Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 285
Random Tips to Improve the Form
Tai Chi is a martial art based on deep internal principles. The forms most people practice are based on the efficient utilization of the body, to do the most work with the least effort. Here are some Tips to unify the mind and body. Think and practice.
- Intention is the Master Key to Tai Chi. You must know the why and how of all parts of every movement. There is no “one and only correct intention”. You can make up whatever you want as long as the application adheres to the guiding principles laid down by our Tai Chi elders and passed on from generation to generation. Research the classics to find out what these are.
- When moving forward and backward (Bow and Sit Stance), use the legs as if to push the earth away. When shifting forward, push the earth away with the rear foot. When moving backward, push the earth away with the front foot. The more firmly you push, the more internal energy you generate.
- Never move the arms in a horizontal or diagonal direction by themselves. Realize that the arms connect to the center, so if you want to move the arms, move the center. The arms can move straight up and down without turning the torso because of gravity and duai la.
- Do not try to match the breath with the movement in Tai Chi until you can go through the form without thinking about what comes next. Eventually you will inhale on the gather and exhale on the release. Of course, you can always practice Qigong exercises that coordinate breath and movement.
- Gather and release energy into and out of the kua. In order to find the kua, squat and jump up. The fold in the front of the hip is the kua. Every movement uses this gather and release into and out of the kua.
- Do not shift the weight onto the stepping out foot until the heel touches down when moving forward or sideways, and toe touching down when stepping backward. Do not fall onto the foot.
- Do not turn the head alone. Turn the center and the head also turns. Do not break the alignment of nose and belly button. For instance, you hear something to your right. Don’t just turn your head. As your awareness moves to the right, the whole torso turns so you can gaze to your new direction. You don’t want to be caught sideways to the incoming energy if you can help it.
- If you can do one movement perfectly, you have mastered Tai Chi. All movements use all the same principles.
- There is always the element of Duai La or counter balance of energy. If something goes up, something must come down; if something goes forward, something goes back; if something goes right, something goes left, etc. It might be the legs counterbalancing the arms, the right side, the left side. If two arms go up, the energy in the lower body increases, and if the two arms move downward, energy raises up the back.
- When kicking, pay attention to where you are gathering the energy. When doing a snap kick (Separation of the Right Foot and Left Foot kicks), gather into the standing leg kua and release from that hip into the kicking knee, then from there, snap it out from the knee. When doing a thrust kick, gather into the kua of the kicking leg as you raise the foot off the ground, then release from that kua. When kicking, make sure to stabilize your back so the energy is sent outward in a forward direction. It is easy to lean back when kicking which dissipates some of the energy.
- The body and mind is one unified field of energy that extends outward from your skin for a distance – as much as a foot or more. Some people can see this. It is called an “aura”. One of the purposes of Tai Chi practice is to develop one’s sensitivity so one can feel and detect the energy field of another person, as well as feel if someone else approaches our own energy field. Push Hands practice is good for developing this skill.