Realising The Classics in Practice

Realising The Classics in Practice

Postby Mike Taylor » Thu Apr 07, 2005 1:28 pm


My first post on the board so sorry if I ramble a little. I am currently researching how the Tai Chi classics can be realised in a pragmatic way through specific 'How To' exercise(s). Basically Looking for information on a clear explanation of how Tai Chi Theory can be understood and applied.

I have read many tai Chi books, articles etc and I am having trouble reconciling how the Tai Chi Classics can be realised in practice in a structured practical way. let me try to explain further.

I suppose I am trying to identify specific exercises and practice tips, through body work exercises and mind intention, and or visualisation, to help beginners and practioners, 3 years plus, to achieve/feel the Tai Chi classic requirements. Basically, i am looking for a road map/journey of exercise(s), including form work and push hands that provides a framework that is focused on preparing and developing the body, mind etc to realising the classics in practice.

I have started my resarch into this area, by reviwing journals, books and the web to find any examples of good exercises/practices to undertake.

Is there a good book or a number of articles that anyone can point me towards to help in my research and ongoing Tai Chi journey to realise the Tai Chi Classics? I have reviewed and read many of the Tai Chi classics books out there, but these lack the 'How to' material required.

as an example, lets take the quotes "sink the Qi to the Dantien" or "differentiate substantial from insubstantial" or "Relax and Loosen the joints". How should these feel and what are the practical exercises that can be utilised to feel and know?

Again, sorry for rambling.

Many thanks

Mike Taylor
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2001 6:01 am
Location: UK

Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Apr 07, 2005 2:09 pm

What style do you practice? I ask because each family style of TCC has differences in its training approach.
Further than that, even inside each family style, Yang, Wu, Wu/Hoa/Li, Sun, Chen, even in the Shaolin/Wudang styles, there are some major differences in training preferences and in which principles are emphasized, or even in how those principles are viewed in order of importance.
If we know which style you are training, specifically, we could probably help you out better.

Posts: 184
Joined: Mon May 03, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby AutumnStar » Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:55 pm


I'd just like to say that this would be of great benefit to beginnners. I've just started Yang Style TCC a few months ago. I find that there are several things that confuse me, such as how to "loosen the joints", I don't understand what this means. My Sifu talks about 'sinking into the Dantien' and 'feeling the arms supported by the 'stomach'' in the opening movements - which I feel something there but when I move into ward off left, I lose that feeling. Is there anything I can work on, focus on, etc to help myself there?

Should I be focusing on other things first?

Can anyone suggest a great book for a beginner? I want to be exposed to TCC theory, without the book being so far over my head that I can't finish reading it.

Autumn Star
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:01 am
Location: st. louis, mo

Postby Wu Chang-Chi » Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:29 pm

Mike / AutumnStar,
I am also a newcomer to Yang style TCC as I've only been practicing for 1.5 years.

As I am continuing to learn about the application and theory behind each of the forms, I concentrated on the physical movements first, so that they are part of muscle memory and I don't have to "think" about each form before I perform it.

Learning the physical aspects first allows me the mental clarity to focus on the metaphysical aspects of the forms. This does not mean that my form is physically perfect and my coach doesn’t continue to correct me. It does mean that I am beginning to incorporate those “things” that you have mentioned in your posts: sinking qi into the dantien, being loose, sinking the shoulders and elbows, relaxing and flowing.

Do not disregard what your teacher is explaining about these aspects. But, maybe store them away and revisit them later to explore and add to your form.

Everyone has different ways of learning material, this one just happened to work for me.

It's like a bass player who has become competent on their instrument, then attempts to play and sing vocals to a McCartney or Sting tune for the first time without rehearsing…train wreck.

