Purpose - Tai Chi

Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby dottaichi » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:18 am

Hey there everyone,

My name is Ronald and I'm a student of Tai Chi :)

My Dad / Teacher is also a Tai Chi teacher, and has been practicing the Yang Style for more than 40 years. I've only recently began learning, and found tai chi exciting!

I've also created a website , and here's an except from the website of my understanding of Tai chi:

When I first came to know about Tai Chi, my impression was old people in the parks moving their hands and feet (very slowly). I had some reservations.

On the other hand, my Dad/Teacher seemed pretty fanatical about it. So I thought: what the hell, let me try it out myself and see what’s this all about!

I asked Teacher:-

What is Taichi?

“What are we trying to do? What's the purpose?”

Teacher answered:

My understanding of Tai Chi is summed up by the term, ‘Dot Tai Chi’.

Dot Tai Chi is about nurturing our health(养身). To do this, we follow the principles of nature (“道法自然”), and create an environment in our bodies that allow for increased circulation (“氣血流動”) in our internal organs (“五藏六腑”) in order to enable our body to have sufficient life force to self-regulate and self-recover

By practicing Tai Chi, we enter this state; i.e. the Tai Chi State (太極狀態)
How do we enter the Tai Chi State?

Entering the Tai Chi State can be simple. And it can be complicated.

It is simple because we can enter the Tai Chi State by being relaxed. If there is one principle in Tai Chi that you take away, then simply take away this: Relax (放松).

Well that sounds simple. How do we ‘Relax’?

That is the complicated part – How do we relax?

To be relaxed, we have to create suitable conditions in our body, so that our body can be relaxed. We have to have a Stable Body Structure (框架稳定).

Without a stable body structure, our body will tense up. We cannot enter the Tai Chi state when we are tense. We cannot create a building without first building the foundation. Likewise, we must create suitable conditions in our body to enter the Tai Chi State by being relaxed.

In other words, to Relax, we must first have a Stable Body Structure.


Grateful for any feedbacks you may have! Many thanks, and wishing all of you a belated happy Mid-Autumn Festival :)
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:54 pm

dottaichi, welcome to the forum!

Your OP is too broad to be responded to. If you have a question, may I ask you to make it more specific and narrow it down to a single subject? Is there any part of the OP need to be addressed for clarity? To the best of my knowledge, I am glad to attempt to answer any specific practice detail about Taiji Quan for you. Thank you!
A deep discussion requires explicit details for a good comprehension of a complex subject.
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:22 pm

dottaichi wrote:
Well that sounds simple. How do we ‘Relax’?

That is the complicated part – How do we relax?

To be relaxed, we have to create suitable conditions in our body, so that our body can be relaxed. We have to have a Stable Body Structure (框架稳定).

Without a stable body structure, our body will tense up. We cannot enter the Tai Chi state when we are tense. We cannot create a building without first building the foundation. Likewise, we must create suitable conditions in our body to enter the Tai Chi State by being relaxed.

In other words, to Relax, we must first have a Stable Body Structure.


Grateful for any feedbacks you may have! Many thanks, and wishing all of you a belated happy Mid-Autumn Festival :)


Hi dottaichi,
In the past few weeks, I had given some thoughts about how do we relax? Relax and stable body structure may not have to be directly interrelated. Relax is just loosen up the muscles without any special effort or have something to do with stabilizing the body. However, if the body is not stable for standing up, then, one wouldn't have a stable body structure to begin with. What I could say is that practicing Tai Chi will create suitable conditions to enhance the ability for the body to maintain balance.
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby Bob Ashmore » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:36 pm

Not just "the muscles" need to be relaxed to achieve Sung.
Sung must also include relaxed tendons, ligaments, and fascia on the physical side.
However if you cannot also relax the mind then even properly relaxing the body is not enough.
Even after you are able to fully and properly relax both the body and the mind, then you must also raise your Spirit. If you cannot raise your Spirit then being able to fully relax the body and mind will still lead you to failure.
If even one of these three elements are are done incorrectly, you cannot achieve Sung.
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:14 pm

There is one most important feature in Tai Ji which most people are neglected. It is breathing. If one claims that all of the above has been accomplished but ignored the significance of abdominal breathing, then, one has not been fully accomplished the goal of Tai Chi. Unless, one is able to "sink chi to the dantian" or 氣沈丹田 after years of practice.
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby fchai » Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:08 am

Greetings,

The aspect of breathing in Taiji is interesting. When one reads the teachings of various masters, breathing is quite often not specifically mentioned. A recent document I read mentions that one should "breathe naturally". There was an advice when this matter came up in earlier discussions, was that Master Yang Jun's advice is to "just breathe". In my practice and particularly in my teaching, I have formed an opinion that somewhat aligns with ChiDragon's. If one does not practice deep and slow abdominal breathing, the attainment of ''stillness in motion'', and other aspects of the 10 principles, is likely to become problematic and difficult for the practitioner. That being said, it is quite possibly a judgement issue as to when a student should begin to focus on their breathing, so as not to affect their learning of the form. Breathing is also an intrinsic part of harnessing qi, so just letting a student breathe willy-nilly without some guidance or instruction, may be to the detriment of their journey and mastery in the practice of Taiji.

