I dug up a few notes from early trainings with Master Xu that remind me of a few basic practice principles. They might sound rather advanced, however. I had begun practice about two years before. I thought it would be fun to share. See if it resonates for you.
You must try different styles of tai chi in order to learn which you are best suited for, Master George Xu once told us. Distinct styles match the five elements: wood, water, fire, air, metal. Metal is the most martial of all. Chen Style, for example is a fluid style, while Wu is like a snake—concentrated, connected.
Also, you must go from one level to the next in your training, but it is common that while you train at one level, you are preparing yourself for not only the next, but for all. The levels that Master Xu named are physical, energy and spiritual. There is no worthwhile physical without spiritual, he said. But you must train the physical to it highest level of attainment in order to reap the greatest benefit of the spiritual.
Some time later, he compiled some more advanced instructions that (sort of) add to these earlier points.
The body must be “xu” (empty.) The body power is hidden like a cat so the enemy cannot detect your power sources. This means “nobody knows me, I know you.”
The body must be “kong”(self-conscious.) Wu wei‚ do without doing. This is the way to get maximum gravity, maximum freedom and maximum speed. You have only energy structure, like the one of a predator.
Ling (agile and alive.)You have two bodies: internal and external bodies are separate. You can move internal body separately from external body. It makes you change in a smart way.
Tong (energy Yin-Yang go through inside of body.) No place in the body has “ice.” You have four levels in progression: ice, lava, water, steam. You have to keep these qualities anytime and in every position.
The feeling of all kinds of changing inside your body is called “Qi”. The Qi has four qualities:
Qi Go Through—Yin-Yang energy changing through the body acting and reacting force together. The feeling of these two forces creates the “qi go through.” The qi has to be balanced in all directions, especially some qi goes inside and some outside.
Qi Alive—Not physical body alive, but the internal body alive, with harmony to the mind.
Qi melt—Until your qi totally melts, you cannot be “pure internal.” The internal energy is bigger than the physical body otherwise you are internal-external physical body (point-line and not volume).
Qi Spiritual—The qi is in harmony with the spiritual, the spiritual can attach from every position like a mosquito, surprising the enemy in his empty areas.
After having the body and energy qualities, first of all you must have the maximum unit force, all body harmony to one. In each point of my body you touch, you touch the entire body.
Secondly, you must have maximum gravity and understand how to use this maximum gravity in an intelligent way and how any effort and tension reduce the gravity force.
Thirdly, if you are in a kong situation, you can have maximum freedom.
Fourthly, you have maximum speed.
Fifthly, you have minimum effort to achieve you action.
Sixthly, you must keep the “not-understandable.”
Eighthly, unbreakable structure.
Ninthly, unresistable force.
When you fight you must keep the round circle motions (no beginning, no ending) and 3D shrinking-expanding snowball motion.
Finally, the whole body becomes a spiritual fist. Everything becomes yin and yang at the same time, so the spirit is yang, very light, but your spirit has to be very heavy like a mountain when you fight. The physical body is Yin (very heavy) but when you fight you have to feel it light as a feather. The speed is a mind speed, there is a mind-change technique, your power is a mind power.
Awareness and not-awareness exist at the same time, light and heavy at the same time, soft and hard at the same time, empty and full, large and small at the same time. You have only one feeling changeable all the time. You have not a Yang feeling changing to Yin feeling, but a Yin and Yang feeling at the same time in a situation that you know, but you don’t know.
Have fun applying this in your practice.