• Sifu Gary Tong

Ten Principles when playing Tai Chi Chuan.

Updated: Mar 16, 2021


Tai Chi - Qigong – Meditation

Balancing - Body, Mind & Spirit

What is Tai Chi Chuan?

​Tai Chi Chuan is a Mind / Body exercise that follows natural movements and principles of nature. The movements are slow & relaxed with focus, concentration, and breath.

Through daily practice of tai chi chuan, one will learn and develop patience, calmness, relaxation, better balance, breathe better, focus, concentration, and overall well being.

Tai Chi Chuan is moving meditation and also a martial art. Every movement is controlled by the mind and breath, sometimes referred to as internal martial art. Tai Chi practice is very good for stress and relaxation, and all movements can be used in self-defense. The exact translation of Tai Chi Chuan is “Grand Ultimate Fist.

When playing Tai Chi Chuan, our main emphasis should be on the principles. Body and Mind as One. Relax, breathe slowly, and deeply. Movements are graceful, calm, and quiet. Always maintain a connection to Heaven and Earth. Collect and store energy in your lower abdomen (Dantien).

Unlike other exercises, Tai Chi's main focus is to cultivate internal energy “Chi”. Chi is the universal cosmic energy that is in all living things. When Chi is weak or stagnant in our body, we can become ill. Through the relaxed and graceful movements of Tai Chi Chuan, we learn to circulate “Chi” throughout our body, relaxing & healing our body and calming our minds.

Tai Chi is believed to --- Boost the Immune System --- Slow the aging Process ---- Lower High Blood Pressure ---- Reduce the incidence of “Anxiety”, “Depression” and overall mood disturbances. Tai Chi Chuan is the most effective balance and coordination exercise in the world.

Ten Principles when playing Tai Chi Chuan.

Orally taught by Yang, Cheng-Fu

Recorded by Chen, Mei-Ming

Translated by Ma, Lai-Mui

1. Keep your head erect

Your head should be suspended. The spirit will go through to the head. Do that without using any strength. If you use force, the chi and the blood circulation will not flow very well. Even if you are naturally agile, if you do not keep your head erect, you cannot raise your spirit.

2. Keep your chest inward and let your Chi sink to the Dantien & stick to your spine.

Keep your chest slightly inward so that your chi will sink to the lower "dantien" naturally. Avoid protruding your chest, otherwise, the upper part of your body will be heavy and the lower part of the body will become light. This will cause the heel of your feet to "float" and make your stance unsteady. Also, make your chi stick to your spine. If you keep your chest slightly inward, you will also be able to keep your torso in the right position. This way, you can release your internal jing (energy and power) from your spine.

3. Relax your waist

The waist is the master of your body. If you can relax your waist, then both of your feet will have internal power. Then, the lower part of your body will naturally be steady. The insubstantial and substantial changes in the steps really rely on the waist. If you feel that you cannot respond freely, you must be neglecting your waist and hip.

4.) Distinguish substantial (yang) and insubstantial (yin) stances

In the Tai Chi Chuan theory, it is first important to distinguish between the solid and empty stances. If the weight is on your right leg, that means that the right leg is solid and that your left leg is empty. If your weight is on your left leg, then your left leg is solid and your right leg is empty. Distinguish between the solid and empty stances and you will be able to change your steps with agility, ease, and lightness. If you cannot distinguish between solid and empty, you will be clumsy, heavy, and not be able to keep your balance nor stay steady.

5.) Sink your shoulders and elbows

Keeping your shoulders sunk means that you should relax and drop your shoulders. Keeping your elbows dropped means relaxing and dropping your elbows. If you raise your elbow, your shoulders will rise up naturally too. If you cannot relax and sink your shoulders & elbows, your chi will come to the upper part of your body and affect your body in such a way that you will be unable to respond freely.

6. Use your "Yi" (mind) instead of force

In "Tai Chi Chuan Classics," it was said that one should use the mind instead of force. While playing Tai Chi, you should relax your entire body without allowing any clumsy strength to leave in your tendons, bones, and blood vessels. Using strength or force will only tighten up your body. Without using force, you can change your steps with agility, lightness, and ease. Some people may hesitate with the thought of not using force, wondering how to increase human strength. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, there is a meridian (internal body pathway) called "jinloc", which is similar to pipes underneath roadways. If the pipe is unobstructed and clear, then the water can flow through. The same principle applies to "jinloc". If they are clear, then the chi will pass through with ease. If one fills his body with tension or clumsy strength, then the jinloc will be obstructed and the chi and blood will pass with poor circulation. It is then difficult for the person to move with ease. If you are using the mind "Yi" instead of force, wherever the "Yi" goes, the internal energy also goes. If the chi and blood circulate well throughout your entire body day by day without stopping, after a long period of time, it will build up "jing" internal energy. It was said from the "Tai Chi Treatise", "extremely soft, then extremely hard and strong." If one masters Tai Chi Kung-Fu to a high level, his/her arms and shoulders will be like steel wrapped with the appearance of cotton (hidden extreme power).

7. Harmonize the upper and lower parts of the body

Coordinate the upper and lower parts as the "Tai Chi Treatise" has said, "the root at the feet, release from the legs, control by the waist, and express by the fingers." This means that from the feet to the legs, then to the waist – this must all be done in one unit without separating the movement. While the hands move, the waist and feet also move. The eyes must also follow the movements of the hands. This is called harmonizing the upper and lower parts of the entire body. If one part of your body ceases to move, there will be disorder and scatter in your movements.

8.) Coordinate the internal and external parts

The internal part of Tai Chi Chuan is the spirit. So, the spirit is the commander, the body is just following secondary. If you can raise your spirit, your movement will be light and agile. The forms are only substantial and insubstantial, open and closed. It is said to open, not only the hands and the feet but also the (Yi) mind. When close is said, it means that not only the hands and legs are closed, but the mind (Yi) is also closed. If one can harmonize between the internal and the external parts of his/her body, perfection will be reached.

9.) Continuous and Flowing movements

Tai Chi emphasizes the mind instead of force. From the beginning to the end, it is continuous without interruptions, like an endless circle. As the "Tai Chi Classics" has said, "Like a long river or a big ocean, flowing ceaselessly". It has also stated that applying jing is "like pulling silk from the cocoon". This describes the importance of continuity.

10. Tranquility and peace in movements

Tai Chi practice emphasizes calm and peace of mind to overcome vigorous movements. Although the body and mind are moving, they are calm and tranquil. It is best to practice as slowly as possible because when the movements are slow, breathing will be naturally deep and the chi will sink to the lower dantien. The tai chi player will understand by thinking deeply, concentrating, and feeling the flow of chi.

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Tai Chi for Balance Course.

Tai Chi is an effective mind/body exercise to improve your health, balance & well-being.

Tai Chi practice has proven to be very helpful in preventing falls and relieving stress, anxiety, tension, and pain.

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