Wu Chang-Chi
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:01 am

Postby Bamenwubu » Thu Apr 07, 2005 7:55 pm

I didn't want to recommend a specific book or DVD for Mike, because he doesn't say what style, or lineage within a style, that he practices.
For you others who have posted about just getting started...
Me too.
3 and 1/2 years in traditional Yang Family TCC. Still a beginner.
I would like to recommend to you the book I have found the most usefull. It is hard to get it now, I think it may be out of print in the U.S.A., but I still can find used copies for sale on Amazon. If you are a Chinese speaker the Chinese version was still available off the "Products" section of the Yangfamilytaichi website the last time I looked.
The book is Yang Style Taijiquan, by Yang Zhen Duo.
Excellent, excellent book. I have been constantly amazed at how simply the GM has been able to explain concepts that were completely over my head before. He breaks down the Ten Essentials in language even I can follow. He breaks down the form movements into simple, step by step, hand turn by hand turn explanations and each form has a list of "Important Points" that highlight each form moves particular areas to be conscious of.
The photographs are clear and easy to follow. One of my fellow students who saw the book for the very first time last night said that he could not believe how the GM seems to be moving in still photos. All the energy is clearly illustrated in each movement he makes.
The section at the end of the book where the GM discusses how to use the forms, more commonly known as the "application" section, is simply superb for putting a sense of opponent in each form movement you will make.
Just for instance, I had NO idea that the connecting of the left palm to the right forearm in the Roll Back portion of Grasp The Birds Tail was for folding your opponents wrist over onto your arm before you Press him forward. It's very clear to me, now, after I've read the GM's explanation and looked at the photos of him doing just that.
Man, does that look painful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I highly recommend this book to all practitioners of Yang style TCC. Clear, concise, easy to follow using words and explanations that even I can understand.
I can't give you a higher recommendation than that.
The DVD I would like to point you at is one I haven't even seen yet, but I am waiting for impatiently.
Master Yang Jun has produced a DVD of traditional Yang Cheng Fu Taijiquan. It is available on the "Products" section of the Yangfamilytaichi website.
I have been told it is being readied to ship, it may allready have since it's been a couple of weeks since I heard anything.
Follow the link off the websites from page to "Products" and see the description for yourself.
If you're looking for good instructional material, I don't think you're going to find any better than the GM's own book and Master Yang Jun's own DVD on the subject.

Posts: 184
Joined: Mon May 03, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Anderzander » Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:49 am


My own experience of the classics is that I at first took them to be metaphors or descriptions that alluded to experiences / states of being.

Subsequently I came to understand them to be (in many cases) a direct description of what to do. ie they don't descirbe what will happen when you practice correctly - they tell you what to do to practice correctly.

This may seem an obvious point and yet the meaning still be evasive Image The classics are the map.

As to how accessible they are; I was told everyone finds their own way in.

If you read and practice you'll develop some of the skill and then recognise it's description within the classics. It's like recognising a landmark from a map.

You then keep going and you will build up a few more and reach the point where you can start using the map to help you on your way.

In the beginning recognise that many things won't be clear and that an understanding can be just a reflection of your level - and not absolute at this stage.

Each translation is like a map drawn in a slightly different way - cross referencing them can help you get closer to determining the actual terrain.

The words are less important than the actual experience - and as your practice develops you will know through an intimate knowledge of the 'terrain' what the map is saying without having to go into huge depth on many of the words.

At this point you have made the map your own and much of the classics seem like a direct description and not at all cryptic.

Using the classics is to have a two pronged practice - exploring the terrain and desiphering a map.

hope that helps - and also feel free to ask specific questions of those with more experience.

[This message has been edited by Anderzander (edited 04-07-2005).]
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 6:01 am
Location: UK

Postby Kalamondin » Fri Apr 08, 2005 10:40 pm

Hi Mike,

Welcome! It’s a little difficult to answer your questions because there are so many possible paths to understanding and one person’s treasure is another person’s garbage. I too am fond of specific exercises, visualizations, etc. But when you come right down to it, I suspect there’s a reason the Classics are…well, rather vague. Yes, there are historical reasons for brevity (paper may have been expensive or hard to get), but I also think their terse style is part of a specific pedagogy: using paradox to stimulate leaps of logic.

Leaps forward in understanding are often sparked by the frustration of paradox. Zen koans are mind-stumpers designed to force the contemplator out of linear thought and into a more holistic understanding. One famous example: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Taijiquan, by its very nature, seeks to resolve paradox. An early stage distinguishes between yin with yang in order to clarify the difference, later they are united and return to the void from whence all things come/came/are.

Sure, it’s a mind-stumper. I agree…but I believe confusion is integral to the path. Confusion sparks leaps of understanding. Here’s a terrible analogy: if you hit your head against a wall enough times, eventually you’ll see stars. (Do not try this at home! Image ) Or, said differently: if a student perseveres in trying to understand TCC or the Classics or the Ten Essentials long enough, eventually they’ll get it—but learning to overcome intense frustration about not understanding is part of the training.

