How to increase the internal energy in taichi

How to increase the internal energy in taichi

Postby outsky2006 » Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:46 am

I have a question about internal energy in taichi. I practice taichi for about three years. I have some shallow understandings about the five bows theory, sinking chi to dantian and using dantain to propell the body, and the spiral force. However, for a year I find that I have no improvement in internal enery. I stuck in this level, and cannot move on. I can feel my chi, but it does not get stronger. What can I do to improve? Thank you for your advices.

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-15-2006).]

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-15-2006).]

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-15-2006).]
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Postby shugdenla » Sat Dec 16, 2006 6:51 pm

outski,

What style of taijiquan are you studying?
How do you develop gong in your training? Per your teachers' instruction.
How many repetitions do you do daily?
Do you do individual posture training?
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Postby Simon Batten » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:12 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by outsky2006:
<B>
I have a question about internal energy in taichi. I practice taichi for about three years. I have some shallow understandings about the five bows theory, sinking chi to dantian and using dantain to propell the body, and the spiral force. However, for a year I find that I have no improvement in internal enery. I stuck in this level, and cannot move on. I can feel my chi, but it does not get stronger. What can I do to improve? Thank you for your advices.

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-15-2006).]

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-15-2006).]

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-15-2006).]</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, Outsky, please let me preface what follows by saying that I am no expert in either the external or internal aspects of Tai Chi, so that what follows is strictly from a very personal perspective, based on my own experience of practising the form and the apparent 'Chi' feelings resulting from it, according to circumstances. But from my own experience, I have to say that if I concentrate too much on Chi propulsion during my form practise, the Chi is lost. There is obviously much truth in what the Tai Chi Classics have to say about this, namely that 'If the Mind is on the Chi, there is no essential hardness'. I would suggest therefore that in order to generate and feel Chi, one should forget about Chi altogether, and just concentrate on co-ordinated breathing and on applications during Form practice. Yin (defence) = In breath, and Yang (offence) = out breath. Obviously, the breathing is controlled, and the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, not by the lungs. In effect, one is breathing from the stomach, not the lungs. The Tai Chi Classics state that the breathing should be 'fine, slow, long and profound'. Of all of these, again just from my own personal experience, the hardest to master is the 'fine': the rest is relatively easy. But not to gulp huge breaths and to breathe really finely, but at the same time profoundly, during Form practice: that is really, really difficult and takes a lot of practice. Reverting to diaphragm breathing, I used to play the flute and I was taught to use the same diaphragm breathing for controlling the out-breath in long passages where the music was played without breaths. A good way to practise this is to lie on the floor and pile several heavy books on your stomach. When you breathe in, the stomach contracts, and when you breath out - and this is the important bit - the stomach expands, controlling the out-breath for as long as you wish it to be controlled. This is a remarkable case of 'parallel evolution'. 'Reverse breathing' (as this is) in Chinese martial arts has no parallel in Western martial arts, but is taken for granted amongst opera singers and players of woodwind and brass instruments! I believe that everyone's 'Chi feelings' differ according to the individual. I can only say that in my own case, I experience a tremendous warming of the face and the palms of the hands, as well as the whole body,from the inside out, but particularly those two areas. It might be different for other indivdiduals. But I find that if I concentrate too much on Chi transmission, and I don't let my mind just focus on breathing and applications (i.e. intention), then these feelings of warmth are much reduced. Are you familiar with the Taoist meditational breathing of combining your pre-natal breath with your post-natal breath? I regard this as a really essential preparation for breathing properly during Tai Chi Form practice. Well, therefore, in summary, I'm afraid I can't offer a hard and fast answer to your question. But I would suggest that in order to restore your 'Chi' feelings in your case (however they individually manifest themselves), you could at least try concentrating on breathing and intention, rather than 'leading' your Chi. I would add, finally, that the position of the fingers is of course of key importance. Maybe you had that right in the past, but maybe now your fingers have drifted too close together or too far apart. I'm afraid I can offer no further opinions on this subject, but I hope that this 'personal perspective' helps. Kind regards, S.B.
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Postby outsky2006 » Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:06 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by shugdenla:
<B>outski,

