Inner Journey Applications

This week, during class, we used Inner Journey elements to help focus our practice with good results. On Wednesday, we used “Find the Circle”, and on Friday, “Bowl of Soup in the Pelvis”. Let me explain.

Tai Chi philosophy is based on circles, composed of the polar opposites – yin and yang, which constantly move and change. The Tai Chi symbol, Double Fish, clearly illustrates this guiding principle. Forward changes to backward, right to left, up to down, etc. Tai Chi, being a martial art, first neutralizes in a circle then generally sends the energy back in a straight line. If the energy comes towards the body in a straight line, the body is pivoted on the center line either right or left depending on several factors, including which foot the opponent has forward, and which arm he is using.

If the energy is delivered in a downward angle, it is neutralized downward and generally responded to in an upward fashion. And if delivered in an upward direction, it is followed upward, than responded to in a downward fashion.

All one has to do, if learning a traditional form based on Tai Chi’s guiding principles, is look carefully at each movement to see all this contained in the form. The newer forms are more Chi Kung exercises, without martial intent, so it won’t hold true. So when we played “Find the Circle”, we were examining each move for the above stated reasons. We, as a group, could not find one movement that didn’t contain circles. Try it yourself.

The second game we played with our minds was “Bowl of Soup in the Belly”. One imagines a bowl of soup, filled to the top with something floating in the middle, placed in the pelvis, between the hips. One then does the form without spilling a drop. This requires paying close attention to keeping the spine, and especially the lower back and sacrum, squared to the front. The hardest part is, when stepping, not to tilt. Another spot that lends itself to tilting is stepping back. Usually the upper body leans forward to compensate for the leg reaching back. It is a fun and informative game to play with one’s mind.