about t'ai chi

The T'ai Chi principles

Yang Chen-Fu (1883-1935), grandson of Yang Lu Chan, the founder of Yang-style t'ai chi ch'uan, was the Master teacher of Cheng Man-Ch'ing, one of the most accomplished and prominent t'ai chi masters of the 20th century. Here are Yang's important points with respect to the understanding and practice of t'ai chi ch'uan:

  1. Complete relaxation (sung) is all-important. You must relax the entire body.  There should be no exertion of strength, only a feeling of the head-top being suspended from above.  Relax the sinews, the rest will follow.
  2. Sink (chen) the chi; empty the strength from the upper torso into the legs.  Sinking the chi will assist to concentrate the mind.
  3. Differentiate substantial and insubstantial.  Keep the weight on only one foot at a time.  Avoid the error of being double-weighted.
  4. The head must be erect, the spine straight.  This allows the chi and the i (mind) to meet at the top, keeping the body light and nimble.  When turning, keep the sacrum erect _ this keeps the body stable.
  5. The waist is the immovable center, the central axis.  It is erect, yet flexible.
  6. In Push Hands practice, never resist: yield to the opponent, draw back, neutralize, and then follow and attach; at the opponent's slightest move, anticipate and "beat him to the punch."  The latter practice naturally follows the former.
  7. Don't put your hands out aimlessly.  Relax, be light and nimble with the touch _ then the hands will have meaning.
  8. Follow the Daruma Doll Principle.  Relax and be boneless.  Like a weighted doll, one cannot be pushed over.  Keep the body nimble, the foot rooted, the center of gravity sunk, and all energy focussed on the point of one sole.
  9. Distinguish between tenacious energy (from the sinews) and force (from the bones).  Tenacious energy is soft, elastic, active; force is hard, inelastic, dead.  Concentrate the energy from the foot to the waist to unify the body's intent.
  10. In the Solo Exercise keep your balance so that the chi can circulate and flow.  Keep the pace slow and even as though drawing silk from a cocoon.
  11. In Push Hands practice, recognize and know the technique of the opponent. Differentiate the genuine attack from the feint.  In ward off, do not go too far out; in roll back, don't let the opponent come in too close.
  12. To deflect  a thousand pounds with a trigger force of four ounces, one must use correct technique.  Correct technique must be applied correctly.
What and why T'ai Chi

T'ai Chi Ch'uan incorporates principles of self-defense, meditation, physics, and efficiency of movement into a series of graceful and gentle postures designed to promote strength, balance and vitality.

T'ai chi stimulates and balances the chi (energy) to tonify the organs and thus rejuvenate physical and mental well-being. How can this happen? Practitioners may explain their experience that  t'ai chi's fluid, spiraling and bending movements, as well as its natural breathing and meditation components, massage the internal organs, releasing them from damaging constrictions brought about by stress, poor posture and difficult working conditions.

Further, the practice aids the exchange of gases in the lungs, helps the digestive system to work better, increases a sense of calmness and awareness, and improves balance. Other purported benefits include improved circulation, breathing and flexibility; stress management; relief from high blood pressure, back pain and insomnia, and better overall health from improved body alignment.