Friday, 13 March 2009

Equal and Opposite

When we empty one side of the body to yield to an opponent's force there is a corresponding force which comes to the opposite side. This force can be issued or stored. It increases in strength as we turn and empty on the yielding side.

The body behaves like a seasaw. When one side moves back there is a pivot point which may be in the centre of the body, and then, on the otherside, there is a forward movement. The force from one side must be transmitted without a break so that there is an equal and opposite response on the other side. It is like a revolving door.

If the body is too loose then this force will be dissipated.

P.S. Anyone who says that "nothing is impossible" has never tried to slam a revolving door!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Co-ordination and the benefits

When we co-ordinate the various parts of the body and move using t'ai chi principles we are able to perceive the whole of the body. To co-ordinate the body and arms and then to move those parts with the feet we must be aware of those parts and carefully connect them with a feeling which runs through the parts. The mind functions like a string running through pearls in a necklace. The pearls are like the major joints of the body. So the mind links all those joints and creates a feeling that runs through them.

To achieve this sense of the whole the mind must be spacious and cannot look at individual parts without relating them to the whole. This spacious mind is relaxed and natural.

At first the mind awareness seems separate from the natural feeling of the whole of the body. When there are more subtle levels of co-ordination the mind mixes with the experience of the whole of the body. The feeling of the whole is achieved using the subtle body of the ch'i which fills the physical body together with the result of co-ordination.

To increase the power of the postures it is helpful to co-ordinate on a deeper more subtle level. The elbow rotations in a posture may be correspond to sinking or rotation of the waist. The feeling of the force which may be directed to the hand is, in this way, unbroken.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

'Forget Self' : the supreme principle

When we think to relax there is a sense that we observe the process of relaxation from some place within ourselves. From this place of observation there seems to be a controller of the relaxation. The relaxation seems to take place somewhere else. It is as if there are two aspects to the action. Yet the 'controller' is not involved in the relaxation. In this way our relaxation could be limited because it is easy for the 'controller' or 'self' to be a source of holding and tension.

When Dr. Chi advised me to 'forget self' it had many applications and implications for practice and daily life. If we can forget self the experience of relaxation, for example, is total. There are no parts of our being that are left out. We are 'taken over' by the feeling of relaxation - it is all embracing.

If we forget self we can become one with our experience or with others. To complete the quote from Dr. Chi : 'forget self, become one with the tao.'
Bristol 7.03.09

Squatting Single Whip

If you try to perform squatting single whip externally using ordinary strength you will require great effort and determination. If you use internal movement of force you will achieve the same results with less effort.

The posture begins with a sink towards the front foot whilst extending through the left hand. As mentioned before on this blog 'sinking' must be a total experience. By this I mean that we should not think to sink in one area of the body. Relaxing and melting the substantial in the upper body occurs throughout the whole of the upper body. Even at this early stage the legs also loosen and relax. At this stage it is possible to feel the substantial internal feeling moving downwards. To achieve a low stance it is important to follow this substantial movement. Not only this but we relax and follow the substantial. This way of sinking naturally brings the balance through the legs correctly and through the feet. The body is very stable and allows greater relaxation and deeper stance.

It is important to follow the force. In the lower position the force is directed forward and comes through the left arm to the fingers.

Many students are wary of squatting single whip and yet it is an opportunity to use internal force to open the legs and hip joints.
Bristol 7.03.09

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Conditioning and learning to 'let go.'

When I studied with Dr. Chi at one time he advised that I think of myself as a master. When we think of ourselves as a student we have the idea that what we want to achieve is beyond where we are. When we think of ourselves as a master we relax into the attitude of valuing the experience as it is and we can let go of negative feelings about our experience of practice. We can recognise the value of our practice in the moment and this attitude increases the power of our effort.

Generally we don't need to distance ourselves from that which we want to cultivate. If you want to develop your relaxed state it is better to imagine you are already relaxed and allow the feeling to take you over. If you think to 'try to' relax you already separate yourself from the experience as if it is a quality that you need to aquire. The reality is that you are relaxed to a degree and that if you embrace that fact it is easier to allow it to increase.

We condition ourselves with our own ideas, we unconsciously accept the cultural ways and habits. We have been conditioned by our responses to past actions, by parents, friends and the environment. When we practise t'ai chi it is an encounter with 'natural.' It is unconditioned in its purity and yet we bring our own conditioning to the experience. When we think to 'let go' we are encouraging ourselves to see afresh and allow the experience of the encounter to present itself without too much pre-conditioning.

When we think of 'basic practice' we can think of it as being fundamental. All so-called advanced practises are based upon the 'basics' which we encounter even in the first lesson. Really the very basic practices are the most profound because ever experience of practice is dependent upon them. Understanding this interdependence of all the principles of t'ai chi can inspire us to be happy to always practise 'the basics.'