Ideal Frame of Mind When your Tai-Chi is purposeless … free of the impulse to hit or force or employ it as a combat form the greater it will become. They wrote in the old texts that it is a way of approaching Wu-Chi. ‘Way’ meaning road. Wu-Chi translates into English as ‘ultimate or limitless amount of supremacy’ or perfection. Tai-Chi is a road to Wu-Chi…it is a Wu Chi Tao. A Si-Fu (master of Wu Chi Tao) is a Wu Chi Tao. As we learn to perfect the Tai Chi moves and the exercises or set moves are more & more exercising YinYang inside ourselves, the closer we are approaching to Wu Chi. Tai-Chi then becomes very useful. Useful & Useless The Chinese think differently about when things are useless or useful. If a cup is empty, they think of it as more useful because you can put anything you want in it. If the cup is full, they think of it as useless because all of the other potential uses of it no longer exist…until it is emptied. If you strive to only use Tai-Chi, as taught in our classes, to exercise YinYang inside yourself, it will definitely be more useful to you and others. The more it is used for say combat the more useless it becomes for anything other than combat. For your Tai-Chi to be more useful, you should treat your body and your interaction with others like a gym with all sorts of uses; rather than a weapon that has only one use…to over- power the opponent. They say in the classics that in push-hands play it is infinitely greater to try to keep to the principle of soft yielding to your opponent’s pressure and lose over & over; than to employ force to win the game ..because you have denied yourself the opportunity to practice a yielding, soft yinyang balancing hand. To exercise YinYang inside your body will be very useful.
Chi has two meanings. When we play Tai-Chi there is only enough tension in the muscles & tendons to create form but not enough to squeeze tight. This allows for the free passage of chi - the fluid internal movement of weight - that can be generated & propelled through your body very slowly or very quickly. You will feel chi movement within 6 to 18 months of regular, correct daily practice. This is the chi we move in Tai-Chi. The word chi is also used to name the body’s energy - but this is not the same stuff we work with and shape in Tai-Chi practice. The chi that we move internally when playing Tai-Chi is weight not energy. Many schools and books teach that they are moving the body’s energy chi, but that is an impossibility. This misunderstanding is the result of mis-appropriation or mis-translation of the word chi language - which suits the purposes of the esoteric school of thought who have hijacked the art, overlaying a mystic belief over the pure art. To strive to propel the chi-energy outside or inside our body is a fruitless endeavour. To strive to propel the chi-weight inside your body will yield results & bring benefit.
About Tai-Chi Tai-Chi means Grand Ultimate. The man character depicts the idea that it is as much as a man can hold. Insert character. Tai-Chi Chuan means Grand Ultimate Fist – which is popular for softening the hands & actions of Karate & Kung-Fu practitioners. It brings refinement and sensitivity to their more ridged powers and bringing a more yielding type of tactical approach to their combat skills. Tai-Chi Chuan is very popular in China and increasingly in the west. It is played as a gentle, early morning exercise form. It has mass appeal as an external exercise form but many who practice are unaware of how to get the internal dynamics of Tai-Chi working. Even without applying yourself to develping the internal aspects of the art - is none-the-less a very good exercise . Those who know true Tai-Chi say the Chuan players are forming the cup…but they no tea inside the cup. In this saying the cup denotes the Tai-Chi form or movements (external shape changes) and the tea denotes the actual Tai-Chi (building the internal dynamic changes). If two people stood beside each other and played Tai-Chi movements; one striving to build the internal aspects of Tai-Chi, while the other merely plays the external form without building the internal – to the untrained eye they look the same; but to those who have tai-chi operating internally, they can see a world of difference. Each use of Tai-Chi has its limitation. Combat Tai-Chi is of no use to the frail or passive; while the popular empty Tai-Chi Chuan is of limited value to a person wanting to build the internal aspects of Tai- Chi. Mind-Body Sync YinYang Tai-Chi is an enjoyable and fascinating discipline. As much as you want to put in, is as much as you will get out of it. It demands total involvement and produces total integration of the mind and body. You will be able to express different Tai-Chi mental attitudes perfectly through your Tai-Chi movements. So that a change of idea will be reflected or felt in the YinYang qualities & characteristics inside your moves. The physical attitudes or movement characteristics will also exert an influence of that character back into other areas of the mind… It can be used as a gentle, calming exercise form – if you practice patiently as shown; and work on all the pieces, carefully coordinating them together… rather than imagining that you have the power from Day one when you don’t. ½ to 1 hour of practice each day, for six days a week will produce great results. Even 10 mins per day will quieten the nervous system and strengthen the flow of blood and energy throughout the body.
Beginners When you start your first hurdle is to keep the mind still. This can take practice because everyone relies on excitement and stimulation for motivation. Tai-Chi is a break away from excitement. You use the same type of thinking you would use when visiting a river as opposed to visiting a city centre on a shopping expedition. One the other hand a mindless state is no good either. The mind must be listening and learning. The mind shouldn’t be talking or asleep. Two-Handed Play Yin and yang are opposites. Left hand-right hand can be yin and yang. Therefore we learn to work both sides of our body at once. This is the next challenge – and that really helps your brain and its neurological functions. Speed We do very slow, deliberate actions and fast movement… not all slow. Some relaxing exercises – some demanding-strenuous. Do them to your level. You range will increase. As you play the art, your body and mind will become more integrated. Staying grounded In the solo exercises, warmup routines and set patterns with their changing movements, our objective is to stay relaxed and grounded. The objective is to proceed through a movement pattern, to yield to gravity without disturbing your equilibrium. By practicing with the concepts in mind your moves will have a buoyancy that runs through the moves as you play the art – like a piece of wood floating in water. Falling over But, as novices, we find ourselves in positions where we have no yinyang balance - no centre of gravity and our equilibrium is disturbed. With age we become quite unstable; and instability creates tension. As the structure sways to maintain balance, various joints become locked and the tendons grab tight. The muscles lock together in an effort to create stability. The structure starts swaying from side to side, forwards and back, the centre of gravity shifts upwards with the increase in tension… the body grabs hold of weight and throws it around internally in an effort to count-balance. The body becomes top heavy. It is uprooted and ready to topple. The mind fights for control and over-reacting, adds to the instability and we fall out of the posture. Partner Work Partner work is about maintaining your balance in any and every diverse position under pressure. When simply facing a partner many become uprooted. By using Tai- Chin principles we can cater with, yield to, and balance the pressure’s applied to our body by a training partner and learn to maintain balance under changing situations. And when we work with different partners, we discover more internal yinyang imbalances that demand different types of yinyang balance. When we play Tui Shou we find ourselves in difficult & awkwards position, which really challenges your mind to stay with the idea rather than to fall to fight to maintain your positions. This translates into the rest of our lives, making us more adaptive and balanced in our approach and response to people and circumstance. Once we can move through all of the set partner routines then we can play free-style tui shou which requires a new level of balance. Testing The set movements are like an obstacle courses…where we learn to maintain an idea while negotiating a whole bunch of changes. The mind and body must work together to succeed and advance . Once we can balance yinyang externally or on the outside of the body by counter balancing the limbs; then we take the yinyang balance inside ourselves, and to increasing depths. We can generate power with yinyang changes and pursue after deeper yinyang balance. Eventually when your have clocked up a few years Tai-Chi practice great power can be produced by smaller, subtle movements. You’ll find the longer you play Tai-Chi’s internal exercises, the greater your skills – regardless of your age; whereas with external-type exercise the older you get the weaker you become. Tai-Chi doesn’t rely on brute strength & force but rather skill & having the right idea. An exercise for the aged and frail. It will soften the hand of the ridgid or firm the hand of the weak. Tai-Chi is a powereful exercise in a similar way that water is powerful. They are both soft, liquid but can also act with power. YinYang Tai-Chi produces internal forces that literally make the body float. We will teach you how to let the muscles follow the yinyang flow. And then the body can be carried along on a wave of gentle power. You will be able to move weight around inside yourself as if it were water. It’s a complete fluid workout – like swimming in a river current but the current is on the inside. By practicing with the concepts in mind your moves will develop a buoyancy that runs through your moves – like a piece of wood floating in water. Good students are like good farmers. They prepare the ground correctly. They realise the growing season varies for different plants. They give their crops regular watering, feeding and weed control; and the essential ingredient - patient care. Tai-Chi is one of the eight great classical internal arts of Ba-Chi, developed in the 100 Schools of Thought.
Playing Tai-Chi is like swimming in the air - with practice you will create a buoyancy drawn from gravity.
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Playing Tai-Chi is like swimming in the air - with practice you will create a buoyancy drawn from gravity.
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