That's my tuppence worth.
Take care,
Frank
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:20 pm

fchai wrote:Greetings,

The aspect of breathing in Taiji is interesting.
When one reads the teachings of various masters, breathing is quite often not specifically mentioned. A recent document I read mentions that one should "breathe naturally". There was an advice when this matter came up in earlier discussions, was that Master Yang Jun's advice is to "just breathe". In my practice and particularly in my teaching, I have formed an opinion that somewhat aligns with ChiDragon's. If one does not practice deep and slow abdominal breathing, the attainment of ''stillness in motion'', and other aspects of the 10 principles, is likely to become problematic and difficult for the practitioner. That being said, it is quite possibly a judgement issue as to when a student should begin to focus on their breathing, so as not to affect their learning of the form. Breathing is also an intrinsic part of harnessing qi, so just letting a student breathe willy-nilly without some guidance or instruction, may be to the detriment of their journey and mastery in the practice of Taiji.


Greetings, Frank
I always enjoy reading words that are eloquently written. I admire your talent!
As you'd said the aspect of breathing in Taiji is interesting. It would be more interesting if we look into the subtlety of Taiji breathing. "Breathe naturally" and "just breathe" are Taiji breathing with a given name. We should not take it too literally. There are many principles behind the Taiji breathing. We should discuss them carefully and patiently. If anyone has any valuable ideas or questions about Taiji breathing, please joint into the discussion to give us some feedbacks. Thank you!
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:16 pm

Let's start the discussion from here!

I believe all Taiji instructors just told all the beginner to "breathe naturally" or "just breathe" for a reason. However, it doesn't mean that natural breathing cannot be improved!

Anyway, let's ask ourselves about "breathe naturally!" Does it mean that we breathe like we normally do forever? If we always breathe normally and expect no changes in our respiratory system, then, what have we accomplished from practicing Taiji? Somehow, there has to be some kind of improvement to the physical body. Otherwise, Taiji Quan would not have been invented and claimed to improve the health of the human body. Am I correct?

There are some people breathe very shallow. Is that a good natural breathing habit? If not, how should it be improved?
Does anyone has any clue about natural breathing would like to share with us?
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:54 am

This discussion is addressed to beginners or some reviews for some practitioners.

Learning all the Taiji movements is the first thing for all beginners. However, just by learning the movements without knowing the principles is not learning Taiji at all. Here are some of the questions we should ask ourselves.
1. What is the purpose of learning Taiji?
2. What is the final product or end result from the practice?
3. What to expect during the interim before the goal of Taiji was reached?

1 and 2. Let's talk about the purpose of Taiji other than the practitioner. It is because each practitioner has one's own individual purpose. Some for health, some want to be a fighter and so on. Regardless what the goal is, the final result will get one there. It is a matter of how much time which one wants to be invested into the practice. Finally, the purpose of Taiji is to have the ability to perform abdominal breathing as well stated in the quote below.

fchai wrote:If one does not practice deep and slow abdominal breathing, the attainment of ''stillness in motion'', and other aspects of the 10 principles, is likely to become problematic and difficult for the practitioner. That being said, it is quite possibly a judgement issue as to when a student should begin to focus on their breathing, so as not to affect their learning of the form. Breathing is also an intrinsic part of harnessing qi, so just letting a student breathe willy-nilly without some guidance or instruction, may be to the detriment of their journey and mastery in the practice of Taiji.


Can anyone practice deep and slow abdominal breathing or Taiji breathing? The answer is no, not anyone can. Only someone has no breathing problem can. However, without the practice of Taiji, even one can breathe deeply, still cannot perform the Taiji breathing. Taiji breathing can only be done after a long period of practice of the basic movements. After getting the physical change in the body from the ability to perform the breathing, one can fajin or handle a weapon. Taiji breathing is a requirement for all the rest of the higher level of practice. Fajin and weapons are a much higher level of practice.

One can talking about how good one can fajin but knew nothing about the Taiji breathing. The conclusion is that one does not have the ability to fajin or handle a Taiji weapon.

Just remember the definition of Taiji breathing. It is short for long deep and slow abdominal breathing.
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Re: Purpose - Tai Chi

Postby ChiDragon » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:03 pm

fchai wrote:.....it is quite possibly a judgement issue as to when a student should begin to focus on their breathing, so as not to affect their learning of the form. Breathing is also an intrinsic part of harnessing qi, so just letting a student breathe willy-nilly without some guidance or instruction, may be to the detriment of their journey and mastery in the practice of Taiji.


First of all, most people had lost the good breathing habit. Thus some people have problem breathing. Like some can breathe as deep as to the throat, chest, abdominal. Anyone can only perform abdominal breathing once awhile. Unfortunately, the detriment occurs here. It is because people had not practice Taiji breathing will have problems. When ordinary people take a deep breath, suddenly, a great amount of oxygen was rushed to the brain. Biologically, the brain cannot handle so much oxygen all at once, at the time, and will cause drowsiness, nausea, or faint. That is why the Taiji instructors just tell the students to "breathe naturally" or "just breathe."

The secret of breathing is hidden in the practice of the basic form rather than the form itself. The movements of the form has to be done slowly, so the breathing will be kicked in slowly as well. Hence, the oxygen will go into the brain slowly to prevent the mentioned symptoms above. The breathing effect to improve the respiratory system depends on how much time was invested in Taiji by each individual. Eventually, after a long time practice, the long deep and slow abdominal breathing will become a natural breathing as the final purpose of Taiji.
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