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Classic Energy Martial Art posture principle pushhands Structure taiji

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

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Anecdote Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle pushhands taiji

Yang Cheng Fu – The Story of a Cotton Thread

by Mei Ying Sheng Translated by Ted W. Knecht

In the year 1932, Master Yang Cheng Fu and his disciple, Fu Zhong Wen, traveled south to the city of Guang Zhou in Guang Dong Province to teach the art of Taijiquan. One day, a martial arts teacher by the name of Liu and his disciples went to the residence of Master Yang. Upon observing the way in which Liu was dressed and the manner in which he held himself, Master Yang knew that this man’s talents in fighting were extraordinary. Upon meeting Yang Cheng Fu, Liu raised his hands, saluted Master Yang and said: “It is well known that your skills in Taiji are superior and for three generations your family has been without equals. I have especially come here to see your skills.” Master Yang realized Liu was challenging him to a duel and that the conflict would be unavoidable. Master Yang suddenly thought of an idea to prevent a fight but to maintain the code of the martial world (Wu Lin). He told his disciple, Fu Zhong Wen, to go and get out a one foot piece of cotton thread.

Young Fu was shocked when he heard this because the cotton thread was used as a training tool only among the indoor disciples of the Yang style. It was never before shown to outsiders.

Master Yang warmed up by performing “Grasp Sparrow’s Tail” and “Cloud Hands”; thereupon, he took the cotton thread between his thumb and index finger and asked: “Who has the strength of a thousand pounds to tear this piece of thread in half?” Upon hearing this, Liu sneered at Master Yang while sending one of his disciples out to take the challenge. The disciple grabbed the other end of the cotton thread and asked: “When shall we begin?” Master Yang replied by saying: “It is completely up to you.” Following, the disciple fiercely pulled at the thread. Master Yang adhered to his every move. Suddenly the disciple reversed the direction of motion, however, Master Yang, without hesitation, also moved in the same manner.

This went on for several rounds without the disciple being able to tear the thread in two. While the thread was being pulled it remained straight no matter which direction the force was being applied. Liu saw what was occurring and summoned his disciple to step back. After Liu performed several exercises to warm up, he jumped into the air and performed several tornado kicks. Immediately following this, he jumped towards Master Yang as agile as a rabbit and grabbed the other end of the thread. Master Yang was just as agile and moved in the same manner. Without hesitation, Liu jumped back in a retreating maneuover while trying to break the thread; in the same instance, Master Yang followed in Liu’s footsteps preventing the thread from being broken. Afterwards, Liu shot forward as fast as an arrow, then darted to the left and then to the right, moving in all directions. Within all of this motion, both Liu and Master Yang never made contact with each other. The way in which the two moved was similar to a dragon lantern moving in the night. Spectators witnessing the event were astonished by the skill of Yang Cheng Fu. The entire time this was occurring the thread was never broken nor was it even bent. The thread remained straight during the entire match. After a long period of trying to break the thread, Liu was completely out of breath and covered with sweat. Master Yang, on the other hand, was very calm and relaxed without any signs of exhaustion. When the match was over, Liu realized that the skill level of Master Yang was very extraordinary and therefore held a grand banquent in honor of Master Yang. From that day forth, both Liu and Master Yang became very good friends.

In the same way as Master Yang’s grandfather and father did before him, Yang Cheng Fu had developed his skills of understanding energy (Dong Jin) and listening to energy (Ting Jin) to an outstanding skill level. He was able to adhere and yield to every single move his opponent performed and did not expend any energy. Even to this day, the story of how a piece of thread can demonstrate martial skills is told in the martial arts community near the Guang Zhou region. Yang Lu Chan was able to build upon the basics of Chen style old frame Taijiquan and make it more compatible for the common person to learn no matter what his age. At that moment, people termed his style “Yang family Taijiquan”. The Yang style passed through reform and constant improvement during the first two generations of father and son. The formal standardization of the style finally occurred when it came into Yang Cheng Fu’s hands. The postures became wide and comfortable; the structure was strict and demanding; the body was upright and erect; and the movements were harmoniously flowing, light, agile, and rooted.

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Classic Energy Martial Art Mindset principle pushhands taiji Waist

Chen Wei-Ming on Internal Power The Complete Chin

The chin of the (whole) body, through practice becomes one unit. Distinguish clearly between substantiel and insubstantiel. To fa chin (discharge) it is necessary to have root. The chin starts from the foot, is commanded by the waist, and manifested in the fingers, and discharges through the spine and back. One must completely raise the spirit (pay attention) at the moment when the opponents is just about to manifest, but has not yet been released. My chin has then already met his (chin), not late, not early. It is like using a leather (tinder) to start a fire, or like a fountain gushing forth. (In) going forward or stepping back, there is not even the slightes disorder. In the curve we seek the straight, store, then discharge; then you are able to follow your hands and achieve a beneficial result. This is called borrowing force to strike the opponent or using four onces to deflect a thousand pounds.

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: 54

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Breath Classic Energy principle pushhands taiji

Song of Application

Light, agile, and alive, seek Dong Jin (understanding Jin);
Yin and Yang cooperate mutually without the fault of stagnation;
If (you) acquire (the trick), four ounces neutralizes one thousand pounds;
Expand and close, stimulate the “drum,” the center will be steady.

“Alive” here means alert and active. In practice you must pay close attention to your partner. In time, you can interpret his intentions from the slightest of motions (i.e., understanding Jin). Where your parter is heavy your are light. When one part of you is light, another part of you is heavy. You and your partner continually follow one another, never resisting, never separating. In this way the motion will continue to flow. In time you will acquire the knack of being light enough to avoid your partner’s attack, and substantial and controlled enough to deflect or attack him. Your postures alternatively open and close with the circumstances. The drum is the abdomen, in the area of the Lower Dan Tian. You stimulate the Qi centered there with sound, attention, breathing and movement. This strengthens the Qi and exercises the control of it. When you attention and actions are thus centered on the Lower Dan Tian, your stance will be stable, and your mind calm and clear.

Reference: Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters Selected Readings with Commentary by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
ISBN: 188696971X

p. 73-74

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Breath Energy Martial Art principle pushhands taiji

Chen Wei-Ming on Breath To Gahter the Chi

If the chi is dispersed, then it is not stored (accumulated) and is easy to scatter. Let the chi penetrate the spine and the inhalation and exhalation be smooth and unimpeded throughout the entire body. The inhalation closes and gathers, the exhalation opens and discharges. Because the inhalation can naturally raise and also uproot the opponent, the exhalation can naturally sink down and also discharge (fa fang) him. This is by means of the i (mind), not the li (strength) mobilizing the chi (breath).

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: 53

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Martial Art Mindset principle pushhands taiji

The Ten Essentials of Taijiquan

Narrated by Yang Cheng Fu
Recorded by Chen Wei Ming

1. Straightening The Head

Stand straight and hold the head and neck naturally erect, with the mind concentrated on the top. Do not strain or be tense; otherwise, the blood and vital energy cannot circulate smoothly.

2. Correct Position Of Chest And Back

Keep the chest slightly inward, which will enable you to sink your breath to the dan tian (lower belly). Do not protrude your chest, otherwise you will feel uneasy in breathing and somewhat “top heavy”.

Great force can be launched onlly when you keep the vital energy in your lower belly.

3. Relaxation Of Waist

For the human body, the waist is the dominant part. When you relax the waist, your two feet will be strong enough to form a firm base. All the movements depend on the action of the waist, as the saying goes: “Vital force comes from the waist”. Inaccurate movements in taijiquan stem from erroneous actions of the waist.

4. Solid And Empty Stance

It is of primary importance in taijiquan to distinguish between “Xu” (Empty) and “Shi” (Solid). If you shift the weight of the body on to the right leg, then the right leg is solidly planted on the ground and the left leg is in an empty stance. When your weight is on the left leg, then the left leg is firmly planted on the ground and the right leg is in an empty stance. Only in this way can you turn and move your body adroitly and without effort, otherwise you will be slow and clumsy in your movements and not able to remain stable and firm on your feet.

5. Sinking Of Shoulders And Elbows

Keep your shoulder in a natural, relaxed position. If you lift your shoulders, the qi will rise with them and the whole body will be without strength. You should also keep the elbows down, otherwise you will not be able to keep your shoulders relaxed and move your body with ease.

