Qi Experience

Postby dorshugla » Fri Nov 21, 2003 8:45 pm


The elements you mentioned are true and are basic providing the "gong" has been reached.

"Gong" meaning you have the posture down along with its mechanical physical requirements such as relaxation, rounding, etc.

One should have put in at a maximum of 4-6 months training. Why? Certain Daoist/Buddhist gongs speak of 100 days practice where one sees results. Personally, 100 days of practice today is too short based on perceptions of laziness, disease conditions (lack of exercise in the general population, etc) and the "hurry" diseases.
I am sorry I cannot give a specific time frame but 2-3 hours/day for 4-6 months should do it.

Zhanzhuang is the simplest way to achieve this. 1-2hours/day for 6 months. Consistant practice is the key, as you already seem to know.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Nov 21, 2003 9:41 pm

Greetings Michael,

In response to your question concerning my address of placebos...

My placebo commentary derives from your statement:
< 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"...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.> Michael

Although I don't disagree, blatantly, with what you have said, I thought I should put forward some different views, for additional perspective.

Firstly, I believe ignorance of existance might hinder the access to the said sensations.

In otherword the opposite of what you said...

(If I tell them, they might create a feeling that does not exist-from imagination)-M
If I tell them, they might have greater access to the "real" feeling which can occur through awareness, and therefore become more aware of their body and its functionning, and possibly experience greater insight in their practice and experience).

Who can say if what another senses is "real" or not?

Heres an odd perception...If someone explains to me what a headache is, and I imagine I have a headache...and then eventually do get a headache, is it a real headache? Or is it just a figment of my imagination? Would the pain throbbing at the temples be imaginary? Or is it still caused by imbalance of hormones/chemicals etc dicharged by minds command? Therefore real.

<This type of problem exists with many people> Michael

Actually what I have heard is that only 8% of the population is highly suggestive and impressionable in that way. I don't know if that constitues many...probably closer to very few.

<This will interfere.
For some others, "chi" can become a distraction/obsession. > Michael

I guess it could become a distraction to a point, but as for obsession...I don't think witholding relevant and reasonable information in a students studies or keeping students ignorant for fear that one of them may become obsessed with the concept a highly valid one.

Most will not become obsessed with any of the concepts you should happen to put forth, but I'm really unsure of the statistics on that one.

I hope I have clarified my thoughts on placebos.

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-21-2003).]

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-21-2003).]
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Nov 21, 2003 9:54 pm

Chogyam Trungpa wrote a book called Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism in which he talked about people who are constantly shopping for and aquiring new spiritual practices but never developing any depth, filling their 'room' with more and more clutter, no sooner finding one thing then on to the next. I think this is the difficulty Audi was alluding to earlier. My personal opinion is that beginners should concentrate on form practice and the ten essentials. There is more than enough to work on in those for a few years. Too much theory in the beginning is a distraction from the real training.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:19 pm

Greetings Jerry,

Your mention of that book brought back memories. I bought it at the Whole Earth Festival in Davis, California, probably around 1976 or so. I think I bought it for wholly aesthetic (not holy ascetic) reasons: It was being sold by an attractive young woman dressed in orange, sitting cross-legged behind a low table stacked with oranges, and with copies of the book, whose covers were also orange. I was smitten by the whole gestalt, and bought a copy just for a chance to participate.

The book is long gone, but the memory (orange) remains.

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby dorshugla » Fri Nov 21, 2003 10:55 pm

Based on pslamchemist's explanation and his kindness in expressing this belief, this is one reasonI do not "pollute" beginners with concpt sof qi, yi, shen, etc. They must work through the initial postures to relax, feel, sense, etc their level of progression.
To inject these arcane concepts is to propmt and induce (my words) my own principles on their impressionable minds.

I will ask blanket questions for them to describe how practice went? or what happened when you practiced open/close (per Sun style)for 1 hour? Anything else would be prompting!