I understand the flip side about wanting clarity too--we’ve all been stumped—and it IS frustrating. I think it’s fine to seek out pragmatic exercises, practice tips, intents, and visualizations to further the study of TCC. These could be considered new ways of hitting that wall, so to speak—new approaches. But it’s important not to get stuck with any one particular approach. IMO, the Classics continue to be relevant because they work. There’s a methodology there that has stood the test of time. They are non-specific so that each practitioner can find their own path.

That said, there are several standard techniques in play that are a set part of the different families’ styles of teaching that can include various push hands exercises (see recent push hands discussion, for example), and intents (focus on each of the Ten Essentials or Classics while practicing). But these tend to have the flavor of allowing the practitioner to discover the principles of TCC for him or herself.

There are also non-standard techniques that various practitioners make up on their own. I do this all the time myself—I can’t help it—and have listed some of the avenues I’ve explored on the Mind Intention in TCC thread in this forum. But in spite of all this, I want be cautious about giving you really specific things to think about because an over focus on one thing can cause stagnant chi, block understanding, or even be an incorrect use of energy. For example, even something as seemingly innocuous as trying to visualize chi going to the Dan Tien can have the result of inadvertently forcing the chi there before it’s ready to go, or worse yet, can tie up one’s intention (and thus attention) in the Dan Tien and leave one’s awareness vulnerable to what the opponent is doing. If one practices contemplation of one’s navel during forms practice, it may carry over later when it comes to push hands or combat.

The Yang family does not favor practices that focus, in an intentional way, on moving the Qi around because the Qi will move naturally, of its own accord, when one is relaxing properly. That’s just its nature. For example, if a beginner notices a hand trembling, they may think it’s evidence of chi flow or fa jing power. Yes, it is evidence of increased flow, but it usually trembles because they are not relaxed enough and there are other blockages in the system. If they focus on the trembling and try to replicate it, then they are hard-wiring tension into their practice. Where the mind goes, the Qi follows. It’s OK to notice the physical signs of Qi passage, but it’s important not to pay too much attention b/c this alters the natural flow. For more information on types of relaxing in TCC, Audi had a good post on this here, dated 12-19-2004, that might give you more info on relaxing and extending the joints:

Most traditional tai chi teachers seem to teach with the philosophy that a student ought to learn the mechanics of the movements first, and then over the course of study they will eventually find the feeling of relaxation and fluidity in movement. This tends to be frustrating and the ranks of many tai chi classes thin rather quickly. There is one book I read, written by Al Chung-Liang Huang, which advocates a different approach. It’s called Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain. He guides his students to feel relaxation and joy of movement before studying the nitty-gritty details of the form so that they can have a physical sense of what they’re trying to do before they start. I’ve never seen anyone teach this way, but just reading the description of his class was fun and I can see how his approach would help people feel more comfortable moving.

Master Lam Kan Chuen has a nice book on Post Standing meditation that you may like called “The Way of Energy.” Simply standing and meditating on the classic principles of TCC can help one incorporate them. I find that allowing them to happen works better than trying to do them. I think he may address many of your questions about things to know and what things feel like. It’s not a specifically TCC text, but the author is also a TCC practitioner and there’s a great deal of overlap. He also has a couple books about TCC, but I haven’t read them yet.

Anyway, best of luck with your continuing research!

Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Mike Taylor » Sat Apr 09, 2005 3:38 pm

Hi everyone - and thankyou for your enthusiastic feedback. I will try to provide an overview of my Tai Chi journey to date and try to narrow my research viewpoint to help further posts.

I am from the UK and have been practising the Traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Long form, as taught by Grandmaster Yang Zhen Duo and Master Yang Jun, for the last 6 years. I have attended a number of the associations seminars in Europe with both Grandmaster Yang Zhen Duo and Master Yang Jun.

I guess my request for information was far reaching and too broad, and like a number of you I have learnt and practiced a number of Gong Fa (body exercise), Mind and visualisation exercises.

