Like Cooking Chicken

Practice generates heat as the chi begins to flow. Therefore it is important to practice more than one form. In the first form the body starts to warm up. In the second form the practitioner can check the body for alignment, for peng, ding, for any stuck spots. In the third form the chi begins to flow once the body is aligned, peng, loose, heavy, relaxed. This is like cooking chicken. The chicken needs time to warm up before it is tender.

Practice is for health, for kung fu and for chi development and movement.

One Hand Controls One Side of the Body

"Peng" produces protection of the self, the body, and supports chi flow. Each arm/hand controls one side of the body. When the arm/hand crosses the mid-line one loses peng, and loses control. The right arm/hand controls the right side of the body. And the left controls the left side of the body. Each hand controls its own side of the body. When the hand crosses the center line peng is lost and when there is no peng there is no protection.

Before Starting the Form, Chi Xi

Before one starts to train with taiji one must check the mind. Let the body relax into the ground. Let the mind relax and settle. Standing quietly feet slightly together the mind and the body relax, sink, and become quiet. The body becomes loose. The eyes become still as one gazes ahead looking into the distance. The mind focuses and calms. As the mind becomes calm the focus moves inside of the mind, and inside of the body starts feeling the body's energy.

Peng, roundness, is present in the body. Looseness prevails. Chi can channel through this loose, rounded, relaxed body. One becomes more confident "like a hero". With this feeling the inside health becomes better.

When one is loose one becomes heavy. When a person is tight the person cannot get heavy and sill stay light.

When Chi Xi, the very beginning of the form, is correct the whole form will be completed better.

The balance found in Chi Xi makes one healthy. The mind and the breathing come together in calmness. Throw the stress out. Throw out the busy mind to become empty. Then the mind goes to the inside of the body and knows if the body is connected or not.

As one starts the form from standing the right foot sinks down with gravity into the ground even before the entire body sinks to the ground. There is a feeling of the right leg drilling into the ground. The left leg lifts as that leg is now completely empty. The left leg is brought up as if one were riding a bike.

The spine or tail-bone sinks and does not get stuck which allows the chi to sink down.

The head leads upward from the Bai Hui point that is located at the top of the head in alignment with the ears. When one looks down one looses balance. The body hangs like clothes draped from a hanger. Gently push the head up during the entire form, this will assist in attaining "ding".

Extend Chi Through the Joints

Stretching the limbs allows the tendons and ligaments to stretch. This stretching opens the joints. Joints that are open allow chi to flow through more smoothly through the extremities and throughout the entire body. Joints can loosen with stretching and also with twining movements. Loosened joints are more open, there is more space between the joints when they are loose which allows for more smooth movement.

 

Vertical Breathing

Horizontal breathing causes the chi to stick in the upper part of the body. Horizontal breathing is the shallow breathing that is marked by the in and out movement of the lungs at the upper chest level. Vertical breathing allows the chi to flow to the lower parts of the body. Vertical breathing flows deeply into the abdomen and can be seen with the rising and falling of the diaphragm as well as the movement in and out at the waist level as the air fills the lower part of the torso.

When muscles are held tightly the breath stays up and cannot sink. Softness leads to good circulation and health and to a good connection with the dantian and internal energy.

The Leg Comes From the Mud

Qi shi is the beginning posture in taijiquan. To start the form the person stands arms at side, looking forward, with feet together. The arms hang naturally and the head also is natural with the eyes looking forward. To step left, first the knees bend slightly and the hips relax as the weight of the body sinks downward and as the tail bone drops and the waist drops. The left foot will rise slightly and take a half-step to the left. As this leg is lifted from the floor/the earth the leg should feel as if it is being pulled from the mud. The leg moves gently and smoothly and should feel as if there is a thick goo that the foot is releasing from deep in the earth. Feel the heaviness of the earth pulling the leg as the body lifts the leg and moves it to the side.

Later on as the right leg lifts in Jin Gang Dao Dui, Pounding the Mortar, this leg too feels as if it is being pulled from the mud. As the right leg drops in this form it remains heavy and the stomp executed at the end of the form is a dropping, not a stomping. One should be able to hear the drop of the foot as a heavy resounding that comes from the energy of the waist and the hip.

Three Rules for the Waist

When training focus on the waist movement. As the tailbone relaxes and sinks the waist drops and loosens. The loose waist can twist more easily. The twisting waist causes the energy the limbs and especially to the arms to move as the torso moves. The arms do not move without the waist movement. Feel the waist connected to the mingmen, the kidney, in the back as if there were a force connecting the back to the dantian. The tail bone drops and with it the waist drops and loosens and allows the energy to sink to the feet. A dropped waist is loose and allows twisting to occur and for energy to circulate.

Drop the Waist

When the waist drops then energy can sink to the feet. To allow the waist to drop the back at the Mingmen point slightly presses out. The perineum drops as the tailbone straightens slightly, and presses down. This will allow the chest to become very slightly concave, empty and allows an arch across the back and shoulders horizontally, and vertically from the base of the neck to the base of the spine. As the tailbone drops let the chi sink to the feet.