6. Using The Mind Instead Of Force

Among the people who practise taijiquan, it is quite common to hear this comment: “That is entirely using the mind, not force”. In practising taijiquan, the whole body is relaxed, and there is not an iota of stiff or clumsy strength in the veins or joints to hinder the movement of the body. People may ask: How can one increase his strength without exercising force? According to taditional Chinese medicine, there is in the human body a system of pathways called jingluo (or meridian) which link the viscera with different parts of the body, making the human body an integrated whole. If the jingluo is not impeded, then the vital energy will circulate in the body unobstructed. But if the jingluo is filled with stiff strength, the vital energy will not be able to circulate and consequently the body cannot move with ease. One should therefore use the mind instead of force, so that vital energy will follow in the wake of the mind or conciousness and circulate all over the body. Through persistant practice one will be able to have genuine internal force. This is what taijiquan experts call “Lithe in appearance, but powerful in essence”.

A master of Taijiquan has arms which are as strong as steel rods wrapped in cotton with immense power concealed therein. Boxers of the “Outer School” (a branch of wush with emphasis on attack, as opposed to the “Inner School” which places the emphasis on defence) look powerful when they exert force but when they cease to do so, the power no longer exists. So it is merely a kind of superficial force.

7. Coordination Of Upper And Lower Parts

According to the theory of taijiquan, the root is in the feet, the force is launched through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the fingers; the feet, the legs and the waist form a harmonious whole. When the hands, the waist and the legs move, the eyes should follow their movements. This is meant by coordingation of the upper and lower parts. If any part should cease to move, then the movements will be disconnected and fall into disarray.

8. Harmony Between The Internal And External Parts

In practising taijiquan, the focus is on the mind and conciousness. Hence the saying: “The mind is the commander, the body is subservient to it”. With the tranquility of the mind, the movements will be gentle and graceful. As far as the “frame” is concerned, there are only the Xu (empty), shi (solid), kai (open) and he (close). Kai not only means opening the four lims but the mind as well, he means closing the mind along with the four limbs. Perfection is achieved when one unifies the two and harmonizes the internal and external parts into a complete whole.

9. Importance Of Continuity

In the case of the “Outer School” (which emphasizes attack) of boxing, the strength one exerts is still and the movements are not continuous, but are sometimes made off and on, which leaves opening the opponent may take advantage of. In taijiquan, one focuses the attention on the mind instead of force, and the movements from the begenning to the end are continuous and in an endless circle, just “like a river which flows on and on without end” or “like reeling the silk thread off cocoons”.

10. Tranquility In Movement

In the case of the “Outer School” of boxing, the emphasis is on leaping, bouncing, punching and the exertion of force, and so one often gasps for breath after practising. But in taijiquan, the movement is blended with tranquility, and while performing the movements, one maintains tranquility of mind. In practising the “frame”, the slower the movement the better the results. this is because when the movements are slow, one can take deep breath and sink it to the dan tian. It has a soothing effect on the body and the mind.

Learners of taijiquan will get a better understanding of all this through careful study and persistant practice.

Reference: “Yang Style Taijiquan” by Yang Zhen Duo (by courtesy of Peter Lim’s Taijiquan Resource Page www.itcca.it/peterlim/)

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Energy Martial Art posture principle pushhands Structure taiji Waist

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

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Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle pushhands qigong taiji

Master Huang’s 20 Important Points

Translated by Wee Kee-Jin

For the Taijiquan Form and Qi cultivation Master Huang Sheng-Shyan referred to 20 points:

1 Every muscle in the body has to be relaxed and loosened.

2 The body has to maintain an upright position without leaning or tilting.

3 Empty the chest, relax the shoulders and drop the elbows.

4 Tuck in the back and keep a light consciousness on the crown of the head.

5 Contract the anus, but ensure the buttocks are relaxed and hanging.

6 Bring the Spirit (mind awareness) within to cultivate the Qi. Avoid unnecessary movements in the three parts of the body: head, arms and torso.

7 Maintain an awareness of the three centres (centre of palms, tantien and bubbling well).

8 Use the mind, not brute force, to stay in your centre.

9 Calm the mind, relax the body and maintain an awareness of the body.

10 Initiate all the turning from the hips and waist.

11 When stepping forward or backward, the substantial and insubstantial feet must be clearly differentiated and firmly grounded.