I have assigned works for students to read so they can have a background to decipher stuff on their own volution instead of regyrgitatiung what I say. This is the best rule as I find it works and allows student development.
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Postby psalchemist » Fri Nov 21, 2003 11:47 pm

Greetings Louis,

Nice little story, I'm partial to orange myself. Image

Greetings Keechy,

Thanks for the posting.


I believe all sensations described could be either:

1) sensation of heavy blood flow
2) sensation of tendons flexing, expanding, contracting
3) Qi in association with the above
4) any one or combination of the above.

About sitting Qigong practice, I've naught to add or subtract, but bid you enjoyment in your endeavors.

Also, you stated:
<Another related observation(for men only) is that such a guiding force is diminished greatly when practised after ejaculation(release of jing). For at these moments of practise, there is no urge to continue after a while because there is no qi sensation and the motion becomes meaningless and boring after a while. This, I believe, is the strongest reason why I belive that the guiding movement is not due to imagination> Keechy

I have two references here which may be helpful, or thought provoking...

From Acupuncture.com...
"The Eight Extraordinary Vessels", by Yang Jwing-Ming:

Indicated as the sixth extraordinary vessel:

The YIN HEEL VESSEL (Yinqiao Mai) :
<The yin heel vessel is connected with two cavities of the kidney channel. Therefore, one of the major sources of Qi for this vessel is the conversion of the kidney essence into Qi...It is believed in Qigong society that the other major Qi source is the essence of the external kidneys(testicles). In Marrow Washing Qigong, one of the training processes is to stimulate the testicles in order to increase the hormone production and increase the conversion of the essence into Qi. At the same time, you would learn how to lead the Qi in this vessel up to the head to nourish the brain and spirit(Shen). With this nourishment you would be able to reach enlightenment. From a health and longevity point of view, the raised spirit will be able to efficiently direct the Qi of the entire body and maintain your health. >


From "The Principles of Tai Chi" by Paul Brecher:

<There are two reasons for having the sphincter muscle slightly tensed, pulled inward and upward. Firstly, it helps the Chi ascend up into the body, and secondly, some higher level complex internal Chi Kung exercises make use of having strength in and mental control of the sphincter muscle, the perineum and the sexual organs. These exercises pump the Chi and vital essence up the spine to the head.
When men have strength in and mental control over these areas, they can practise the Taoist Orgasmic Non-Ejaculatory Lovemaking Techniques which result in no Chi or essence being lost through seminal emission. Over time this conversion of Chi and essence leads to better health and greater internal power. Just prior to the loss of seminal essence, men tend to feel elated and inflated, and afterwards, they feel depressed and deflated, owing to the loss of Chi and essence. The conservation of seminal essenceis an important factor in maintaining not only a strong constitution but also emotional and mental stability. >

To close,
You said:
< 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, ...Tai Chi Chuan is more of a martial art. But both are regarded as moving meditations.

Yes, I do believe you are correct, I agree, nicely said.

Best regards,

[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 11-21-2003).]
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Postby Audi » Sun Nov 23, 2003 10:25 pm

Greetings all,

David, let me echo some of what Louis said about your post on the origin of Taijiquan. My comments were not directly aimed at what you posted, although what you posted was a trigger for some of what I said.

Let me try to explain my approach in a different way. Again, I am not addressing any particular previous poster or poster, nor am I trying to imply that anyone else agrees or disagrees with any particular point or with my position taken as a whole. I am just trying to explain my own experience and take on things.

At this moment, I accept a very wide definition of what is commonly called “Tai Chi” and have some interest in just about every variety I have heard described, have seen, or have practiced. At the same time, I have not yet heard a definition of “Tai Chi” that on detailed examination would be accepted by all or even most of my Taiji friends. For instance, many people talk about doing whatever is accepted by the “Classics.” As I understand it, not everyone defines the same group of works as “Classics.” Also, in practice, different practitioners put vastly different emphasis on different works and often put the greatest emphasis on recent works that most would not define as belonging to the “Classics.”

