes every part of the body will change along with it, and when one part of the body moves every part of the body will move, and when one part of the body arrives every part will arrive.

Qiqong and Taiji
A commonly asked question when someone is studying Taiji, is whether they should practise Qigong as well. Any exercise that develops the use of your mind to circulate the flow of energy (Qi or Chi) in the body is Qigong. Therefore Taiji is Qigong, however Qigong is not Taiji.

Yin and Yang
The terms of Yin and Yang are frequently used in Taiji, and are often made to sound mystical. Unlike words such as table and chair which refer to specific objects, Yin and Yang are concepts describing opposites that have a relationship to each other; up and down; front and back; internal and external; positive and negative; male and female; dark and light; etc. They are as complementary as they are contrasting. Their existence and combination are actually scientific, not mystical.
The essence of Taiji is simplicity; black and white. It is not necessary to colour it with esoteric descriptions.

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

Open Taijidag ’06 in Amsterdam

Stichting Taijiquan Nederland invites the whole world to an open Taiji day with forms, demo shows, workshops and competition in Amsterdam, Holland all day 28. October 2006.

Amsterdam, Holland, Europe
SPORTHALLEN ZUID
Sporthallen Zuid, Burgerweeshuispad 54, 1076 EP Amsterdamzaal

Enterance 8.30 (9 -17) € 7,- per person

http://www.taijiquan.nl
Open Taijidag 2006 Invitation (pdf)

The Harmony of Yin and Yang

As the Yang energy arises in another it is embraced with your Yin energy and becomes one harmonious energetic interaction. Dualistic thought is lost as one flowing energetic movement is embraced so that it is only one movement and not two. When this is demonstrated it appears as one seamless, graceful flowing movement without any conflict of energy being observed. The Yin completely absorbs the Yang and then leads it on its chosen path. In this way the desire of the one expressing Yang is not interrupted in any way but is encouraged and embraced. It must arise naturally and in so doing cannot be repeated as that would mean putting a movement on top of what was occurring instead of being in harmony with the movement as it is happening. As such it will be different every time.

The feeling of this movement is like falling into a ‘void.’ You are not thrown in the true sense but will find yourself falling into nothingness with no idea of what had just occurred. This is because it arose out of harmonious connected movement without any conflict. As this occurs it creates joy in both people as they experience oneness.

Quote: Aikido Journal, Mark Bilson 12.th. of July 2006

Jeijin – receiving energy

According to Huang Sheng-Shyan, the difference between taiji and other martial arts, is that taiji can ultimately develop jeijin (receiving energy), where yielding, neutralizing and discharging, all happen simultaneously. There is hardly any physical movement, and no mental intention at all, everything happens spontaneously and naturally.

The practitioner is in a state of absolute central equilibrium, the posture is totally connected and relaxed with the feet deeply rooted. The mind is calm and as still as a mountain. By being totally connected, connected and relaxed the body become an empty void. When an external force contacts, the body does not resist it, the force just passes through until it hits the ground and rebounds back throwing the opponent. Similar to pile driving during construction work, the deeper the pile is driven into the earth, the higher the hammer rebounds.

Achieving jeijin (receiving energy) indicates attaining shenming (taiji enlightment), at which point (sparring) techniques becomes irrelevant.

Taijiquan Wuwei, Kee-Jin Wee Oct 2003
ISBN: 0473097818

Page: 64

Chen Wei-Ming on Agility

If the body is clumsy, then in advancing or retreating it cannot be free; therefore it most be agile. Once you raise your arm, you cannot appear clumsy. The moment the force of the opponent touches my skin and hair, my mind is already penetrating his bones. When holding up the arms, the chi (breath) is threaded together continuously. When the left side is heavy, it empties, and the right side is already countering. The chi is like a wheel, and the whole body must naturally coordinate. If there is any uncoordinated place, the body becomes disordered and weak. The defect is to be found in the waist and legs. First the mind is used to order the body. Follow the opponent and not your self (your own inclination). Later your body can follow your mind, and you can control your self and still follow the opponent. When you can follow your opponent, then your hands can distinguish and weigh accurately the amount of his force, and measure the distance of his approach with no mistake. Advancing and retreating, everywhere (the coordination) is perfect. After studying for a long time, your technique will become skillful.

Red.: from Five Character Secret (Calm, Agility, Breath – to gather the chi, The internal force – the complete chin, Spirit – Shen concentrated).

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: 52

Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures

by Wu Yu-hsiang (Wu Yuxian) (1812 – 1880)
sometimes attributed to Wang Chung-yueh
as researched by Lee N. Scheele

The hsin [mind-and-heart] mobilizes the ch’i [vital life energy].

Make the ch’i sink calmly;
then the ch’i gathers and permeates the bones.

The ch’i mobilizes the body.
Make it move smoothly, so that it may easily follows the hsin.

The I [mind-intention] and ch’i must interchange agilely,
then there is an excellence of roundness and smoothness.

This is called “the interplay of insubstantial and substantial.”

The hsin is the commander, the ch’i the flag, and the waist the banner.

The waist is like the axle and the ch’i is like the wheel. Continue reading “Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures”

Grasp Sparrows’s Tail is like two men sawing

This is the push-hands sequence of Wardoff, Rollback, Press and Push. The action is that of sawing. When you saw, the force at both sides should be equal; then the action is smooth. If one side tries to change the force, the saw’s teeth will bind. If my partner binds the saw, then even if I were to use force I would not be able to draw it back. Only if I push it will saw smoothly as before. This has two meanings for the push-hands of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. The first is to give up oneself to follow others. In following the opponent’s tendency you can learn the marvelous application of hua chin (neutralization) and tsou chin (yielding). Second, “If others move slightly, I move first.” This refers to the situation wherein my opponent uses force to push me and I obviate his attack by pulling back first. If the opponent uses pull I preclude this by pushing first.
The principle in the example of pulling the saw brings great clarity. Through it, I suddenly comprehended how to practice the idea, “if others move slightly, I move first.” If I am familiar with this, then the push-hands is controlled by me and not by my opponents. The rest is obvious.

( Red.: It’s said; “If the other does not move, I do not move. If the other has the slightest movement, I move ahead” proverb taken from the Taiji Classic “The understanding of the Thirteen Postures” )

Reference:
Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan
by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, Martin Inn
North Atlantic Books,U.S., May 1985
ISBN: 0938190458

Pages: 90-91