My research to date has also resulted in finding a number of other exercises. In the future my research will hopefully lead to writing a paper/book that has practical "How To" exercise(s)that help students in their Yang Style Tai Chi journey to realise the classics.

I suppose going forward I will need to re-focus my research on the Classics and maybe concentrate on Yang Chengfu's 10 essentials only.

So to summarise, it would be good to record practical exercises to realise each one of the essentials, and include notes on the feelings that may be present when the exercise(s) is performed well. Obviously these practical exercises should be integrated with Form and Push Hands practice/study.

Hope this helps with any future posts

Mike (UK)
Mike Taylor
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2001 6:01 am
Location: UK

Postby Anderzander » Sat Apr 09, 2005 8:30 pm


I'm in the uk too. Drop me a mail if you fancy a chat - we might be close enough to meet up?

Anderzander at ntlworld dot com
Posts: 210
Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 6:01 am
Location: UK

Postby Bamenwubu » Sat Apr 09, 2005 11:01 pm


Have you read the GM's book? How about Louis' translation of Fu Zhongwens' book? There's a lot of good training hints and help in there. Louis has a new translation of one of Yang Cheng Fu's books as well, which everyone tells me is awesome though mine hasn't arrived yet. Supposedly it went out a week ago, but I haven't received it yet.
Anyway, it's the Tai Chi Applications book. I would imagine there's going to be some good stuff in there, too.

Posts: 184
Joined: Mon May 03, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Mike Taylor » Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:03 am

Hi Bob

Like you I have all these books, including the very latest one, which again is very good.

I suppose at the ned of the day, I need to undertake painstaking book/article research to bring all the information I could use together.


Mike Taylor
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2001 6:01 am
Location: UK

Postby chris » Tue Apr 19, 2005 9:48 pm

Oh dear!

Trembling hands are no more an indication of increased flow, than sweating is an indication of a low stance!

Practicing the form most definitely will affect your natural circulation, and that is by design!

If you are "practicing" movements without intention, you are just wasting your time!

I don't know why nobody is willing to answer your request for practical supplementary exercises. I suspect I am about to find out though. Image Why not try pushing on a wall for a few minutes, then come back and share what you've learned with us?
Posts: 69
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Bamenwubu » Tue Apr 19, 2005 10:09 pm

I do believe the post you're referencing was saying basically the same thing. That "trembling hands" might be regarded as an indication, but it's really not.
Reading your post reminded me of something my mother told me and Bill about this past weekend. There was a demonstration by a school of TCC, I will NOT say who it was though I do know, where a guy was sitting in the stage in a Lotus position. He began to shake his head vigorously around and a narrator said "His chi is now in his head", then he began to shake his shoulders around and the other guy said, "His chi is now in his shoulders" and so on all the way down his body.
My mother said it was all that she could do not to laugh herself right out of her chair, but for politeness sake she kept her peace and just tried to breathe quietly through the whole thing.
Certainly nothing important, but just kind of funny.


[This message has been edited by Bamenwubu (edited 04-19-2005).]
Posts: 184
Joined: Mon May 03, 2004 6:01 am
Location: Frankfort, KY, USA

Postby Kalamondin » Wed Apr 20, 2005 1:05 am

I’m sorry Chris, I don’t think I explained myself well in the post you reference above, so let me try again.

You said: <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>
Trembling hands are no more an indication of increased flow, than sweating is an indication of a low stance! </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think that trembling hands can be a clue to the passage of increased chi flow—like a hanging sign on a post, flapping in the wind, after a big truck blows by—but trembling hands are certainly not a goal of practice. When a beginner starts out, their hands may be fine and still. At some point during the “hot” phase of tai chi chuan practice when the dan tien starts to heat up and increase chi circulation, some beginners experience sensations like trembling, physical warmth, and sweating. These are not indications of skill, they are indications that the body is beginning to adapt to a new level of energy and “burn off” impurities in the chi. So the trembling is a bit like when a pot lid shakes and rattles when the water is boiling. The pot lid is analogous to a chi blockage that keeps the chi from flowing smoothly where it wants to go. If it’s removed, the steam rises unimpeded. Without blockages, a tai chi chuan practitioners hands can move smoothly and evenly. This is a very rough explanation and I’m certainly no expert in TCM or TJQ, so I could be wrong.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B> Practicing the form most definitely will affect your natural circulation, and that is by design!