Even if we take such a recently and heavily documented figure as Yang Chengfu, I think we find that his teaching has spawned a vast variety of methods that often are mutually contradictory at many levels. For example, does seating your wrist mean “flexing” it, or keeping it straight? Should your Taijiquan rely on using the Macrocosmic orbit, or not?

Some people are lumpers. Others are splitters. In approaching the social context of Taijiquan, I am a lumper. I am glad this forum has contributors from many backgrounds and would think it much the poorer if only students of Yang Zhenduo participated. In practice, I am a splitter. I believe I lost several years of development, by not understanding that all approaches to Taijiquan were not necessarily interchangeable or additive. I honestly see many friends in similar situations, trying to reconcile things that I strongly believe are not intended to be reconciled.

Others believe that the issue is really finding out what is true Taijiquan and what is not. They would argue whether flexing or straightening the wrist would represent the “true Taijiquan” or Yang Chengfu’s true and most refined teaching. I find this personally to be unhelpful and prefer to discuss such things differently.

Given my position, I find that I can profitably approach certain topics in only very limited ways. I do not mean to imply that other approaches are invalid, only that I no longer know how to go down those paths. For example, I recall a poster who posted several questions about “Old Yang Style.” To me, this term implies an entire set of arguments and contexts that I could not address properly without writing a twenty-page post.

How does one define a “style”? What exactly is “Yang” Style? What is “old” and what is “new”? Is the term “Taijiquan” always used to describe the art as a whole, or a particular practitioner’s major barehand form? As a result of all these uncertainties, I do not like such questions and reply, if at all, in only limited fashion.

As for “manipulation of Qi,” here is my understanding, which I would like to explain through a baseball analogy. As far as I know, the vast majority of professionally baseball players accept the theories and principles of modern science. I would be surprised, however, if many have extensive knowledge of the neurology, anatomy, or physiology involved in swinging a baseball bat. To some, such knowledge is probably indeed helpful, but I believe that one can learn to swing a bat without knowing much of anything of these disciplines.

Because of questions about my earlier statements, I did a quick reality check by flipping through Yang Zhenduo’s book, Yang Style Taijiquan. Although I do not think the book was intended to lay down anything approaching his full art, I do think he intended to describe the fundamentals of his style. Unlike many other books I have seen, I see nothing in it about Qi Gong practices, meditation, stretching, aerobics, yoga, or many other good and worth arts. I have no idea what Yang Zhenduo’s attitude is about many of these; however, I think I must conclude that he did not believe that any of these things were fundamental to the theories he laid out for Yang Style.

In my cursory review of the book, I found two obvious references to Qi phenomena.

First, on pages 5-6, he describes Yang Style as follows: “The movements are naturally combined with breathing which should be deep and should ‘sink to the dan tian’ (a point in the lower belly slightly below the navel). Here again it is quite different from the Chen Style which combines ‘sink deep breath to the dan tian’ with ‘breath circulation in the lower belly’.” I believe the first reference is to what is described in Chinese as “Qi chen dan tian” (“The Qi sinks to the Dantain”).

I personally find the original translation quite illustrative of the fact that what is being described is not a complex manipulation that can be performed only after prolonged or specialized training or only with experienced focus. When I have heard this technique described in person, it was done in quite prosaic, down-to-earth terms that in my opinion bore little in common with the complex charts and diagrams I have seen in some books. Although I think I could demonstrate the meaning in person, it is hard to put it into words. For me, it boils down to something like being aware of where “I” am inside my body and locating this sense in my Dantian, or at least near to where my waist “energy” manifests itself. My purpose is not to deny or affirm the content of the charts or the diagrams of others, but to make clear that the Yangs did not present their material in this fashion and implied that focusing on such levels of complexity during practice was not appropriate to their style.

If anyone has attended a Yang family seminar or class and recalls being advised to focus on Qi circulation or being taught Qi Gong exercises, I would be curious to know of this.

I also do not mean to deny the marvelous effects of “sinking Qi to the Dantian” in both a health and a martial sense. I find this to be a quite subtle and important practice that I ignore all too often. I think it also has deeper aspects that might be misunderstood by viewing it simply as “deep breathing.” The fact that the term “Dantian” is used does not, in my opinion, imply that Yang Style Taijiquan has imported into its theories all of the vast, complicated, and apparently conflicting traditions about the Dantian that may have evolved in Chinese thought over the last 2500 years.

The other reference to Qi phenomena I found in the book was a quotation of Yang Chengfu’s Ten Essentials of Taijiquan. Here he explicitly refers to meridians in his explanation of “Using the mind instead of force.” I again find the context illustrative. Here is a partial quote:

“People may ask: How can one increase his strength without exercising force? According to traditional 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 consciousness and circulate all over the body. Through persistent practice one will be able to have genuine internal force. This is what Taijiquan experts call ‘lithe in appearance, but powerful in essence.’”

First, I find that the very reference to “traditional Chinese medicine” implies that Yang Chengfu was reaching for corroboration from outside of his core art, in the same way that a golfer might refer to physiology or physics to explain a particular method. To my mind, this does not mean that such references imply a privileged access to the underlying art. In other words, I do not need to be a physicist to play golf, and good physicists do not necessarily make good golfers. Studying physics is also not necessarily a magic key to open the door to a better golf game. I would equally assert that studying traditional Chinese medicine is not a required gate to understanding the Yangs’ Taijiquan.

Secondly, the entire emphasis of the quotation is on why “stiff strength” is bad, why “vital energy” (“jingshen”) and internal force (“nei jin”) are good, and why the “mind” (“Yi”) or consciousness are all that are necessary. Nowhere is there a direct emphasis on using the mind to manipulate, circulate, stimulate, generate, or even unlock Qi. I am not sure if the word Qi even appears anywhere in the quote. In my opinion, the emphasis is on two things: not using stiff force and on using the mind. The former blocks the “vital energy” (“jingshen”), and the latter allows the “vital energy” to “follow in its way” and to “circulate.”

If one reads the quote as implying that Yang Chengfu’s Taijiquan must naturally derive from the complex body of meridian theories, I do not understand why all Chinese martial arts do not follow Taijiquan’s theories or why all acupuncturists do not practice Taijiquan to the exclusion of any other arts. As far as I know, Taijiquan and Chinese medicine do not have a privileged relationship that cannot be claimed by many other arts. Qi phenomena are used to justify a whole range of things that in my view have little bearing on Taijiquan, from causing spontaneous combustion, levitating, or rendering one’s body bullet proof. Probably all “traditional” Chinese, Korean, and Japanese martial arts reference Qi and claim to have the secrets to mobilizing it to maximum effectiveness.

Again, I am not supporting or denying any particular meridian theories, only expressing my skepticism that understanding the various theories or engaging in practices derived from them are truly fundamental to anything the Yangs are describing. Why write a whole book and make only one or two casual references to isolated aspects of this? I honestly do not think the Yangs’ approach to Taijiquan is centered on Qi and think that pursuing the ins and outs of Qi will not help one learn much of their art. I would also say the same about breath control, blood circulation, neurology, and muscular control.

One particular concern I must confess to is the practice of the microcosmic orbit. I have only a minor personal experience with this practice; however, every time I have seen it described by renowned authors, I see it coupled with strong warnings against exploring it if done without expert supervision. I have also heard of third- or fourth-hand criticisms from traditional Chinese doctors who counsel against any such conscious manipulation of one’s Qi movement. I personally know of no one who has claimed to fall ill from doing the microcosmic orbit, but I have talked to people who have attributed illness to certain other Qi Gong practices. As I understand it, standard Taijiquan is supposed to be a relatively safe way of garnering the same benefits without the attended risks in unguided practice. I wonder, therefore, why someone would want to experiment with this outside of the supervision of someone with the required expertise to provide safe guidance.

