Monthly Archives: July 2015

Turning & stepping 90 degrees in taiji & qigong

From a standing position:
1) Suck in your abdominal muscles, (thereby connecting the upper thigh to the torso).
2) When you can, draw the abdomen in further, allow the legs to bend slightly, but bear in mind that the bending of the legs merely allows you to suck the abdomen in even further, so 24move-360don’t stop sucking in.
3) Shift your weight on to one foot.
4) Simultaneously do the following: a) sink further, b) suck in further, whilst c) starting to turn the hip to the side, therefore releasing one foot from the floor.  Note that there is NO hurry to place the heel of the stepping foot, or even extend it. 24move-362
5) Sink, suck, and step (with the heel)!

Notes:

  • Note that, when you suck in your abdominal muscles, the pelvis rotates, causing your backside to tuck under, i.e. the tip of the spine will appear to tuck further between the legs.
  • Whichever leg you have the weight on during the step, make sure that the knee stays pointing at the toes; don’t let it collapse inwards (medially).
  • Make sure that the small of the back has relaxed and ‘opened’, which means that the ‘S’ bend has straightened out.  (If you have sucked the abdominal muscles in enough, your bottom will have tucked right under, and the lower back will feel flat (no ‘S’).
  • If you have done the above, and engaged the core muscles correctly, you will feel stable.

James Drewe teaches in London & Kent.  Details of classes can be found at http://www.taiji.co.uk.

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The Eyes in Taiji & Qigong

Focus
The eyes signify the intention (Yi) of a movement.  During the postures, focus wherever your intention is; the eyes shouldn’t blink.
230 PL - to 'Strike Tiger Left' move 3a
In between postures, during connecting moves, the eyes can ‘rest’.

This applies to both taiji and qigong, i.e. in the Daoyin Qigong exercises, the head is often required to turn to left or right.  Use the eyes to signify the intention.

Photo: Prof. Li Deyin in Strike Tiger.

 

Testing Postures in Taiji & Qigong – Making Sure the World is Round (Peng Energy)

Balancing the body
When performing tai chi and qigong, you need to organise your body so that it feels as though all aspects of the body (i.e. left/right, front/back, and up/down) are supported; in other words the left is supported by the right, the front by the back, the up by the down, etc..
Because of this, the body therefore has 100% awareness of all angles, and all directions, all the time.

This is the same idea as an architect designing a building that will withstand the elements from any direction.  In order that the building stays standing, it must have a solid foundation, and the proportions must be self-balancing.
A further example is the method of construction of a stone arch, where the pressure of the stones on one side of the arch needs to equal the pressure on the other sidSphere 2 (radius) for WordPresse.

Peng energy
In taiji, you need to have this same idea of balance in the body.  In other words if someone were to gently push, or pull you from any angle when you were in a tai chi posture, you would feel as though you were stable and able to withstand the push or pull (within reason).
This is ‘Peng’ energy – a feeling of being inside a balloon, and when ‘testing a posture’ is what you are aiming to generate.

As an example of this, when you are doing a double-handed push, moving from an Empty stance with your weight starting on the rear leg to a Bow stance with your weight finishing on the front foot:

  • Qi in the back: If you do the movement described above with no qi in your back, anyone standing in front of you, who catches hold of your wrists, would easily be able to pull you forwards.
    In this instance your world isn’t round – in Chinese terms, there is no qi in the back.  The upper spine is, in effect, collapsing; the world is round at the front (qi pushing forward), but you are weak at the back (no qi, no feeling of expansion in the same way that there is at the front).
  • Testing the legs: If you were again using the same pushing movement, and if a partner were then to stand beside you and push your front or back knee sideways (e.g. inwards), you should feel stable; both knees would have a very slight sensation (certainly without making it obvious) of expanding outwards.  It wouldn’t be enough to only have one knee expanding, because then again your world wouldn’t be round.
  • Qi up and down: If your partner were to push down on the top of your head, you should be able to feel yourself pushing from the floor (i.e. downwards), up through the crown; yet again, qi in both directions.

The function of 2-person taiji
This concept should be applied not only to taiji but also to qigong.  It is precisely the reason why solo tai chi is sometimes not enough to allow you to understand and feel the structure of a posture; occasionally we need a little help.
This is where 2-person exercises and forms come in; you need someone else to act as a ‘gauge’ so that you can feel your own vulnerability.

Sphere (radius) for WordPress Becoming 3-dimensional
Because of its shape, a sphere is self-supporting; the pressure from its core to anywhere on its circumference is equal.  The world might not be a perfect sphere (apparently it’s an oblate spheroid), but it’s certainly round, and when doing tai chi and qigong we should feel as though our body, acting from its core, behaves in the same way.