Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip – #304
The Yin and Yang of Tai Chi Chuan
The study of Tai Chi Chuan is the study of Yin and Yang — how they relate, engage and disengage, in a never ending cycle. Every facet of our Tai Chi practice, and our life also, can be viewed through the Yin/ Yang perspective. It is important to remember that nothing is absolute. Yin contains Yang and vice versa, just as night contains day, up contains down, etc. Also, these two energies balance each other out. The Chinese have classified everything into Yin and Yang and their whole system of natural medicine is based on Yin and Yang theory. If something gets too Yin, add Yang, and vice versa. Let’s look at how this theory relates to Tai Chi Chuan.
Tai Chi — Yang Side
Yang is given the attributes of male, hot, dry, expanding or outward and upward moving, hard, aggressive, positive, etc. If we think about Tai Chi Chuan, we can see that movements that use a fist (the most Yang part of the body), that push, pull, strike, kick, ward off, all can be considered Yang.
Tai Chi — Yin side
Yin is given the attributes of female, cool, moist, contracting or inward and downward moving, soft, yielding, negative, etc. Yin movements use open hand (the most Yin part of the body), yield, deflect, parry, move in toward our body, and usually downward.
It is important to remember that Yin contains Yang and Yang contains Yin. Every movement of Tai Chi Chuan is a combination of these two energies, with one being more predominate.
Also remember that Yin balances out Yang and vice versa. If you look at the most basic movement, Ward Off, you’ll get the idea.
The opponent pushes or punches to our center. This is a Yang movement on his part. We need to balance or neutralize this energy with Yin. In this case, we join his energy with the right hand (open and Yin ) and lead it to the right side, close to our body, and slightly downward (Yin).
At this point his Yang is neutralized and he starts to turn into Yin (he starts to retreat back into his center for balance and stability). We then must change to Yang so we follow him forward and attack his center with our left forearm (Yang in that it moves out and up in an expanding nature).
Each movement of Tai Chi contains a movement from Yin to Yang or Yang to Yin in order to first neutralize the opponent’s energy and then follow up with energy of our own. If the opponent uses Yin, I use Yang. When he Rolls Back, I Press. If he uses Yang, I use Yin. He kicks and I Retreat to Ride A Tiger. If he attacks my right side (Yang ), I empty the right (Yin ) and fill the left (Yang).
When two people who are good at playing Tai Chi push hands get together, it is like a fine balance scale in that the slightest addition to one side must be met with an equal addition to the other side in order to maintain equilibrium. The master of Tai Chi will be so subtle in his or her addition or subtraction of energy that the partner will not know what is happening until it is too late to make a change. The Tai Chi Classics say “ I know my opponent and he doesn’t know me.”
So meditate on the idea of Yin and Yang and see if your form doesn’t markedly