Qi Experience

Postby psalchemist » Tue Nov 18, 2003 4:30 am

Greetings DavidJ,

You mentioned the trigrams of the I-Ching in your post above...

I am attempting to correllate the I-Ching and Taijiquan and so would like to ask a few questions.

Do you find the I-Ching to be assistful in developping Taijiquan skills directly?

On a theoretical level I understand that both are based on the trigrams...The I Ching using duos of combined trigrams, Taijiquan using them independantly, also as descriptions of movement. They are interesting to compare. Insights can be drawn...

Do you believe ALL patterns of movement energy are limited to the combinations of sixty four hexagrams presented?

How can we compare the single trigrams of the Bagua in Taijiquan with the doubled trigrams of the I-Ching?

Also, thanks for describing the requirements for Masters of Tung? style Taijiquan.
This is very encouraging to me considering my overall interest in those aspects. Very motivating indeed Image

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-17-2003).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue Nov 18, 2003 7:53 pm

Greetings,

Audi wrote: “I, personally, do not care for definitions of Taijiquan that describe it as an art based on knowledge or manipulation of Qi or Qi meridians.”

David responded: “I'm really curious how gathering the Chi in the dan tien and expressing it doesn't include knowledge or manipulation of Chi.” And, “You should know that in my lineage it is traditional for a Tai Chi Master to be an acupuncturist.”

I’m somewhere in between on these issues. I think that the role of meridian theory can be overblown with regard to taijiquan. (And, by the way, I have similar reservations about how seriously to take Yijing correlations in the art.) If learning about these traditions will enhance one’s appreciation for the art and its cultural context, that’s a good thing. When it takes on the aura of proprietary esoteric knowledge, I think it just tends to make the art incomprehensible and overly mystified.

Still, I think that there is an experiential aspect of qi that can effectively transform the way one approaches taijiquan, and culturally may signal a viable alternative to the way modern Westerners think about how their body/minds behave. As David indicates, meridian theory and the notion of qi circulation are evidenced in the taiji classics. Yang Chengfu’s Ten Essentials make reference to these ideas.

Where I may begin to part company with David’s position is over precisely what “manipulation” may mean. I think a case can be made that some of the taijiquan classics advise against “manipulation” of qi. Rather, the message seems to be that if one performs the postures correctly, qi will take care of itself. There are numerous other traditional Chinese practice regimens that do in fact prescribe focus upon and manipulation of qi through various movement and breathing techniques, but in my opinion taijiquan is qualitatively different in its approach.

By the way, in the seventies I studied with Master Gate Chan, who was a Chinese medicine practitioner as well as a martial artist. He expected us to understand the basic premises of meridian theory, and trained us in point pressure and moxibustion therapies. I still have the mimeographed pages he prepared for us, with the typed names, locations, and diagnostics of the acupuncture points and meridians, and his handwritten characters of the names. (Remember typewriters and mimeograph machines?) This course of study, I think, traditionally has to do with being a well-rounded artist, and with having the capacity to heal as well as do harm. I question, though, how profitable it is to pursue things like visualization of meridians in form practice, or to what degree that reflects traditional taijiquan theory.

Ultimately, the differences of opinion we’re seeing over these issues probably point to larger issues of cultural dissonance and the murky interface of tradition and modernity. So the bottom line is probably that keeping an open mind is the best policy.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby DavidJ » Wed Nov 19, 2003 12:39 am

Greetings Louis and Audi,

A bit of clarification.

I debated using the word "manipulation" because of its oft-used context implying artificiality. I thought Audi meant deliberately doing something that is known to move chi around, so I decided to stick with his wording. Since TCC itself fits that definition...

I know that the form, done correctly, will generate and circulate chi. In addition, it works the other way around, using chi correctly can generate better form.

If various gongs can help me be more sensitive to chi, why should I turn my back on more knowledge, especially when it is useful to me?

I hope this is clearer.

Regards,

David J
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Postby Michael » Wed Nov 19, 2003 7:12 am

Hello,

I just came back in time for some interesting talk.

