Tai Chi Chuan and Chigung

Tai Chi Chuan and Chigung

Postby The Wandering Brit » Thu May 06, 2004 5:27 pm

Hi,

Just wanted to do some more brain picking, so here goes...

Chigung is an integral part of my Yang Tai Chi class - we are taught that standing Chigung is every bit as important as form practice - but from reading around it seems that this is in no way a universal situation.

Do other Yang teachers place a great deal of importance in Chigung; do other posters on here practice it? What are your feelings on its benefits (or otherwise) to your Tai Chi practice? Why do you practise Chigung (or why don't you)?

Regards,

Brit
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Postby gene » Thu May 06, 2004 6:30 pm

Hello W.B.:

I find qigong to be an excellent warmup for form practice, and especially refreshing and rejuvenating in the morning. It's also easy to work in during breaks in the day, as it requires less space than the form. I think such breaks are important to clear the mind, and also because taiji principles should be constantly practiced - not just once in the morning or during class. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, qigong provides the chance to develop the feeling I am aiming for - expansion through relaxation, and vice-versa - by constant repetition of a single movement.

Gene
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Postby Michael » Thu May 06, 2004 10:35 pm

Hello.

Gene and Wandering Brit, what kind of qigong are you doing?

I was doing Wild Goose for several years and found it was very helpful for my taiji and frankly, everything else. I think it is time I started doing it again. I've missed it.
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Postby Polaris » Fri May 07, 2004 2:02 am

Greetings All,

Ch'i kung (please forgive the Wade-Giles) is an important part of my training and teaching. For some seniors' classes, it is all they can do! The ch'i kung we do is that handed down from my teachers' family. My Sifu has called it "T'ai Chi Kung" or "Nei Kung" on occasion, usually he just says "breathing" when he refers to it, however.

There is a health maintenance aspect to it, but the main reason we train it is for "power generation." That is where we learn to coordinate p'eng, lu, chi, etc. with the breathing. This happens in the forms as well (my Sifu's grandfather, the late master Wu Kung-yi, used to call the solo forms a "long ch'i kung") but the coordination is isolated and trained repetitively with minute attention to detail in ch'i kung training. Also, the ch'i kung is used to train what is called "shielding," the ability to neutralize an impact with the breath. First one has to learn how to neutralize with circles, then smaller circles and then with no apparent motion at all. This is senior level martial training. Eventually, if someone punches you, their hand breaks. If someone kicks you, their foot breaks. It is very good for stopping a fight with a minimum of fuss.

Cheers,
P.
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Postby The Wandering Brit » Fri May 07, 2004 9:22 am

Hi all,

'Expansion through relaxation' and 'Power generation' are exactly what we concentrate on through our 8 standing movements. Focus is on correct body alignment, sinking chi to the tantien, rooting, expanding, and getting correct intention going.

As to what type of Chi Kung I do, it's called 'The John Ding Yeung Sang Hey Kung'. I don't know the roots of it, all I know is that Master Ding is my teacher's teacher; he is the First Disciple of Grandmaster Ip Tai Tak, so I guess it is something that was passed down to him, although his putting his name to it suggests that perhaps he has changed or personalised it somehow...

How did you find Wild Goose Michael? I know nothing about it, but there is a week-long residential seminar over here this Summer focussing purely on Wild Goose.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri May 07, 2004 4:55 pm

Polaris,
Have you ever actually broken an arm or a foot like this, with no apparent movement? Have you ever seen anyone else do that?
I took the training for it, but I never got beyond the larger circular methods. I don't know anyone who has actually gotten past that level, even with all the disciples I know.
Sifu showed some remarkable demonstrations of it, but I've never seen anyone else do it.
Not doubting it can be done, because I have seen Sifu do these things with my own eyes, just wondering how long it might take for your average bear, like me, to get there.
I know, it's different for each person, but after, now, about nine years of working on this method, I'm just now beginning to make my circles smaller.
Maybe it's another one of those things I'm just not "getting". There are many, many of those for me unfortunately.
Fortunately, what I do "get", I've managed to take to a fairly high level. But this isn't one of them, yet.
Any practical advice you might have for reducing the circles required would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
I do love the Ch'i Kung of the Wu style. Though it was several years after I began studying "breathing" that I knew that was what I was doing. We only ever said, as you say, "breathing" to describe this.
I thought, "what a lot of bother for breathing!" when I first started.
Little did I know....
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Postby Wushuer » Fri May 07, 2004 5:00 pm