If you are "practicing" movements without intention, you are just wasting your time! </B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I basically agree with this too. When I said “Where the mind goes, the Qi follows. It’s OK to notice the physical signs of Qi passage, but it’s important not to pay too much attention b/c this alters the natural flow.” I was trying to say that one shouldn’t pay too much attention to any trembling sensation that arises. People should practice with intention—but it’s important for them to know what their intention is. If their focus is on doing the movement correctly, that’s good. But if they are focusing on their trembling hands, then they may not be focusing on guiding the application with their mind. They will be distracted by the physical symptoms. For example, I think it would be hard to release chi from the correct energy point in a punch with the right fist if that person were focusing on the left hand trembling. If the mind is focused on the trembling part, then the mind is not likely paying attention to what the whole body is doing.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Why not try pushing on a wall for a few minutes, then come back and share what you've learned with us?</font>

I actually find pushing on walls very useful as a practical supplementary exercise. No they don’t move much, but they’re good for checking physical alignment and looking for areas of tension or areas of insufficient pung energy.

Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:01 am

Postby Audi » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:10 am

Greetings all,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I don't know why nobody is willing to answer your request for practical supplementary exercises. I suspect I am about to find out though.</font>

Who can resist such a challenge?

I suppose the easy answer to the question is that the form and push hands drills are themselves the supplementary exercises that help to understand the principles described in the classics. One approach is to break down the form in order to understand how it embodies the principles.

I do not know what theory of teaching that Yang Zhenduo and Yang Jun use, but what I project onto their teach is the following. The essence of Taijiquan is based on principles and is formless. In other words, the important part is internal. Because of this, there is no way to teach or learn merely by external patterns and imitation. To remedy this, they seem always to teach some theory first, before doing anything else.

The problem with teaching theory first is that it is difficult to understand deep theory without practical experience. To remedy this, they teach standard patterns that have two distinct teaching purposes. First, the patterns give examples of how principle and theory should be externalized in various situations. By studying these, you can come to understand the theory better.

Once you reach a certain level of mastery in the standard patterns, one can revisit the theory directly and peel back a layer of the “onion” to understand the theory and the principles more clearly. With this new understanding, you can refine the standard patterns and begin to use them for the second purpose. This purpose is to provide a safe framework within which to actually use the principles and theories. In other words, they provide a medium for exploring and practicing the principles in the same way that water provides a medium within which to swim. To swim, you need both certain motions and water. To do Taijiquan, you need both external form and internal principle.

I think the difficulty of such a journey is one of the reasons why personal teaching and long practice are both stressed so strongly. Without approaching the goal from various angles and without using a sustained attack, it is hard to achieve much.

Despite our best efforts, this journey still proves frustrating and often elusive. A particular worry is whether we properly understand the principles that guide our first step on the “thousand-mile journey.” If this step is aimed in the wrong direction, we risk missing our destination by a huge amount. I think that this is the context in which the question posed on this thread becomes most pressing.

I think that every practitioner and every teacher has his or her own way of visualizing the basic principles. Learning and teaching styles differ, and I doubt that that the same exercises or practical tips will work for the same people. For me, the best ones are the ones that relate most closely to the form and the push hands drills. Here are a few of mine.

“Loosen up the waist”

If you know the vertical four-hand circle, try doing it on your knees with your knees slightly overlapping those of your partner. From this position, it is impossible to mistake ankle and knee movement for waist movement. Do not, however, do a lot of this to start off, because the newness of the movement may put demands on your lower back muscles that they cannot tolerate.

“Sink the shoulders and droop the elbows”

Assume the best push posture you can and have your partner push on the outside edge of your palms in an effort to collapse your arms. If he or she succeeds, your elbows are probably pointed toward the outside. If he or she does not succeed or merely pushes you in a slide along the floor, this is good. To understand what is bad, try this variation. Assume the same posture, but flair both elbows so that they both point horizontally toward the outside. In this position, your partner should be able to collapse your arms. The difference in the feel of both postures should be dramatic.

As with anything, there are downsides to this exercise. One is that one can achieve arms that will not collapse by locking the elbows and making the palms flat, as if pushing on a wall. Although this is a strong position, it is strong in only one specific vector and can easily be undone with only a slight change in the direction the force is applied. If you have tendency toward this, try doing the same exercise but with a pronounced bend in the elbows, you should again experience dramatic differences according to whether the elbows are sinking the Qi downward or scattering it to the sides.