As you are all aware, I do my thinking with my body when it comes to these issues, so...

I think the advice of not concentrating on the "chi", but letting it take care of itself is good advice. I think that this thought comes from seeing that those with an impressionable mind, or because of desire, can create a feeling that is not "real". I am not saying this of anyone here, but this type of problem exists with many people. If I describe the "feeling of chi" to someone, if they have a strong mind they can soon create that feeling for themselves. This will interfere. For some others, "chi" can become a distraction/obsession.

I cannot really comment on "manipulation" of chi in taiji. I find it really is not neccesary for me. I suppose I could, but it seems to take care of itself. This is not to say that you cannot, or should not. If I know what the opponent is up to---and can respond appropriately, do I need to "add on" with more chi, or more li?

Does not my structure, and my "loosened" musculature allow for the "sinking of chi"? I do not want to use the mind for anything but recognition of the opponents movements.

Now, if I was doing certain qigongs I might be very involved in "manipulation". I have since gone to the type where it happens on it's own. I prefer it that way. I suppose it is a matter of "taste" and what one is looking for. I like simple and direct. The less I have to rely on "thinking" the less chance I have to screw it up. But that is just me.

David,

What works for you is what you should do. I am not sure that concentrating on chi will make my set better. As you can tell from above, I go from the other direction. It has been years since I tried doing it the other way around. I'll have to try it just to see.


my best


[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-19-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Nov 19, 2003 10:56 am

Greetings All,

I think, that perhaps, when we discuss matters such as 'loci circles' and 'yi on qi' we are experiencing 'different level' misunderstandings....

I now consider both these 'methods' as simple transitions for experience, as temporary tools to develop aspects in Taijiquan which are very important at a certain point but which will be abandoned later in a higher level.

Embrace then renounce.

Foundation work.

I believe one should at least have an idea of what is actually occurring within one's body throughout the movement, hence my interest in qi and meridians. However, I am not considering this to be a permanent aspect to be focussed on through all levels.

I am now considering both as stepping stones towards improving the 'final results'...

A means to an end.

Part of the process.

The health and healing aspects encompassed within should, in reality be more USEFUL to me than the martial aspects, if I consider how often I will actually engage in 'self-defense' in my lifetime as opposed to how often I will need to repair the damage I've inflicted on my own body myself.

Harm and Heal do indeed seem to walk hand in hand...Taijiquan's connection with health and longevity, as well as martial application for self defense, leads me to this interest.

I must be physically healthy and well for my body to be efficient and effective in the martial application.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-19-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Nov 19, 2003 12:12 pm

Greetings Michael,

Just a few non-expert comments and speculations on the concept of placebos ('sugar' pills)...

Also, how the mind can control the body and it's 'functions' (whether we are aware of the functionning or not...consciously or subconsciously).

I believe that 'awareness' itself of the 'functionning' may bring helpful insight into it's actual purpose.

(If we had never dissected the body, we would not have the knowledge that we actually have a heart, what it looks like, how it works, etc...etc...etc. Some would be aware of a mysterious pounding feeling within the chest, sometimes, elusive and others would say..."That's crazy!"-I've never felt that!
Also, we would certainly not be performing 'open heart' surgery nor would we be 'transplanting' hearts as we do almost casually today.)

( The earth WAS flat before it was round Image )

(Qi, on the other hand, or meridians...I'm not sure if they can be seen and dissected or not...which makes the issue much more difficult than the one of the heart. We must then rely on sensation and results from experimentations...which may always be argued over.

Can anyone say whether or not channels and vessels possess actual corporal qualities...can we see them? etc...
I know that some of the points are quite visible as "indentations" on the surface of the body...but not mush more than that.

1)A placebo which 'cures' a non-existant disease is one matter. The mind created a disturbance, and therefore can 'cure' it...purely psychological.

while,

2)A placebo which cures a real disease is far SUPERIOR to any external medications which could be employed by a doctor. The mind can actually restore its naturally healthy state, without exterior assistance.