If one has a good teacher, I can see little wrong in engaging in any practice, including the microcosmic orbit. I am incompetent to judge the worth of any particular teacher’s knowledge or theories if I have not even met them. I do, however, feel compelled to distinguish between various teachings. One of the very strong currents throughout the Yangs’ teachings is that their methods rely on natural movements of the body, rather than on trained manipulation of Qi, muscles, tendons, Jin (strength), Jing (essence), or anything else, with the possible exception of the mind or spirit. As far as I understand it, they say that any necessary changes to these things can be accomplished in their style safely and naturally through practice of the form itself. If one follows a method that prescribes some other practice or practices as “necessary” or “essential” to making progress in basic gongfu, I respectfully assert that such is a significantly different approach. Whether such approaches are good, bad, better, or worse requires an entirely different discussion on entirely different lines.

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Audi (edited 11-23-2003).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 24, 2003 1:31 am

Greetings Audi,

I enjoyed your post, and I think we’re much in agreement on the “manipulation of qi” issue. However, I’m compelled to point out that the translation of Yang Chengfu’s Ten Essentials in the old Morning Glory edition is problematic on a few counts. I think you have a copy of Yang Zhenduo’s newer Chinese book, which has the source text on pp. 26-27. You might also compare my translation, or Jerry’s (on this site) with the original, and you’ll notice that the Morning Glory version in some case omits wording or elaborates beyond the original. The words “According to traditional Chinese medicine,” for example, were added, probably for the benefit of Western readers unfamiliar with meridians. Also, you mentioned you weren’t sure the word “qi” appeared in the quote from Essential #6. It does, translated in the MG version as “vital energy.”

Take care,

[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 11-23-2003).]
Louis Swaim
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Nov 24, 2003 7:05 pm

Greetings All,

Here are a few further thoughts on what I see as a de-emphasis on direct manipulation of or preoccupation with qi in taijiquan. I’ve already posted elsewhere my reading of the lines in the ‘Mental Elucidation’ classic that the focus should not be placed on the qi. This is not to say that qi doesn’t play an important role in taiji movement or taiji movement theory, but rather that mental preoccupation with qi as some sort of separable phenomenon may actually be counterproductive, and interfere with natural movement.

I think there may be some added perspective in Chen Weiming’s commentary upon this particular text. I’m working from memory here, but my recollection is that Chen commented on one of the lines that used the term “yun qi,” which could be translated “mobilize, circulate, or move the qi.” Chen says that this reference to “yun qi” does not imply “extraordinary” methods (ge2wai4: extraordinary, exceptional, unusual). This is merely my interpretation, but I think Chen’s remark here may have been a pointed attempt to contrast the approach of taijiquan with other practices that explicitly isolate and focus upon qi. As I’ve noted before, the term qigong did not have any real currency at the time Chen Weiming was writing. The term “yun qi,” however, has historically been used for exercises and routines that in modern terms are sometimes called “qigong.” He may have been reacting to practices he felt had a qualitatively different emphasis than taijiquan.

Again, this is my interpretation, and I may be reading something into it that’s not there. Incidentally, Barbara Davis’ new book of taijiquan classics translations will be coming out soon, and will include her translation of Chen Weiming’s commentaries. I'm really looking forward to reading it. It will be interesting to see how these passages are treated.