12 The legs initiate the forward and backward movement.

13 In calmness there is movement and in movement there is sinking.

14 Upper and lower body must synchronise harmoniously, without dispersed movements.

15 Relax the neck, sink the shoulders and drop the elbows.

16 Three things that should never be locked straight in the form; the body; the arms; the legs.

17 Maintain continuity without any breaks, internal and external in harmony.

18 The hands move like reeling silk from a cocoon and the feet move like a cat in motion.

19 Have faith, modesty and perseverance and success will prevail.

20 Fully understand the Taiji Form and the applications will be natural.

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

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Martial Art principle pushhands taiji

Practising the Classics

by Wee Kee-Jin

In Taijiquan, we must know the direction we want to head in, then focus on the process not the result. Practising the right process will take you to where you want to go. Even knowing and preaching the Taijiquan ‘classics’ will not amount to anything, if you don’t practise it.

Structure
The ‘classics’ state that; the body has to be upright as if the head is suspended from above; the hips have to be relaxed and seated into their sockets; the chest should be hollowed; shoulders relaxed and elbows dropped. These requirements combined create the taiji ‘structure’.

However if all the attention in placed on the structure without having an awareness of the processes and details in the movements, the structure will be empty and without substance.

Substance
To develop substance we must learn the sequence of how the body moves in the taiji way. Any raising or lowering always having always originated from the feet, before passing through the ankles, knees, hips (kua) body torso, to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, palms and then fingers. All turning is motivated by the hips turning the waist, body trunk, arms then hands. Both the ‘opening’ and ‘closing’, stem from the ‘centre’. Expanding outwards from the ‘centre’ produces the ‘opening’ and contracting inwards from the ‘centre’ produces the ‘closing’. Similar to how an umbrella is opened and closed. A balloon inflates from air being blown into the centre expanding it outward, and deflates when the air is allowed to escape from the centre.

Most taiji practitioners sequence their leg movements (feet, ankles, knees then hips), and arms (shoulders, elbows, wrists, palms then fingers), but neglect the changes through the body trunk. The legs and arms may be co-ordinated, but are unconnected and therefore moving independently. The ‘classics’ state that when one part of the body moves every part of the body moves, when one part changes – every part changes along with it, and when one part arrives – every part arrives together. Therefore every movement originating in the legs must ripple through the body to produce the movement in the arms.

This releasing of the body trunk is produced by mind awareness visualising a melting sensation as it travels through the body muscles. Only then will the movements of the legs be connected to the arms and the whole body change as one.

Synchronization
Once the sequence of movement is established and connected, the sequence should be timed to synchronize the whole body. If we divide the body into three groups of parts; base (from the feet, ankles, knees to the hips); body trunk (abdomen, chest, spine and shoulder blades); and arms (shoulders, elbows, wrists to the hands and fingers), the changes must be timed to be in relation with each other. So if the base has released 10%, the body trunk should have released by 10% and the arms also 10%. 10% in the base but only 5% in the body trunk and 20% in the arms means that there is a disconnection between the base and body trunk, and you are holding yourself up, and the arms are collapsing into the body.

Continuous Sinking
Throughout the Taiji ‘form’ from the beginning to the end, the whole body is continuously changing and synchronizing, and the mind is initiating wave after wave of sinking. Master Huang maintained that sinking is the main theme of the ‘form’, and Taiji is all about changes. Sinking throughout the ‘form’, not only ensures that we are stable and grounded, it produces a continuous supply of ‘relaxed force’ (jing). To cultivate sinking we initially work it in three stages as follows;
1) When moving the insubstantial foot (e.g. stepping), we send the mind awareness through the body visualising a melting sensation, into the ground under the substantial foot.
2) During the transition (e.g. adjusting the substantial foot and turning the body) we send another wave of awareness and melting visualisation from the crown of the head, through the body into the ground beneath both feet.
3) When issuing the ‘relaxed force’ (fa-jing) from the feet, through the legs, body arms, palms to the finger tips, we visualise the melting sensation as the awareness passes through the body.
Eventually these stages must be combined into one continuous sink.

The Form
The ‘form’ is the foundation of Taiji. Whatever process happens in the ‘form’ will translate into the fixed ‘pushing-hands’ and ‘free-pushing’. We should therefore work on the same things in each. If we were to practise one way in the form, another way during fixed ‘pushing-hands’ and something different for ‘free-pushing’, it is like leaning the English words, using a German sentence structure (or grammar) and writing an essay in the Chinese direction (top to bottom left to right).