What style of taijiquan are you studying?
How do you develop gong in your training? Per your teachers' instruction.
How many repetitions do you do daily?
Do you do individual posture training?</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

shugdenla, thank you for replying my question. I practice both Chen and Yang style. I currently and personally more prefer Yang because it is simple big and soft.
When I am trying to practice, I will first calm down my mind, and relax my muscles.
Secondly I adjust my body posture. Pulling back my mingmen gentlely, so my head and tailbone pull in opposite direction, making my backbone straight elated and elastic. Then my shoulders and hips should automatically sink and bend a little bit forward. My elbow and knee will bend making my arms and legs like elastic bows. This posture can make the whole body's bones connected as one and become elastic. It also helps increasing my abdomen's space, which can help to sink down my chi. I can feel my chi sinking to dantian, when I relax my abdomen muscle. I feel that when muscles are relaxing, chi will fill in the space between my tissues. It is a kind of inflated feeling. When I want to move, my dantian will move first which pulls the mingmen, which pulls the elastic back bone, which will give a pressure on my arms and legs bows. My arms and legs also feel inflated at the same time. In taichi, most moves contain up and down, back and forth, left and right, and spinning motions, so my dantian will spin from up to down, or from back to force, vice versa, leading my whole body's movements. I practice both fast and slow, big and small, eventhough I know I am not good enough to practice small hight stance and quick movement. I feel the slow movement and low big stance is more difficult, but quick movement and high stance is more useful in fighting, though I never fight or push hand. I learned from master luo's students in Edmonton, Canada. Now i cannot learn from my master because I move out to a small town.
Everyday, I spend most of my taichi time on single movement practice which I think is more useful to understand the essense. But I will do the whole forms two or three times a week.
The above are my current understanding of taichi. I hope you can correct my mistakes, and show me how to improve. Thank you shugdenla. Thank you for you advices, simon, I will reply you as soon as possible.

outsky

[This message has been edited by outsky2006 (edited 12-21-2006).]
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Postby outsky2006 » Thu Dec 21, 2006 12:37 am

Simon Batten:
Thank you very much for your detailed explanations and advices. I really appreciated them.
I agree your opinion that we should not focus on chi directly, although there is a classic saying that "using mind/intention to control the chi, and chi will control the body". My master taught me that it is actually to use the mind to control the emotion, breathing and body postures, which will generate chi automatically. and the chi can propell the body. We should only be aware chi's feeling, but not control or try to grab it really hard.
Thank you for showing me the reverse breathing practice. I think it is really useful. Reverse breathing is especially evident in the quick hard movements in Chen style, fa jing. In Yang style, open and close are really important concepts. I agree with you that when we close (defence), we breath in, and when we open (attack), we breath out. However, I personally think that it is difficult to separate attack and defence in taichi. Taichi means the combination of yin and yang, the continuing change between yin and yang, and yang contains yin, and yin contains yang. Open can be used as fense off or attack, close can be used as defense or a pull. It is often that when left hand goes out, right hand goes back; when left goes up, right hand goes down, and vice versa.

I am not sure the meaning of combining prenatal breathing and postnatal breathing. To my understanding, in Chinese medicine, prenatal chi means the energy/ or health condition passed from parents, and this chi is stored in the kidney and reproductive systems. In western medicine terms, it may be the hormones and proteins produced and determined by genes. Postnatal chi means the energy we get from food, and breathing. In western terms, it may be nutrients and O2. I have no idea of how to combine them using meditation. I really want to listen to your opinion.

I will tell my personal opinion on the hotness of chi. My understanding is very limited, and I only mean to share it for fun with Taichi friends. In Chinese medicine, Chi can be divided into yin and yang. Yin chi is cold, and yang chi is hot. When an organ's yin is overactive, or yang is underactive, internal cold will result. When an organ's yang is overactive, or yin is underactive, internal heat will result. Chinese medicine tries to use acupuncture and herbs to restore to balance of yin and yang in the body. I think balance is the most important thing. Taichi is the balance state of yin and yang. In a similar way, japanese internal martial art Aikido, also means the combination of yin chi and yang chi. According to Chinese medicine, hotness in the face can be produced by the overactivity of the yang of the heart, or the ren meridian, and the underactivity of the yin of heart, kidney and liver, or the du meridian. Of course there are more conditions. When I first began to practice yang style, my face is warm and a little red, but after I practiced more on sinking chi to dantian, and the adjustment of my back, the warmth on the face went away. Of course this is only my personal and current understanding. I don't have much experience in both internal martial art and chinese medicine.

I am always fascinated by the legendary skills acquired by those famous internal martial artists, such as the Yang's family, chen's family, sun lutang, O sensei, and much more. I am no where near them. I even have no idea of how I can acquire their skills. While I feel my body is more elastic and chi filling than before, I cannot imagine how it can produce the internal power demonstrated by those famous masters. I really like to discuss this kind of issure with taichi lovers, and to learn from others. Thank you very much, Simon.
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Postby Bob Ashmore » Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:54 pm

Outsky,
There is only way to gain the skills of the Masters.
It takes a LONG time. There are no shortcuts.
It's the same answer to the question: "How do I get to Carnagie Hall?". The only answer that matters is "practice, practice, practice".
Yang Zhen Duo makes it very clear when he says, "Practice harder".

