Taiji as a moving art
Trains intention, awareness and intelligence, within the energies of the lower dantien (body and etheric level).
On every level there is an external and an internal aspect.
The external aspect is based in the physical body while the internal aspect is based in the etheric energy field.
trains the body and brain consciousness (superficial-mind).
Concerned with body positioning, balance, weight, speed, contracting and relaxing the muscles, calming the disturbed emotions and quieting the thinking mind. Then using these skills to physically interact first with a partner, then later life.
Perhaps 4 to 8 years of internally aimed external effort is required to open the door to the true internal, depending both on the initial condition of a persons system and the intensity and intelligence of their practice. Beyond this, many do not go.
The internal is found through the external. Progress from External to Internal begins from the very first exercise in true Taiji training. It is a mistake to aim to strengthen only the external first then hope to approach the internal later.
Attachment to Body
Energy training is central to all health, martial art and higher aspects of Taiji. Taiji for health and martial arts draws mostly on that lower dantian etheric component combined with the lower levels of the astral.
If not balanced by spiritual aspiration, then the strengthening lower dantian will increase the attachment to and identification with the body, leading a person in the opposite direction from their true purpose on the Earth.
Motive, Effort, Help
Progress towards the threshold of the Internal depends on purity of motive, intensity of effort and help from the teacher. These are the 3 important factors that will irresistibly lead to deep development.
Intensity of effort causes change on a deep level, which unfortunately also stimulates growth of the ego – often on a subconscious level.
Unfortunately, when Taiji is taught and learnt primarily for the purpose of healing (with emphasis on soft, pleasant outer conditions and little effort required from the practitioner) or overemphasising self defence (which while requiring effort thereby strengthening the body and personality structure, also inevitably builds the outer ego), then reliance on and attachment to the body is increased, suppressing the influence of the small inner voice and its natural innate aspiration towards the Beyond, thereby further obstructing the already narrow door to true internal progress.
Only purity of motive will ensure that the inner-growth strengthens the hold of the True Self, rather than the false self (ego) which if left to grow will bring all internal progress to a halt.
To deliberately direct all results of inner training to the benefit of the True Self, then consciously remember this aim when beginning to practice or whenever results seem to appear, is the base method for gradually purifying inner motives.
Only to the degree that you have purified and understood your own inner motives will the motives of those around you become clearer.
Until that time of understanding arises try to see others in a positive light or the ego will entrench itself by placing you at a higher position than you really are while placing those around you lower - this being the most obvious outward sign of the ego at work.
Over 50 years of internal investigation, the secrets of good health and long life have become clear. Your body's intelligence will maintain your health if you give it what it needs then don't interfere more. The potential human lifespan is 120 years, but each mistaken interference shortens that span.
These things lengthen your life:
Increase oxygen circulation.
Increase blood and lymphatic circulation.
Increase energy circulation.
These things shorten your life:
Over control or under control of your diet.
Over exercising or under exercising.
Emotional overreaction or underreaction.
Three simple types of waves ripple through the body each time it moves. Transverse waves, Longitudinal Waves and Torsion Waves. Practically speaking every movement is a complex mixture of these types. To visualise these waves:
3-D Dynamic Sphere
Article by Master Li Ya-Hsuan (Student of Yang Cheng-Fu) in which he argues for lifting and sinking within the Taiji-form which produces the vertical circle and the true 3 dimensional circularity of movement. (Unedited translation)...more
Essentials of Elastic Power
Of the 5 muscle changes, contracting, relaxing and holding are obvious and used by all but the 2 hidden phases of stretch and un-stretch are too fast and too subtle to be sensed or controlled from the superficial mind.
Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-Ching) said: 'If you want to know how to use Taiji, then you must know the five elements.' All good old masters of Taiji understand these five types of strength which can be generated within the body
When Active Muscles Lengthen
Technical article on Stretching Active Muscles – When the force applied to a muscle exceeds the force produced by the muscle it will lengthen, absorbing mechanical energy.
These eccentric contractions, which result in both braking and storing elastic recoil energy in normal locomotion, require very little metabolic energy, yet they are characterized by high force production
Taiji Body Alignment
Phase 1 (Move): A wave of intention, energy and movement rises...
Phase 2 (Release): Align the Lower Body...
Phase 3 (Stretch): Align the Upper Body...
Phase 4 (Un-stretch): Strengthen the Alignment while issuing 'Spring Force'...
Phase 5 (Settle): Intention, energy and body settle naturally...more
Patrick Kelly's 20 Important Points
1. Every part of the body changes continuously.
2. Mind and Body align within the changes.
3. Elastic strength transmits through chains of stretching muscles.
Yield, Neutralise, Issue
Yin-Yin, Yin-Yang, Yang-Yang.
Body Level. Yield: Relax the body and withdraw in the direction of the partner's movement. Neutralise: Release and align the body down to the ground while drawing the partner's body out of alignment.
Issue: Raise Relaxed Elastic Force to combine with the partner's attempt to re-align their body
Taijii is an art where the soft overcomes the hard, the calm subdues the aggressive and the subtle transcends the gross.
Taijii Form develops internal strength, Pushing-hands develops sensitivity.
Being externally relaxed while internally strong allows the possibility of resolving pressure without conflict
Higher Martial Arts
Deep Mind based training leads to Higher Martial Arts. Normal superficial-mind based training can never go beyond mere speed, strength and external technique
Questions on the Application of Taiji
Q. When progressing to the Free Pattern Pushing-hands, do the ideas and techniques from the Fixed Pattern Pushing-hands apply without modification?
A. The situation is different but the method is the same. You must understand and have achieved a degree of naturalness in all aspects of the method of receiving, neutralising and returning the partners efforts as follows: with a relaxed body and sensitive Mind, without resisting and without losing contact, listen deeply to detect your partner’s changes, then withdraw in the exact direction of their energy.
Next, by changing direction always a little ahead of the partner, draw them in a gentle curve. When the partner’s energy withdraws, merge with their Mind-energy-body system and release a wave of internal energy.
This is practised and refined within the Fixed Patterns and used within the Free Pushing-hands
Yang Family Classics, 40 Chapters
Attributed by the Yang family to Zhang Sanfeng.
Known now as the "Forty Chapters". From the 20th chapter: "As a martial art, T’ai Chi is externally soft, but internally strong, even as it seeks softness. If we are externally soft, after a long time internal strength will naturally develop.
Not consciously cultivating hardness, in reality our mind is on softness. What is difficult is remaining internally reserved, to possess strength without expressing it, always meeting the opponent with softness. Meeting strength with softness transforms the opponent’s strength into nothingness.
How to acquire this skill? When we have mastered touching, connecting, merging and following, we will naturally progress from awareness of movement to interpreting energy and finally illumination within the realm of absolute transcendence (Deep Mind).
If we have not reached absolute transcendence, how could we manifest the miracle of four ounces leading a thousand pounds? It is simply a matter of understanding the method of merging to the point of perfecting the subtle seeing and hearing."