In either cases the 'problem'/problem is resolved through the minds inherent control over the body.

Placebos can be very important and effective tools depending on the 'strength of the individuals mind'.

Some will only imagine the channels and the qi, while others will actually feel them and perhaps develop a greater sense of what is occurring within the body.

3)For some others placebo's are uneffective in any manner...Medication is required. The mind cannot cure the body from lack of will?, strength?, lack of belief that it can be done?(a certain type of interference).

4)Some others still may not even respond well to proven medications which work for everyone...Strong will to be ill?

It is all in one's mind...one's attitudes and aptitudes.

The 'spirit' of the 'commander'.

It is difficult to say what will work for whom...we are all differently inclined.


Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image


[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-19-2003).]

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-19-2003).]

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-19-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Wed Nov 19, 2003 1:54 pm

One last comment...everyone seems to agree that study in Taijiquan is based on one's purpose for learning it...

Some people wish to focus on the martial and self defense aspects.

Others wish to acheive and maintain health, well-being, and longevity.

Yet others, dare I say most, wish to gain a bit of both.

Taijiquan is vast in it's scope and levels of understanding.

It is certainly a fascinating and useful study for anyone, regardless of particular or individual purpose.

Movement arts, meditation arts, martial art, medical art, mental development art, etc....
MARVELLOUS ART!

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Michael » Thu Nov 20, 2003 2:56 am

psalchemist,

Just wondering if you are comparing or associating your placebo effect with my focusing on the false---what one thinks is chi flow but is not? Am I reading this correctly? These are very different. The substitution of the false for the real can often keep one from really being aware of the flow in the body. As for meridians...can't say. And I am not talking about TCM, only the taiji aspects.

"Imagination" is a very useful tool in various types of meditation. It helps break down certain barriers within that system. In other systems "imagination" is a hinderance. The "flavor" that I just happen to like is--no substitutes.

I have nothing against observation of the the flow in the body. I am just not big on "playing" with it that much. And I do not tell anyone to do, or not to do anything. I am just relating my taiji experience. That is all I can do.

it's all only opinion.....

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 11-19-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 20, 2003 4:59 pm

In the spirit of ANCIENT SYSTEMS in correlation to Taijiquan:

<Records exist indicating that as far back as the eighth century a martial art similar to Tai Chi was practised in China. It was developed by Hu Xuan Ming who was from An Huei province and lived on Tse Yang Mountain. His system was called " Three Generations and Seven"; it was an internal style with many similar techniques and ideas to Tai Chi.

<Around this time another Tai Chi like system called "Hsien Tien Chuan" was created by Li Tao Tze, but little is known about its form and content.

<In the tenth century, Liang Kon Yu created the "Nine little heavens" system which is very similar to Tai Chi.

<These are a few of the documented examples which show us that styles similar to Tai Chi have been around for over a thousand years

Quotations drawn from the book "Principles of Tai Chi" by Paul Brecher


I am curious as to a name translation for "Hsien Tien Chuan", is anyone familiar with this phrase?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 20, 2003 5:17 pm

Here are some thoughts on Qi, derived from the same source as used above"The Principles of Tai Chi" :

*Tai Chi heals the body by encouraging Chi(life force) to flow through the acupuncture meridians. The acupuncture meridians run through the entire body, connecting every part.

*They are different from the nerves blood and lymphatic vessels, but they influence these and other body systems because they run through them all.

*In a 1991 report by The World Health Organization (WHO), over 400 acupoints and 20 meridians(12,8) are discussed.

*In the same year, western scientists verified the existance of the meridians by using a -Superconducting Quantum Interference Device(SQuID)- to map the lines of the force feilds of electromagnetic energy generated by the human body. They were found to correspond exactly with the acupuncture meridians documented by the Chinese over two and a half thousand years ago.

*Each TaiChi move slightly flexes a tendon, which encourages Chi to flow along the associated acupuncture meridian. The organs through which that meridian passes are energized and strengthened.