Bob
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Postby Simon Batten » Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:40 pm

Outsky: thanks a lot for your reply. I'm interested by what you say about the warmth of the face being perhaps due to a Yin/Yang imbalance, and as a matter of fact, coincidentally, I'm feeling less of that nowadays in my form practice and I think the reason is that I'm now breathing more finely, as well as slow, long and profound, and the 'fine' element has regulated that feeling. Luckily, though, I can still practise outside on a cold day with just a T shirt and sweatshirt on top, and I soon warm up. Just as an interesting aside, when I practise the sword form, the warming seems to have a delayed onset, but lasts much longer after stopping. I wonder why that might be? Perhaps it's to do with the 'secret sword fingers' helping to concentrate the chi in the hand that is holding the sword, but I'm not sure. Turning to prenatal breathing, I'd like to try and assist with a quotation from Chapter 4 ('The Tao of Breathing') from Da Liu's book 'Tai Chi And Meditation'. Da Liu says:
'The concepts of prenatal and postnatal breathing occur in Taoist writings and are also represented in diagrams ... The underlying idea is as follows. Before birth, the embryo does not need to inhale and exhale, for the breath is circulated through its body from the mother. The oxygen-rich blood comes to it through the umbilical cord and enters its abdomen at the navel. Thus prenatal breathing is done through the abdomen. After birth, of course, this method of breathing is no longer available as the umbilical cord is severed. Thereafter, a person must rely on breathing through the lungs, which is called postnatal breathing. Most people only breathe with the throat and lungs, so the prenatal breath hides in the abdomen, never joining the postnatal breath again. This capability plays a role in the practice of meditation, however, and so meditation and T'ai Chi Chuan may be said to bring about a union of prenatal and postnatal breathing. That is, during inhalation, as the medidator is drawing the postnatal breath down into the lungs and down to the navel, the prenatal breath rises up from the lower abdomen, where it joins together with the postnatal breath. During exhalation, as the postnatal breath rises up out of the lungs, the postnatal breath sinks down again to the lower abdominal region ...'
In his instructions for 'Navel and Tan-T'ien Breathing', Da Liu says
'This technique can be practised in the sitting, standing, walking or sleeping posture. It can be done anywhere and as often as you wish. Inhale, using your mind to draw in oxygen and fetal breathing to the navel. Then use your mind to carry the chi down to the tan-t'ien. Hold it there for one minute or more. Then exhale. When you feel that your whole body is relaxed, inhale. Use your mind to bring the chi through the tan-t'ien (the lower abdomen to the back, then up to the top of the head and down to the mouth. (As saliva accumulates in your mouth, swallow it and send it to the abdomen). Then exhale again and continue to practice. After practicing this exercise for a short time, your whole body will feel relaxed and warm. You will also be able to hear the sound of gargling in your abdomen.'

Personally, I find the lying down position the best for this, lying on my right side with the right leg outstretched and the left foot placed just behind the calf of the right leg. The right hand is under the right cheek, and the left arm is extended down the left side and the wrist and hand are draped over the left hip. Once this breathing became natural enough that I didn't have to think about it, I was in a position to apply it in Form practice. It is very purifying.

I too, wonder at the tales of the ancient Masters. I like the story of the Master who had developed his chi to such a point that his bones were as hard as steel. One day he went into a courtyard of someone's house and a dog ran up and bit his leg. The dog then ran away howling in agony. The Master was unharmed, but later, the dog's teeth were discovered lying on the ground where it had bit the Master: that's how hard the Master's shin bone was! I also like the story of the ancient Taoist meditator who was able to use meditation to regrow his own teeth!!! Kind regards and compliments of the season, Simon.
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Postby T » Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:46 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
<B>Outsky,
There is only way to gain the skills of the Masters.
It takes a LONG time. There are no shortcuts.
It's the same answer to the question: "How do I get to Carnagie Hall?". The only answer that matters is "practice, practice, practice".
Yang Zhen Duo makes it very clear when he says, "Practice harder".

Bob</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As did Yang Chengfu, Tung Ying Chieh, Chen Fake, and as does Chen Xiao Wang, Chen Zhenglei and many others

Staying with in Yang style it is possible you need to, as pretty much already said, think less and relax and to quote Tung

"After a while, the learning will become easier. Sometimes a student feels good at first, then after a few months, some may begin to feel as if they are not improving and lose their patience. Realize that this also may be a sign of improvement. Be patient and in time you will work through it. Beginners go through many stages, let each stage be a learning experience. -- Tung Ying Chieh "
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Postby T » Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:47 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bob Ashmore:
<B>Outsky,
There is only way to gain the skills of the Masters.
It takes a LONG time. There are no shortcuts.
It's the same answer to the question: "How do I get to Carnagie Hall?". The only answer that matters is "practice, practice, practice".
Yang Zhen Duo makes it very clear when he says, "Practice harder".