Pushing Hands
‘Pushing-hands’ is not just being able to neutralise an incoming force, or being able to stick to your opponent and follow his or her changes. When we are neutralising and the opponent is still grounded he or she can still come in from another direction. When we are advancing although we may be sticking, he or she can still change if they are connected to their base. Both in neutralising and sticking we must take them out of alignment so that they become immediately disconnected. Without a base they will have to rely on you to keep their balance so that effectively you become their centre. Being able to disconnect a partner from their base and use a ‘relaxed-force’ to uproot and throw them is a good level, but the ultimate is not to have to use any of your own force, rather absorbing the force of your partner and returning it to them. A public company operates and grows using the funds from shareholders not their own money.

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

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Martial Art principle pushhands taiji

Important Points for Progress in Taijiquan

by Wee Kee-Jin

Master Huang was a renowned practitioner, but it was as a teacher that he most stood out. He developed exercises and a systemised training method that recognised the stages of a student’s development.

Physical Mechanisms
When learning Taijiquan we all start with poor posture and awkward actions. So we need to work with big loose movements to free up locked joints and accumulated tensions, with particular attention on uprightness and an awareness of the feet to cultivate greater stability. Initially the body moves as one block, but as the joints and muscles loosen we start to turn from the hips, to lead the waist, to lead the body, to lead the arms. The raising of the arms, instead of lifting, gets motivated from a force below and expressed by the relaxation of the body’s trunk, shoulders and elbows. Then every movement in the upper body becomes a product of the changes from below.

From the beginning the importance of the structure must be emphasised. This is the accuracy and alignment both in posture and later during the transitions, and provides the pathways for the energies to pass through. Like the hose, where either kinking or squeezing can stop the water flowing, in the body locked joints and muscular tension will restrict the energy’s path.

Focusing on the Qi or Yi before the structure is established is of little use, like generating electricity without having the wires to transmit it. Meditation and Qigong also works on the Yi and Qi but without the Pushing hands they do not provide the method to deliver a relaxed force.

Accuracy is not just the details of the positions (the where), or the sequence (the when), but more importantly the process of how you move. Inaccuracies may be made obvious to you in Pushing-hands, but it is in the Form that you train them. If you can’t maintain your alignment when there is no external force affecting you, then it must be impossible if there is.

Alignment refers to a state of central equilibrium, that is being upright and centred both horizontally and vertically. When moving, both left and right need to change evenly, so both knees, hips and shoulders should drop at the same rate, not one side faster than the other.

If students only work on being loose, relaxed and sensitive then their Form will not be grounded (floating Form) and during Pushing-hands they not have a relaxed-force to issue. Even their sticking will only be at a surface level. Therefore you need to include sinking in the Form.

Song is an external and internal process – physically relaxing, and mentally sinking. The relaxation is a physical mechanism involving the releasing of the joints from the feet up. To connect with the ground you must relax the feet and ankles, give at the knees by dropping the hips into their sockets. This will create the space for the body to fall into. The shoulders can then drop closely followed by the lowering of the elbows and wrists. The base, upper body and arm relaxation should happen almost simultaneously to avoid holding-up the sinking.

Internal Mechanisms
All internal mechanisms in Taiji must be cultivated using the Mind (Yi), which consists of two parts – intention and awareness.
When you intend to move you first think of it, then the body acts, in a way that you need to be aware of, otherwise you will not understand the process or the changes. So in every movement you must have the intention first, closely followed by your awareness.

Thinking is only planning. It is the awareness that you use to cultivate the relaxation, the sinking and the rebounding forces – visualise them, and move your awareness to experience them. Initially they may not physically occur in a way that is obvious, but after prolonged practice they will happen as you have visualised.
The Yi directs the Qi, so wherever the awareness is, the energy will be there. Focusing on the Qi itself can actually block, or stagnate it. The flow of the Qi is a product of your directed awareness

Sinking is the continuous flow of sensation from the crown down. To first train we release (as described above) then visualise a cup of warm water being poured at the crown of the head, draining down the body and the legs with a melting feeling, through the feet and into the ground.

In the first stage of training with sinking in the Form, the student learns to sink into posture by getting into position then allowing the sensation to complete, before issuing and moving into the next posture.

After a year or so of sinking into every posture, sinking during transition is introduced. Here the process starts at the moment the insubstantial foot begins to move, whereby the student sinks into the substantial foot and continues uninterrupted by the adjustment of the foot, the turning of the hips, the transfer of weight, and even during the releasing of the force (issuing).

The result of relaxing and sinking is a noticeable increase of pressure in the feet. This is termed grounding, or taking root. It is important to remember that the calmness produces the relaxation, the relaxation produces the sinking, the sinking produces the grounding, the grounding produces the rebounding force. Therefore Jing is a product of Song, and continuous sinking will supply a continuous force.