*Muscles are relaxed during Tai Chi, so the flow of blood and Chi is not restricted. Where Chi goes, blood follows, so by increasing the Chi flow you boost the circulation of blood.
[I note the possibility of confounding intense blood flow which accompanies the qi, for qi itself]

Just some points to ponder...

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 20, 2003 5:32 pm

I would like to explore, at least superficially the subject of Tan Tiens...

I have heard there are three points entitled as such...

1)The lower-below navel
2)The middle-solar plexus
3)The upper-between the eyebrows

Concentrating on the lower Tantien helps to achieve and maintain a low centre of gravity, mental balance, and stability.

I am unaware of the applications of the other two points and was hoping someone could please explain the purposes of these middle and upper Tan Tien points.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-20-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Thu Nov 20, 2003 6:06 pm

I have found a funny twist to add to the mix of placebo's, mind intention and Taijiquan.

Also from "Principles of Tai Chi", by Paul Brecher...

<If while practising solo forms, you imagine their self defense applications, more energy is released because the body thinks it has more work to do. This increases energy circulation and reinforces the body's resistance. If when training the aim is to defeat your opponent, your body will apply this intention on all levels; it will also defeat harmful viruses and bacteria.>


Comments?

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby keechy » Fri Nov 21, 2003 4:26 am

Hi All,

I'd like to post an update of my qigong practice here. It has been an exciting time for me, not without some frustrations though, in trying to understand what is going on. My focus here is on how I understand qi sensation up till now. Since this is quite new to me, what I say is solely from what I've experienced, right or wrong. But what I'm writing here is also supported from what I've learnt from various sources. And since there is also an ongoing discussion about the relevance of sensing qi flow in Tai Chi, I thought what I'll write here may be of some interest.

This is what I believe to be the stages of development in qi sensation (specific to my practice which is qigong meditation). In my practice, the focus is mainly to clear the governing and conception meridians that is the basis of microcosmic orbit. Although it is a sitting meditation, there are movements involved – mainly a rhythmic to and fro rocking motion of the head (and body). The stages are:

Stage 0 - mild guiding force (mild movement)
Stage 1 – guiding force and hot, electric current flow through meridians (strong movement)
Stage 2 - strong guiding force with sensation of current flow (mild movement)
Stage 3 - feeling of an empty and strong guiding force (mild to no movement)

Presently, I'm in stage 2. Firstly, I ask myself often - Is what I'm feeling due to my own imagination? Did I intentionally move my body? I suppose I have no real answers to that. But what I can say is that the guiding force appears real because I would not have been able to sit there for half an hour or more, moving rhythmically to and fro, without falling asleep. Another related observation (for men only) is that such a guiding force is diminished greatly when practiced after ejaculation (release of jing). For at these moments of practice, there is no urge to continue after a while because there is no qi sensation and the motion became meaningless and boring after a while. This, I believe, is the strongest reason why I believe that the guiding movement is not due to imagination. Secondly, there is a feel good factor after each practice. When it feels good, I suppose it is good.

The transition in each stage, I believe, can be explained if we treat qi as electromagnetic in nature. Our body has resistance (electrical). Qi flow in the body induces an electric current that flows along the meridians. If the meridians are blocked, the resistance to the current is high. Hence, heat is dissipated. With more practice, the meridians clear and hence, resistance is lowered. And the heat dissipated is reduced to a point where the body resistance is very small. At this point, a "clear & empty" guiding force will flow freely through the body. I am looking forward to this stage.

As regards to Tai Chi, I believe that the foundation from which Tai Chi was invented is in making use of qi. For it is qi that delivers the power, among other things. Whereas Tai Chi Chi Kung focuses on healing, Yang Tai Chi Chuan is more a martial art. But both are regarded as moving meditations.
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Postby keechy » Fri Nov 21, 2003 5:32 am

I would also like to add that there are two schools of thought regarding "feeling the qi", be it Tai Chi or qigong. The first requires one to practice and visualize qi flow. The other school of thought de-emphasizes the visualization part and let the qi flow to wherever it wants.