Bob</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As did Yang Chengfu, Tung Ying Chieh, Chen Fake, and as does Chen Xiao Wang, Chen Zhenglei and many others

Staying with in Yang style it is possible you need to, as pretty much already said, think less and relax and to quote Tung

“After a while, the learning will become easier. Sometimes a student feels good at first, then after a few months, some may begin to feel as if they are not improving and lose their patience. Realize that this also may be a sign of improvement. Be patient and in time you will work through it. Beginners go through many stages, let each stage be a learning experience. -- Tung Ying Chieh”
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Postby shugdenla » Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:32 pm

outsky,

Sometimes I think that chi/qi clouds the issue of proper practice keeping in mind that your depth of practice will better the quality of qi. That is why is say so many times that forget about qi. It works by itself!

What does your teacher say on the matter?
If he taught you and you are not experiencing the benefit, then perhaps another trainign view may be needed. There is a big gap between what you are now experienceing and what you should be?

Maybe more gong practice instead of form practice! Just guessing as it is hard to gauge through this format.
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Postby chris » Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:42 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by outsky2006:
I have a question about internal energy in taichi. I practice taichi for about three years. I have some shallow understandings about the five bows theory, sinking chi to dantian and using dantain to propell the body, and the spiral force. However, for a year I find that I have no improvement in internal enery. I stuck in this level, and cannot move on. I can feel my chi, but it does not get stronger. What can I do to improve? Thank you for your advices.</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

What are the specific indications that it is not getting stronger?

-----
Chris
www.martialdevelopment.com
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Postby Audi » Thu Dec 28, 2006 2:17 am

Greetings Outsky,

You seem to have gotten some interesting and varied advice. From your posts, you also seem to have a fairly deep grasp of many principles. Given that, I am not sure what I could add.

There were few things that did strike me from your posts. Perhaps, my comments might be helpful.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">for a year I find that I have no improvement in internal enery. </font>


I think a focus on internal energy is very good and is one of the essential questions for everyone.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I can feel my chi, but it does not get stronger. What can I do to improve?</font>


I find talk of strengthening chi/qi always to be a little strange, not only for the reasons other posters have given for not focusing on qi, but because I do not think "strengthening qi" is a direct focus of Yang Style. I think the initial focus should be on learning to let the qi flow in an unobstructed way. Some people use terms like "strengthening" loosely to mean unblocking the flow, but I think the distinction is very important.

If you eat an apple, you have more qi. If you lift weights, you will generate more qi. Are these activities, however, very relevant for improving your Taijiquan? For me, the difference between increasing my qi and letting it flow more freely is fundamental. The former happens naturally by learning to do the latter and doing it repeatedly over time.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I practice both Chen and Yang style. I currently and personally more prefer Yang because it is simple big and soft.</font>


You state that you prefer Yang Style, but when you list the main principles you try to adhere to, I find little of Yang Chengfu there. Do you do some other type of Yang Style? Aren't the principles you list more from Chen Style than Yang Style?

It is not that I find the principles incorrect, but rather I do not see many of the principles that are stressed in the Association. (E.g., the Ten Essentials) If you are not satisfied with your progress, could it be that you are not prioritizing the right principles?

As I review your list, everything seems like some version of mainstream Taijiquan; however, the only two statements I would accept without qualification for the specific flavor of Yang Style Taijiquan as practiced by Yang Jun and Yang Zhenduo are: "I will first calm down my mind" and "I feel the slow movement and low big stance is more difficult." All the other ones seem to take a slightly different approach to the theory than what I understand.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Everyday, I spend most of my taichi time on single movement practice which I think is more useful to understand the essense. But I will do the whole forms two or three times a week.</font>


Why do you think single movement practices if more useful to understand the essence? There are certainly practitioners who de-emphasize the form, but I do not think of this is a mainstream view. If you do not have close access to a good teacher and practice the form only two or three times a week, I think it will be hard to make good progress.

In my view, the best use of Yang Chengfu's form is to learn and internalize the principles of Tai Chi movement and to deepen understanding of the Ten Essentials. On the other hand, single movement practice with a partner is good for practicing applications and learning variations, especially after you have a good foundation in Push Hands. Single movement practice by yourself is a good way of understanding the requirements of certain postures and to practice them extensively.

Are you familiar with the Ten Essentials? I judge my progress by whether I increase my level of insight into them. They seem simple, but I believe each of them has quite amount of depth and subtle implications for the movement theory.

I hope this is helpful.

Take care,
Audi
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