TWB,
Polaris has described the Wu style Ch'i Kung much better than I could have, so 'nuff said about that.
Except to say that my YCF instructor also says the same thing that Wu Kung Yi did, that the long form is nothing more than a long Ch'i Kung exercise.
Apparently every time you do the form you're doing a form of Ch'i Kung.
That has remained consistent in all styles I have trained.
I don't know what the Yangs teach about how necessary extra Ch'i Kung training is outside the form training, but I have seen no references to it in their cirriculum.
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Postby The Wandering Brit » Fri May 07, 2004 5:03 pm

Weird - the answer to almost every question in class about improving almost any aspect of Tai Chi is 'More Ch'i Gung'! It's certainly a major emphasis on Yang style over here.
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Postby Wushuer » Fri May 07, 2004 5:33 pm

Well, it is here, too.
It's just done in the form.
The answer to improving almost any thing in TCC IS "more Ch'i kung", no matter where you are in the world.
Do more form work, you're doing more ch'i kung.
Right?
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Postby gene » Fri May 07, 2004 5:52 pm

Hi Michael:

I practice a series of qigong exercises that are part of the wu ji jing gong taiji system taught by Master William Ting. Some time ago, I was taught a set of ba duan jin exercises that I also enjoyed. I view them as a supplement to the form, certainly not a replacement.

Gene
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Postby Michael » Fri May 07, 2004 6:26 pm

Gene,

I first practiced the "Northern Star Qigong" reportedly developed by Dong Hichuan before I started Taijiquan. My Kuang Ping instructor also taught Wild Goose which did more to open the blockages in me than anything I had done before. I probably made more progress in those couple years than at any other time in my taiji life. This one suited me somehow better than the Northern star, but I would not say one is better than the other, only different and the same.


Michael

[This message has been edited by Michael (edited 05-07-2004).]
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Postby Gu Rou Chen » Sat May 08, 2004 2:35 am

Polaris, Wushuer,

Do the Wu's talk about practicing "the surface of a sphere" vs. practicing "the center of a sphere"? I have heard it articulated this way by Yang experts. I am wondering if this is what your school may refer to as "large circle" vs. "small circle".

Jeff
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Postby The Wandering Brit » Mon May 10, 2004 9:21 am

Wushuer,

Right - but as a caveat, I'd say that for the less experienced among us doing Chi Kung seperately from the form is probably much more important than it is for experienced practitioners like yourself.

Personally, I find that during standing practise my focus is much clearer and I can work on internal aspects without becoming distracted by the myriad things I'm doing wrong whilst practicing the form.
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Postby Wushuer » Mon May 10, 2004 1:25 pm

WB,
Sure. Whatever works.
I still do Chi Kung, all the time.
It's the first thing I do in the morning right after warm ups.
I don't do anywhere near as much as I used to, because I've found the Chi Kung in the form is mostly what I need, but I do like to get started with it.
Doing forms before I'm moving chi doesn't work for me very well. I like it all to be moving and warmed up, ready to go, before I start to try and get my body moving along with it early in the day.
Saves me a lot of stumbling around in the a.m., after all.
But...
I think that most folks, who do this as a hobby and not as a way of life, are going to be just fine with the Chi Kung they get from form practice.
After all, not everyone who practices TCC does so to be a Yang Lu Chan or Sun Lu Tang.
For most, it's a hobby.
Nothing wrong with that. It's my hobby, too.
I tend to take it to the extreme for a hobby, but I'm certainly not doing it for a living.
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Postby Polaris » Wed May 12, 2004 11:56 pm

Jeff and Wushuer,

Greetings. The questions:

"Do the Wu's talk about practicing "the surface of a sphere" vs. practicing "the center of a sphere"? I have heard it articulated this way by Yang experts. I am wondering if this is what your school may refer to as "large circle" vs. "small circle"."

The answer is yes to both questions. The way I was taught was that a point, line and a circle all have their respective rotations. The outer edge of a rotating disc, although it may have the same r.p.m. of an inner point on the disc, is definitely moving faster. If you speed up the inner point, then the outer point is moving faster still. I am sure this is the same concept as surface:centre of a sphere, allowing for translation diffrences. It is first demonstrated from the form, and then in pushing hands as to how to differentiate degrees of circularity and the different leverages which result.

As for W.'s question, yes, we see bones broken in this way occasionally. The time that I saw it was when a challenger from a hard style came into the school many years ago insulting T'ai Chi as an old man's art, challenging Sifu to fight. To the challenger's credit, he ended up becoming a student when he healed sufficiently.

Cheers,
P.
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