This also applies to breathing in Tai Chi. Some practitioners believes that breathing and movement is important and some, not. But I believe breathing is central to Tai Chi Chi Kung as it is to synchronize with qi flow.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Nov 21, 2003 8:23 pm

Greetings all,

In working towards clarifying Qigong, Taijiquan differentiations, qi for healing in comparison with qi for purposes of generating power for internal martial arts, towards understanding the internal mechanices of both, I deliver this information for purposes of scrutiny and questionning.

I am in the beginning stages of the learning process, and so might go awry , occassionally Image , with the logic involved.

All comments to seek out the truth of the matter encouraged and most welcome.

Here are some "Taijiquan posture rules", coinciding with health benefits, and meridians, hence qi, involvement...

These have been drawn mostly from the book "The principles of Tai Chi" by Paul Brecher, (endorsed by Earle Montaigue, origins of some quotes said to be derived from "Awakening the Tao" by Liu I-Ming) quoted or paraphrased for summarization purposes and peppered with personal commentary and questions concerning these points.

-Feet grip(claw) ground
-Bend knees
-Spine is straight and stretched
-Tongue on the roof of mouth
-Shoulders relaxed and down
-Elbows lower than shoulders
-Armpits have a space under them
-Arms maintain circular shape
-Hands slightly flexed and concave

Do these ring correct and sound, based on your experience in Taijiquan?

Here are some brief explanations and correlations to bind these various topics together:

Claw the ground
---------------
Taijiquan orientation: Clawing the ground assists in the developping of the skill and the acheivement of 'rooting'.

For health and healing, perhaps Qigong, as well as Taijiquan, this action uses the healing powers derived from the connection of the feet with the earth, through the associated meridian.

The meridian association is through the K1 point of the kidney channel( on the bottom of the foot), which taps into the healing energy from the earth and helps create an efficient 'rooting' through the feet.
How?
"By curling the toes under, you create a slight flex in the tendons. The meridians correspond to the tendons, so the flex draws the qi down them to the toes."

Is clawing the ground standard Taijiquan practice (among practitioners in general) towards encouaging grounding?

Does anyone employ other methods in conjunction with or independantly from 'sinking' or 'clawing' to establish 'rooting'?

Bending the knees
-----------------
"Whether you practice Tai Chi in a low or high stance, always keep the knees slightly bent, as though you are about to sit down"

Taijiquan utility: This develops internal power of the legs and improves stability by lowering the centre of gravity (activated by the lower Tan Tian).

Health benefits: If your legs are strengthened, you can continue to be active into old age.

How do meridians contribute?:
"This lowered position creates a slight flex in the leg tendons, which draws Chi down the corresponding meridians ensuring a strong circulation of chi, blood and nutrients to the legs.

To my knowledge this is standard fare for Taijiquan.

I think the 'bobbing' thread is discussing the particular details presently Image
Does anyone have more to say about knee posture?

Spine straight and stretched
----------------------------
The text states:
"If the spine is straight and stretched while you perform the rotating, spiralling movements of Tai Chi, its flexibility is increased.

The flow of spinal fluid and function of the spinal nerves are unhindered and Chi can ascend up the centre of the spine, through the Governing vessel to the head."

Is the power for martial arts in this case generated by the overall improved efficiency of the body's functionning?

I had read somewhere that power was generated through the rotations of the waist, but cannot recall precisely where...also, perhaps it was a curved expression...

Louis, and all, have you any knowledge of this unremembered quotation I mention?
If so, is there a 'curve' visible?
You are very good at seeking, detecting, and interpreting "curves"...
Have you any comments to contribute?

As for health benefits, "Straightening the spine stops the edges of the vertebrae from damaging the discs."

Tongue on roof of mouth
-----------------------
"Put the tongue on the roof of the mouth at the front, just like when you say the letter L. Keep the tongue in this position while you practise Tai Chi forms, most Qigong, and meditation.

It allows the Chi which has risen up the Governing vessel and over the top of the head, to connect with the Conception vessel and descend down the front of the body into the belly (Tan Tian). This circulation of energy is commonly known as the "Small circulation of Qi", and with each Tai Chi move, the enrgy completes one orbit."