Take care,
Louis Swaim
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:04 pm

While the Wu family does place emphasys on the meridians and jing, they do not spend a huge amount of time training "Chi" manipulation.
I was shown some very basic Chi-kung exercises, and we used them more for warm-ups than anything else.
I related on a previous thread the one and only time I ever got a Wu family member to say anything about Chi, so I won't repeat it here. It was short and to the point.
I was shown a good way to generate it quickly, then taught to feel it and recognize it, I was told to try to keep it sunk to the dantian and that's about it. Then I was told not to worry about it so much, that it would all come naturally in time.
That was the main thrust of the teaching I recieved from them. That if I simply focused my mind on doing correct form, the chi would take care of itself. I should be aware of it, I should know what it is and why it's there, and then pretty much leave it to it's own devices.
"Chi follows mind intent" is the only real quote I ever heard any of them or thier disciples say. That seemed to be all they really wanted us to know about it.
Then there is "jing", which was more closely correlated to "meridians". Accupoints and accupressure were covered, but more as a way to show key points for applying Na, or for places where you could more effectively fajin.
No real point, other than to say that I think we're making a mountain out of a mole hill over chi.
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Postby Michael » Mon Nov 24, 2003 10:54 pm

Audi, Louis, Wushuer,

Not that any of you need an validation, I agree with you.
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Nov 25, 2003 1:47 am

Greetings All,

Thank-you everyone for all the details describing how Taijiquan does and does not apply the use of qi methodology.

So, although qi may be a part of Taijiquan, it is not the basis for it's internal power in the same manner as it would be in Qigong.

This clarifies my perception somewhat. Image

Best regards,
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:29 pm

Hi psalchemist,

Assorted notes.

Healing chi and martial chi are two different things. I know of two people each sensitive to one but not the other. Someday they'll meet in the middle. I might not have seen this clearly if I hadn't seen them interact in one instance.

Elbows and knees are always bent. Note that I am not specifying how much.

The spine isn't exactly straight. Thomas Jefferson wanted to build a wall the standard two-brick thickness but he found he didn't have enough bricks, so he made the wall one brick thick, but gently curving back and forth, which gave the structure additional strength. The spine does a similar curving forward and back for additional lateral stability.

I would be careful of this to "Allow your shoulders to relax and sink down, slightly forward." I would make that "rearward." I was taught to roll the shoulders up-back-and down, and then let them drop, that is, hang. When the shoulders move forward they must return back. In some movements having your shoulders forward can give you a rotator cuff injury. In the sabre set, where the sabre is point down in front and then raised over your head, if you hear a click in your shoulder that's from having your shoulder too far forward, and a tendon passing tightly over a bone.

> The elbows are lower than the shoulders <

If this is supposed to be an overall rule, this might be a mistranslation, since we have movements like 'White Crane' 'Strike Tiger' 'Double Wind' etc, where the elbow is higher than the shoulder. There is an upper limit but that isn't it. If someone has that as a rule in their style, that's OK I guess, but a fuller range of motion of the shoulder is employed in what I do
There is a rule "If your hand is higher than your waist your elbow should be below the wrist."

"You should always have a space under the armpits about the size of a fist." I think this is the secret to the "hollow" chest oft mentioned.

I was taught that joints should be open in standing meditation for chi flow.


David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 11-25-2003).]
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Postby DavidJ » Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:50 pm

Hi All,

I've looked over what I've written and I'm not sure where all the objections are coming from. I guess I didn't do a good job of expressing my thoughts in regard to chi.

In simply doing Tai Chi Chuan chi is circulated, is this not a known part of it? Do you not deliberately practice Tai Chi Chuan? If so, then aren't you deliberately doing someting that circulates chi?

Audi, you 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. <

Not based on knowledge of chi? Yang Chen Fu talks of chi, does he not? This may sound strange but haven't you noticed that Tai Chi Chuan has chi in the title?

As for not becoming familiar with the meridians. That seems a little like knowing cars exist, driving daily, but not wanting to know about road maps.

In the past I have mentioned Da Liu writing about what meridians are activated by which moves, but I never put too much emphasis on it.

If you don't think that developing chi is inline with TCC that's OK with me, but I believe that stronger chi can develop over time by practicing form, and that using Chi Gung, like ZZ, to increase one's chi can benefit Tai Chi Chuan, and is fully in line with it.


David J
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:58 pm

The second character of Tai Chi Chuan is not qi4 but ji2 'extreme'.
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