Another drawback is that people can think that the elbows must always point straight down. To peel back one layer, consider where the elbows begin close to the body in the Push Posture of the form. If one maintains space under the armpits, it is impossible for the elbows to point straight downward. Also notice that the circular push in the horizontal one-hand push hand drill also requires somewhat different elbow placement. Although you always want to sink your Qi, you need to mobilize your power in more ways than simply up and down.

To peel back another layer, consider the right elbow in Fan through the Back. It actually points somewhat upward; but even here, a small difference in how the shoulder is held can completely separate the power in the shoulder from the movement of the waist. It should feel as if the shoulder is down enough so that the twisting of the body can give pulling strength to the right arm.

To peel back yet another layer, consider Brush Left Knee, Cloud Hands, or Cross Hands. All of these postures have movements where an arm performs a vertical circling motion. The problem is that having the elbows down on the descending portion of the circle must necessarily be different from how they will be on the ascending portion. The changeover point requires motion in both the elbow and the shoulder that must be fairly precise.

“Loosening/Relaxing” (“Fangsong”)

What the Yangs teach is that power comes from loosening the joints to unify the body’s energy. In theory, nothing more is required. To feel this, try standing with the feet parallel and shoulder width. Extend both arms and make fists in what you believe is a loose/relaxed fashion. Without bending either wrist, elbow, or shoulder, you should be able to punch very hard with either fist merely by using your “loosened waist.” No local contraction of your arm muscles is necessary. The punch will travel only two or three inches, but be very powerful. Again, be gentle with this if you have not trained in this kind of way before.

If your arms are too limp, no unification will take place and your waist power will be of no use. If your arms are too stiff, this will interfere with the flow of power. If you have difficulty in keeping from bending your elbows or shoulders, this is because your mind is thinking of a punch as a local movement that requires local storage of Jin. You are not recognizing or making use of the Jin already stored in your waist and torso.

When I do this exercise correctly, I have zero feeling of squeezing the muscles in my arms; on the other hand, holding my fingers in a fist shape requires some muscular exertion in my forearms. If I squeeze my fists tightly, the tightness travels up from forearms into my upper arms and then interferes with the free motion of my shoulder. For every quarter inch that one fist moves forward, the other fist moves backward. The movement of both arms is organically linked with no effort on my part. There is no sense of coordinating the arms, since they are simply linked through the back.

By the way, I deliberately chose a “power” example to illustrate the principle of “loosening/relaxing” to disassociate it from notions of effortlessness. This too has a place within the theory, but in my opinion it is not correct for the Yangs teaching methods to see “loosening/relaxation” as directly related to the level of muscle use.

“Use mind intent, not force” and “hold in the chest and pull up the back”

If you find the previous exercise helpful, you will have experienced an example of how the way in which your mind relates to your body matters more than how much you squeeze the muscles in your arm. To make the exercise successful, you cannot rely simply on punching “harder,” you must first learn to apply your mind correctly. Once your apply your mind correctly, you are not constrained in the amount of power your generate. “Power” (“Jin”) is enabled by your mind intent (“Yi”), not by “force” (“Li”).

Another thing you must do is to “hold in the chest and pull up the back.” Try doing the exercise with your chest puffed out and your shoulders drawn back. You will see that it simply does not work, since the arms are no longer unified with the torso, the waist, and each other.

Do these suggestions make sense or prove useful in illustrating the theory? If they do, I would suggest actually abandoning them, since I do not consider them training methods, but only ways of illustrating certain points. To train the principles, I would suggest looking for the same feelings in various postures of the form and push hands drills. They should be everywhere, but sometimes in disguised form. Sometimes they are clearer in one posture than in another.

If these suggestions make no sense or do not prove useful, I would suggest that you challenge my understanding with some friendly prodding and questioning. I would love to learn more and be corrected. On the other hand, if you wonder whether I may be on to something, but cannot get it to work for you, describe what doesn’t work or ask about whatever is not clear.

Take care,
Posts: 1205
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 7:01 am
Location: New Jersey, USA


Return to Tai Chi Theory and Principles

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests