Correct Principles of Tai Chi Practice - Liu Yong
Before Tai Chi there were many other styles of Wushu or martial arts.
Tai Chi was developed approximately 100 years before the gun. When
guns became popular Tai Chi began to change its emphasis. As it was no
longer needed for self-defence, it began to evolve into a sport. However
some people felt that Tai Chi was too good a Martial Art to lose, and
kept this side of it going. In the last century, as China became more
open, Tai Chi was able to spread. Yang Luchan took it to Beijing, and
later Chen Fa Ke taught there. Today it has spread around the world.
Tai Chi is a combination of
2) Chinese Medicine
3) Acupuncture- Jing Luo
4) Yin Yang philosophy
Tai Chi can be described as
1) Chinese Culture
Today more people see Tai Chi as a sport, an exercise system. Very few
people can recognise it as Wushu or Chinese Culture. You must open
your heart to know/understand Tai Chi.
Progression in Learning
2) Gung fu
Arms and body move together. Many people can understand the hand
movements, but do not see the body movement. Tai Chi is a circle.
Many people can make the arm circles but are not relaxed enough to
make the body circles. All movements are from a circle. The arm circle
follows the body circle. Do not go outside of the circle. The body
movement is a circle. Do not turn the body to the maximum, always
leave a little. The body should turn 90 degrees. Never overturn. The
body needs to relax first, then make the movement. After three years
students should be able to understand this level.
When you turn the body the weight changes sides. If the body turns to
the right, the left leg takes the weight. One leg is relaxed and one is not
relaxed. When the body turns, the hands follow. If the hands alone
move (without the body) the movement is incorrect. By moving the
body, the hands can move further The body has three parts. The middle
part, between the navel and the hips must be loose and flexible and able
to rotate. If the upper part is too strong, the middle will not be able to
relax and move. If the legs are too weak, the weight will be in the top of
the body and there will be no root. For Tai Chi strong legs are important.
As you get older, the legs are the first things to grow weak.
When the body is relaxed qi goes first to the dantian, then to the legs
and the feet. When the legs are strong, the back will be strong. Tai Chi
breathing is not upper chest breathing. When you breathe using natural
breathing, you are stronger. Tai Chi develops the use of natural breathing.
With continued practice, you will be able to use natural breathing all
the time, not just when you practice Tai Chi.
More practice builds up the qi in the dantian. The dantian becomes like
a football. More qi makes you stronger. However it is very slow to
develop, the qi builds up gradually. Building up the qi is like a seed
Arm movements come from the body
Body movements come from qi
Qi comes from practice
When the Tai Chi movements are correct, the body is relaxed and the qi
Tai Chi is fast and slow movements. The fast movements come from the
slow ones. Fast – from slow - from relaxation – from the circle.
Fa Jing is very relaxed, not tense, and very circular.
Relax + Circle = Fa Jing
Without the circle you cannot release. If you
are tense or stiff and have no circles, energy
Xin Jia (Chen Style New Frame) is
fast and slow alternating. The
movements are relaxed like a fish
swimming in water. First practice
slowly to feel if the circles are
correct and to make sure you are relaxed. Lao Jia
(Chen Style Old Frame) lets you feel slow movement, lets you feel the circles,
and lets you feel relaxed. If you can feel this first in Lao Jia, then you will be
able to feel this in Xin Jia. Practice Lao Jia every day to develop this feeling.
Xin Jia is different because it has many small movements. If you understand
the big movements in Lao Jia (which has no small movements) then you will be
able to build in the movements in Xin Jia. Finally you will be able to understand
Fa Jing. This is the correct road for developing Tai Chi. Improvements take
time to develop. It cannot happen quickly. You can only make improvements
for yourself by practising every day. This is the principle for all the Tai Chi
One principle “turn body” can make a thousand movements just as one tree
can make a thousand leaves.
Tai Chi is about 400 years old but Chinese Culture has been developing for
around 2000 – 3000 years. To improve your Tai Chi you need to understand
more Chinese Culture.
a) Understand about Yin and Yang.
When you understand the changes between Yin and Yang, you can apply this
to your movements.
b) Chinese Medicine
Learn about the Jing Luo system.
The Dai Mai circles the body (like a belt) around the waist. The Du Mai and
the Ren Mai circle up the back and down the front of the body. These Jing Luo
form circles. All of the others are lines. So these three are Tai Chi Jing Luo.
Dai Mai is the most important Jing Luo for Tai Chi. When the qi goes through
the Dai Mai the qi becomes strong. If your qi can pass through these channels
your gung fu will be very strong.
c) Tai Chi is an Art/Sport
Art and movement are different, but the feeling is the same. Tai Chi is a body
language, like a song for the body.
Tai Chi is like ballet, like music and like calligraphy. All of these things have
combinations of fast and slow. Artistic people can understand Tai Chi quicker.
If you can understand other art forms then you will understand and appreciate
d) Sun Tzu, Art of War
Because Tai Chi is a Martial Art, this is a good book to read. Push Hands
relates to this and especially Competition Push Hands.
If you understand the mechanics of movement, you will understand how to
move from one posture to the next.
Tai Chi is old knowledge and modern knowledge combined. If Western culture
has the same principles these can also be used to explain Tai Chi.
Master Liu Yong was formally accepted as an Indoor Student of Grandmaster
Chen Zheng Lei in 1996. He lives in Lian Yun Gang, Jiangsu, China. He is the
Seat of Honour Consultant to the Chen Style Tai Chi College, here in the UK.
He has Tai Chi students all over China, and has also taught in Britain and Korea.