Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it!
It is possible to study Tai Chi for a while, learn many techniques, use many or most of the principles and use strength to become very good at Pushing hands. Usually, people who do this, have winning as their highest priority. Two things, at least, result from this condition: One is that the practitioner never reaches the highest level. And the other is that this person’s relative success tends to impress others and invalidate the true principles of Tai Chi. It takes a lot of faith to continue to lose day after day to people you know you can beat if you use your strength; to invest in loss. Many of the female Tai Chi players I have talked to, have expressed a fear to really try and push the males. They say the men get upset and push them back very hard. This is male ego in one of its nastier manifestations. You would think that every Tai Chi player would be happy to see a validation of the principle of the weak overcoming the strong. Yet, when it happens, most of the strong men become children. We must take care of our partners in Push hands. Its purpose is to learn, teach, practice; not win, the winning is in the learning. If you are winning at pushing because of double weighting, bracing the legs etc., this will not translate into fighting. Tai Chi doesn’t work in the horse stance. At close quarters it leaves one vulnerable. You can push someone if that’s all you want to do. By abandoning all your defensive integrity to get the push, will not reach the highest levels.
(Adaption from an article by Kenneth van Sickle)
SOME THOUGHTS ON TAI CHI WALKING
"When we are very young we use our whole body to walk including our torso. Yet as we get older we tend to use only our arms and legs for the walking part, eventually often only achieving a shuffle motion with our legs.
In Tai Chi walking we learn to walk in a very slow way and to use our torso as well as our arms and legs resulting a much more fluid way of walking.
Tai Chi walking is very much about the transfer of our body weight from one leg to another.
The walk is performed in slow motion but with a light feeling almost like you are lifting into mid-air. The movements are flowing like water with no jolts and almost no pause between steps. Feel as though you are rooted with great balance but light and fluid. Learn to walk like a cat with light but firm movements.
The body should be without any stiffness and relaxed but with attention to your actions. Keep the knee soft (bent) throughout the movements and avoid the head bobbing up and down while keeping the torso and head upright with good posture. This will help to strengthen the muscles around the knee joints while at the same time keeps the joint loose. Imagine that the knees are the body’s shock absorbers. As you are walking look forward and stay focussed".
"The ultimate objective of Tai Chi & Qigong is to improve health, prevent disease and to achieve longevity.
"The mind should be calm. If the mind is not calm, one cannot concentrate, and when the arm is raised, whether forward or back, left or right, it is completely without certain direction. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a calm mind. The entire mind must also experience and comprehend the movements of the opponent."
The Principles of Tai Chi
1. Movements should be slow like water flowing in a calm river, and continuous without interruptions,
2. Arms and body move together - the golden rule in Tai Chi - when one part of the body is moving then all parts are moving.
3. Resistance - you should imagine that when moving your hands or body you are moving against a resistance, as if walking through water.
4. Weight transfer - before stepping forward all weight to be on the front leg, bring rear leg forward in front placing heel first, then slowly lower the foot and transfer the weight forward before stepping and transferring weight again.
5. Loosening the joints - when we say relax we mean to loosen the joints, not to become floppy without structure, but to use only enough strength or tension to stretch the joints from the inside.
6. Soft Joints - we normally never fully stretch or "lock" our joints in Tai Chi, arms and legs always soft.
7. Breathing - breathe in and out from your Dantian, link the breathing with the movement.
8. Posture and Alignment - maintain an upright posture and body alignment, hunching forward will block the flow of Qi and upset the balance, and leaning back will put strain on the spine.
9. Mind leads the body - use your mind to direct your movements, staying fully conscious and and using intent.
Chinese proverb "Do not be afraid of going slowly, only be afraid of standing still".
World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - April 2019
Time seems to have flown by this year and as we are almost arriving to the day of "World Health Qigong Day" on Saturday 14th September (more on this below), this has reminded about the earlier April event World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, below are some very late photos and a video of "World Tai Chi & Qigong Day" which was in April this year! lt was held in Higginson Park, Marlow overlooking the glorious Thames, and celebrating the principal of "One World - One Breath". Big thank you to MatthewWatts for the photos and video.
World Health Qigong Day - September 2019
Details to follow soon!!!!
Laojia Yilu (Part 1) - Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei
World Tai Chi Day in Greenville, South Carolina, 2008 - nice slow motion film of this wonderful day
‘Wang Hai Jun - Towards the Light’ The following video was made to celebrate World Tai Chi Day on April 25th 2015, it is an intimate portrait of one of the most accomplished Tai Chi practitioners on the planet Featuring Wang Hai Jun, a teacher and practitioner of Tai Chi at the highest level, the film showcases the graceful flow and energy of this ancient martial art. At the age of nine his father arranged for him to live and study with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei.