When I talk about my teachers having so much energy from taiji, it has to do a lot with the fact that they save energy more than actually producing it out of nowhere, which seems impossible to the average person. This is one thing every practitioner who practices long enough learns about taijiquan. It’s true, you get only so much Qi (energy) when you’re born and as life progresses you lose it, or at least, lose access to it. But you can get it back, and one stepping stone to do that is by learning to conserve it, not waste it, use the energy you have wisely, and consciously bringing stuck qi back into availability. By doing taiji movement, you clear out superfluous energy, which in turn attracts your original qi and rebuilds it. It’s fantastic to reunite with what is essentially a part of ourselves.
free the muscles
when wiping a wet glass off with a towel after washing it I found myself with tension, stiff neck, tense shoulders and all the associated muscles … kind of frozen, no qi flowing through or very little.
to catch this in the midst of it happening is an opportunity to let yourself release that tension and let the qi flow … go deeper into your marrow to open the jar, wiped down the countertop or clean the windows.
Everyone of us teachers encounters a time in his journey when he feels he doesn’t know how to teach. He knows he doesn’t and perhaps never did. This is not surprising. It may last only a hour or two, or maybe forever, but the time comes when you thought you knew what you were doing fizzles away under the light of a new level of understanding … that other moment that comes along in the journey of every teacher.
Tai chi cultivates sensitivity to subtle changes in your body and beyond. You may not be very sensitive at first, but with a little effort to pay attention, the moves themselves will offer up very satisfying results. Surprisingly pleasant results arise as our minds open up to new perceptions of what is achievable by practicing simple movements.
Qigong practice also offers sensitivity training benefits. I definitely agree with Masters George Xu and Susan Matthews, who say that Qigong basic movement is important to develop qi, or energy forces. It is very beneficial for developing the mind and physical body to be loose, open, empty free, light, everywhere moving, letting the “qi go through.” Train the mind to ‘look’ for any stuck place in yourself; look for too much yang or too much yin.
“You must develop this in yourself before you can see or create attackable tension in the opponent,” Master Xu says.
The important principle, no matter what style of martial arts you practice, is that qi must move for the physical to move. At the same time, the physical, continuously moving, creates the qi. As Master Xu explains in his new video, “something up/something down, something left/something right, down with up, in with out, forward with backward, sinking with floating, shrinking with expanding, yin with yang must be expressed in all qigong movements in order to create a field of force outside the body.”
You can practice the movements along with Master Xu in his video. He instructs to “practice feeling, not power,” and be continuously reminded of how to apply these principles more and more over time to become more high level.
Many intellectualize taiji rather than actually doing taiji. Nothing bad about that except it’s a different knowing than if they had acquired their knowledge by doing taiji. This is a challenge for the mind that wishes to be mindful. Whole body moves as a single unit is one of the first objectives of the practitioner. This is only the beginning step and much more awaits to be discovered. The fun thing is that with consistency different practitioners often arrive at the same understandings through separate paths. And sharing our findings in daily practice is rewarding. With the guidance of a good teacher you move more quickly along your path. But importantly…do taiji with your whole being.
Observe watch listen “ting jing” for where you are not moving everything must move imagine what that means visualize the next move where how how much when to start when to end when to transition into another direction to speed up or slow down to become large or to shrink to dissolve to consolidate to be there to not be there to laugh to be stern forceful and powerful.
Taiji is a martial art at its roots. That means that you are learning to engage with an opponent. But since we are not living in times of warfare as those times during which taiji came into being the meaning of “opponent” has new meanings that perhaps it didn’t used to have. If you are going to learn technique and applications, you will be able to apply them to an physical opponent in battle. In my journey we have learned to see opponent in new ways. One for example is to see yourself as opponent. Your weaknesses. To stalk yourself. To be observant and listen to yourself while you move. To learn to move from a point and return to it. To expand and shrink, yang yin yang. To lead the chi with the yi and the physical with chi. To pull the silk, not push it. To find wuqi even in the midst of movement. The opponent is the resistance to these things in taiji.