"If your tongue is not connected with the roof of the mouth, energy accumulates in the head instead of travelling down to the belly. It is important to never leave excess energy in the head, beacause the hard bone of the skull cannot expand to take the pressure. Trapped Chi causes headaches and excessive mental activity."

This I know to be true from experience. In personal experimentation, without proper tongue placement, I would be stricken by extreme and devastating pressure in the head...headaches of grandiose proportion...So, I believe that this is an important point to retain.

"Neither should excess Chi be left in the chest, because the ribcage cannot expand enough, and it will cause discomfort"

"Only by bringing the Chi down to the belly (Tan Tian) can you be balanced and stable.

The belly is soft and can expand to accomodate the excess Chi: this is the safest place to store Chi"

Louis, I also heard something about "storing the Chi in the curve of the spine"...is this only a temporary state in transition towards expression? Or is this yet another curved expression?

Also,
"The only times the tongue does not touch the roof are during Fa Jin explosive moves with a shout."

Is Chen style the only family to use Fa jin techniques in their forms?

The next four points are rather straight forward and well accepted ideas in Taijiquan, I believe, but comments always welcome.

The shoulders are relaxed and down
----------------------------------
"Allow your shoulders to relax and sink down, slightly forward. This stops the shoulders, neck and upper body from storing mental and physical tension, and allows chi to sink into the belly "(Tan Tian)

The elbows are lower than the shoulders
---------------------------------------
"If your elbows are below shoulder level, it is easier for the shoulders to remain relaxed and down...This helps the chi to sink from the head and chest into the belly to giva a lower centre of gravity."

The armpits have a space under them.
------------------------------------
"You should always have a space under the armpits about the size of a fist, so that energy can flow freely through the shoulder joints and down the arms."

"If the undersides of the arms are touching the torso, the shoulder joint is closed and the chi flow to the hands is reduced."

The arms maintain a circular shape
-----------------------------------
"Extending the arms in front of the body, but don't quite lock the elbows. They should not be too bent, however, because this reduces the chi flow, in the same way that bending a hosepipe stops the water from flowing. Stretch the arms forward until you feel them connected across the upper back and they form, horizontally, the shape of an archers bow, or a horseshoe...similar to hugging a tree."

Are these issues generally agreed upon by all practitioners?


The hands are slightly flexed and Concave
-----------------------------------------
Flexing the hands slightly "draws the chi down the meridians that correspond to the tendons, so you feel a fullness in the fingertips."

Chi, or heavy bloodflow to the fingertips, or both?

"The fingers should not touch each other. The hands are concave so you can hold the chi in your palm."

On the meridian front, "This poosture activates the 8th point on the Pericardium meridian, which is used to emit chi for both the martial and healing arts of Taijiquan"

I note here the use of the expression "emit chi", is used in conjunction with healing arts, it's existance makes alot of sense in this context.

The martial reason for having the fingers flexed and extended is that "they develop great strength with the increased chi flow; eventually, they become like steel daggers and can be used to stab an opponent"

A healthand healing reason for this: "Powerful hand and fingers capable of of emitting a concentrated flow of chi also increases the healing effects of an acupressure massage"

"Hold the thumb away from the other fingers"
creating a Tiger's mouth
"This activates the fourth point on the large intestine meridian (LI-4), which helps bring chi from the belly and the lungs into the hands."

Audi, I can see some correlation between Tigers Mouth and the angle I mentioned in another post, albeit a little abstract. Have you heard of this chi tendancy before?

To close,
I can see how Qi, meridians and vessels play integrated roles in Taijiquan martial, health and healing practises.

Not necessariliy something to consider while practising the form perhaps , but certainlyexcellent food for thought afterwards.

Yi is a separate issue for me presently.

But I am quite convinced that further study into the mechanics behind the internal movements will bring further enlightenment and insight to my practise of Taijiquan.

All comments, thoughts, references pertaining to said so, welcome and useful.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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