Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip #338
Tai Chi Scale
Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do , or solmization, is the vocalization of the major scale in music. These are eight basic sounds, or since sound is nothing but waves of energy, we can say eight basic energies create an infinite number of musical possibilities.
In Tai Chi Chuan, we also have eight basic energies – peng (ward off), lu (roll back), ghee (press), an (push), tsai (pull down), lieh (split), chou (elbow strike), and kao (shoulder strike). These make up the hundreds of movements of our Tai Chi forms.
There are eight trigrams that surround the Tai Chi symbol to signify the Pa Kua, another internal martial art of China. The same eight trigrams are combined into 64 hexagrams that make up the I Ching, which is the oldest known book of philosophy from China.
So we shouldn’t get hung up in the idea of how complex the internal arts are, but look at how very simple the basic structure really is. Concentrate on these eight basic energies and all the variations in the form will be simple.
It is essential that the chi flows uninterruptly through the body. This chi flow is often compared to a great river, and that is an apt metaphor.
The river has many qualities that the internal artist wants to emulate in his or her own body, including power, yielding, adaptability, and strength of purpose. Just as water hates dams, our bodies hate blocks, which, in people, are mostly constructed from tension.
Riots used to be controlled by the use of bullets and now they are controlled by water cannons. Much more effective and less crude. The Tai Chi player uses the cruder movements such as punch or kick only as a last resort, preferring the skills of sticking, adhering, connecting, and following. These have the qualities of water, being effective without causing harm.
Take time to sit by a beautiful river and observe its flow and I’m sure your internal arts practice will flourish.