Pushing-Hands
Tui Shou, is just an extension of the Form. The only difference is an external force motivates your movements. You should move in the same way, with the same awareness as you do in the Form and whatever you are working on in the Form you need to include your Pushing-hands.

Yielding is not to retreat from the force. Nor is to take root to stand against it. To move a moment ahead of a force, is pulling away or disconnecting. To move a moment after, is to resist. It is the fly alighting that sets you in motion, not because the fly lands that you move away. It is the incoming force that creates the movement in you. When you push into a sponge, it isn’t trying to move away from you, it just absorbs your force. When you force is exhausted, the sponge follows you back. This is sticking.

In Taiji Sticking is following someone else’s centre, being connected from your own root through and into another persons, so that two can move as one. It requires listening, sinking, opening, closing and harmonious movements. The process of emptying an incoming force into the ground, and sticking to the base of your partner, requires the same mechanisms as used to sink in the Form.

Therefore if someone has not trained the sinking, they could be able to yield and extend a force to weaken it, but an amount of it will still be on them. What’s more they will only be able to stick to the surface of the opponent and not contact into their root.
Neutralising is redirecting an incoming force and later the ability to empty it completely from the body into then ground. With good alignment the first direction learnt for neutralising is horizontal, pivoting about the spinal axis. When opening, closing and sinking can be incorporated, the neutralising also becomes vertical and internal, enabling the incoming forces to be intercepted, and rebound back into your partner.

Closing and opening refers to the space between your hands, arms and body. Letting go from the centre is closing; opening is expanding from the centre. The movement of the outside is a product of the changes inside. Closing needs space to take place, which is what the sinking provides.

Speed and timing must be in relation to one another. If your turn a watch, although the winder turns a gear, and that turns another wheel and so on until the hands move, they all seem to turn together. No wheel turns any faster than the one driving it, they all move at exactly the same speed and at the same time.
Although you turn from your hips, the linking together results in your body parts arriving at different destinations simultaneously.
In Pushing-hands, even with good listening skills and sensitivity, inaccuracies or poor synchronisation will either leave a gap for someone else to come in, or you’ll get stuck by locking yourself up.

Synchronising the changes throughout the Form is an important step in developing your Taiji. This is the natural timing that results when relaxation motivates your movement, sinking and issuing originates from the root below and closing and opening is from the centre within.

When letting the air out of a balloon, all sides contract together and at the same rate. This emptying is even and is called balance which should be within every closing and opening, that is – throughout the whole Form and Pushing-hands. If you are in balance then like a set of scales, the slightest pressure sets you in motion, providing the structure is in place.

Before issuing there is always a point of breaking the root of your partner, which can begin the moment you stick. When developing the ability to issue, the student needs to wait for the sinking to be complete before allowing the force to – bounce back from the root, magnifying it in the legs, directing it with the hips, and passing it through the body and arms to the fingertips (or any other point of contact).

Initially the release of force is triggered by a small push of the substantial foot into the ground. But later this becomes unnecessary as 1% relaxation becomes 1% of sinking, which is 1% of grounding which equals 1% of force. Just as in a spring, where as soon you push against it, a force returns towards you. Remembering that the efficiency of a spring is dependant upon its structure – if too rigid there won’t be any compression, too soft and it will collapse, poor alignment and it will buckle.

The quality of a push is much more important than the quantity of how far that you throw someone. With a good clean push, both of their feet will leave the ground, rather than them just staggering backwards. The power comes from the energies not physical strength so the experience of being issued upon should be light and comfortable not brutal or forceful. If everything is in place from structure through to timing you may be made to fly, but even that is not the point.

Taiji is a process not a result. Exercises, Forms and Pushing-hands are methods for exploring the Principles within all movements. To improve we only need to refine our movements and deepen our understanding of the Principles. However this is an ongoing, continuous process. Ultimately the Form becomes formless, and every action or non-action is in harmony – that is Taijiquan.

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

Categories
Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle pushhands taiji

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/

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Event pushhands taiji Workshop

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)

Categories
aikido Energy Martial Art Mindset Philosophy pushhands

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

Categories
Martial Art Mindset Philosophy principle pushhands Structure taiji

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

Categories
Martial Art posture principle pushhands Structure taiji

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