The Tai Chi (TaiJi) BODY
Your body must be trained so that it can obey the mind's directives of intention. If you are out of shape, you cannot endure the rigors and demands that your mind requires of it for success. A body that resides in a state of imbalance will get tired too fast to stay ahead of the pack. It will get sick, causing too many days lost from work and career. It will get weak, preventing the ability to continue in the face of adversity.
Your body must be brought into a state of excited balance; alive, vibrant, strong and full of abundant energy, devoid of stagnation and disease. Regular practice of Tai Chi will gradually develop a cohesive strength of all the body's tissues. The immunity system will be bolstered and the structure will become more resistant to damage.
For the practitioner, learning the Tai Chi routine is like learning a self-teaching encyclopedia of proper kinetic motion, and of the correct method of breathing. The Long Form is also a repository of Tai Chi's martial techniques. The central issue in learning to apply Tai Chi technique is the regular practice of the "Chan-Ssu Chin" or "silk reeling energy." One must learn to move the body as a coherent unit by originating all movements from Dan Tien and spiraling this energy outward to all arm and leg movements.
Regular practice of "Chan-Ssu Chin" will gradually develop the ability in the practitioner to adhere to these principles intuitively and directly. After a time, the practitioner be able to engage in a self-study of how the Tai Chi routine explicitly and systematically demonstrates the myriad possibilities that exist.
A easy example of Tai Chi's cohesive body mechanics is found in the posture "Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar", where the descending fist strikes the open palm as the foot stamps on the ground. An archetype of complex circularity can be seen "Hand and Arm Covering Fist." Here the left control arm, the torso, the right arm and the fist are all wound together, bringing the control arm out while the right fist is brought back beside the right ribs, "covered." The coiling kinetic energy is then released, like an arrow from a bow, drawing the control arm (bow) back while the right fist (arrow) spirals forward with all the energy of the unwinding torso in it.
The possible combinations in the long form are seemingly endless owing to a large variety of kicks and punches that go to varied and vigorous degrees. From leaping into the air with a 360 degree twist to going all the way to the ground with a full frontal leg split. Other segments of the Chen tai chi routine are composed of slow, moderate movements with occasional explosions of fast "shaking" movements, whose outer purpose may seem obscure to the non-initiated. Never-the-less, within the body, the principles of Chan Ssu-Chin are being applied and adhered to invisibly.
Coordinating breathing with the movements is a study in itself. There are two types of breath control applied to tai chi practice, matched and un-matched breathing. Matched style breathing is for development of martial power and ability. Its basic rhythm is emphasized quite well in Posture four, "Six Sealing and Four Closing," which appears seven times in the long form routine. In this posture, the hands are brought down and out from behind the ears during a slow exhalation, after having first performed a re-directive motion during the inhalation. Performance of matched breathing is feasible only after the practitioner has sufficient understanding of the applications of the form. Prior to this stage, practice of un-matched breathing is advised. This style is simply one of breathing fully and deeply at no predetermined point of the form regardless of technique. Simply find your own natural rhythm and relax throughout the practice session.
The concept of "Double weighting," is largely misinterpreted by most modern practitioners as the balancing of the body's weight between the two legs equally, or 50/50. Actually, the practitioner becomes "Double weighted" at the time when he/she can no longer maintain a proper connection to the ground and has lost the ability to Fah Jing, or issue energy. This condition would then make a quick and powerful response impossible. It should be obvious that a 50/50 weighted condition will occur in the routine at all points where there is a transitional stage between two postures.
The routine makes frequent and clear shifts of motion from vigorous to soft, soft to quick, slow to powerful and relaxed to firm, making it possible for a student to observe and gain a gradual awareness of the many varieties of change between yin and yang, empty and full, and how they are efficiently made.
In the style of the first Lu (routine), the body must lead the hands. All motion must originate from Dan Tien, coiling and uncoiling in a thoroughly connected manner. The practitioner must forget about using the arms and any localized muscular strength and allow the hands to follow the spirals generated by the body. In this way the practitioner will attain the ability of continuous cyclical change. This will in turn make the emergence and waning of Yin and Yang in the body more apparent.
Following is a list of the posture names of the first routine of the Chen Style method of training the body.
The first Lu (form) of Chen's Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan):
1. Preparing Form
2. Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar
3. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
4. Six Sealing and Four Closing
5. Single Whip
6. Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar
7. White Crane Spreads Wings
8. Walk Obliquely and Twist Step
9. The First Closing
10. Kick forward and Twist Step
11. Second Walk Obliquely and Twist Step
12. The Second Closing
13. Kick Forward and Twist Step
14. Hand and Arm Covering Fist
15. Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar
16. Chop Opponent with Fist
17. Bending Back and Shoulder Strike
18. Blue Dragon Flies Up From Water
19. Push with Both Hands
20. Change Palms Three Times
21. Fist Under Elbow
22. Step Back and Whirl Arms on Both Sides
23. Step Backward and Press Elbow
24. Middle Winding
25. White Crane Spreads Wings
26. Walk Obliquely and Twist Step
27. Flash the Back
28. Hand and Arm Covering Fist
29. Six Sealing and Four Closing
30. Single Whip
31. Waving Hands like Clouds
32. High Pat on Horse
33. Rub With Right foot
34. Rub With Left foot
35. Kick with Left Heel
36. Kick Forward and Twist Step
37. Punch of Hitting the Ground
38. Jump and Kick Twice
39. Animal Head Posture
40. Hurricane Kick
41. Kick with Right Heel
42. Hand and Arm Covering Fist
43. Small Grasp and Hit
44. Cover Head and Push Mountain
45. Change Palms Three Times
46. Six Sealing and Four Closing
47. Single Whip
48. Forward Trick
49. Backward Trick
50. Part the Wild Horse's Mane On Both Sides<
51. Six Sealing and Four Closing
52. Single Whip
53. Shake Both Feet
54. Fair Lady works at Shuttles
55. Grasp Sparrow's Tail
56. Six Sealing and Four Closing
57. Single Whip
58. Waving Hands like Clouds
59. Shake Foot and Stretch Down
60. Stand on one leg on Both Sides
61. Step Back and Whirl Arms on Both Sides
62. Step Back and Press elbow
63. Middle Winding
64. White Crane Spreads Wings
65. Walk Obliquely and Twist Step
66. Flash the Back
67. Hand and Arm Covering Fist
68. Six Sealing and Four Closing
69. Single Whip
70. Waving Hands like Clouds
71. High Pat on Horse
72. Cross Hands and Sweep Lotus
73. Punch Opponent's Groin
74. White Ape Offers Fruits
75. Six Sealing and Four Closing
76. Single Whip
77. The Dragon on the Ground
78. Step Forward With Seven Stars
79. Step Back to Mount the Tiger
80. Turn Around and Sweep Lotus
81. The Cannon Right Overhead
82. Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar
83. Closing Form
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