Thursday, 18 June 2009

To 'get' the ch'i you must separate the bones and flesh.

There are two aspects of the body which we need to separate : the bones, and the muscles, or flesh.

The bones are the support structure of the body and, the spaces between the bones, or joints, are drawn out away from each other. This is achieved with an expansion out in every direction using the mind intent. It is important not to use the muscles directly with some kind of physical effort but to open into the feeling of expansion. It is a mistake to allow the body to collapse into itself closing the spaces between the bones.

The bones are aligned from the feet and create a connection through the body so that you can feel a mechanical connection to the hand or wherever you wish to exert force.

The muscles are relaxed and loose as far as possible. The ch'i passes between the muscle layers and unifies the feeling of the body as a whole. With a coordinated and unified feeling in the body it is possible to generate various different forces. The simplest and easiest force to generate is like a wave ripple that begins at the foot and passes through the body to the hand. It is created with the mind intent. In the early stages of development and refinement there can be some movement of the bone structure but without losing the alignment and coordinated function.

The separation of bone and flesh is important for health because the pathways of ch'i are opened and activated more strongly when applying this principle.

The muscles structure gradually changes and the body looks increasingly like that of a child as the muscles appear to puff outwards with a rounded contour. The muscles are relaxed and fill out with ch'i.

Bristol 18.06.09

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Unique Features of the Sword Form

The movements of the sword form are generally bigger with larger circles. There are movements which open the body much more than say the short form. This is especially true of the spine itself. During the preparation exercises the body twists and articulates all of the vertebrae.

When arousing the ch'i there is also a greater intention since the force must pass to the tip of the sword and beyond. There is a corresponding opening of the body to bring the t'ai chi force through the body. So we should do what is necessary to create greater movement of force in both body and mind intent.

The body serves the purpose of the sword in the sense that all the movements of the body are what is necessary to get the force to move through the sword in the appropriate way. The sword moves smoothly and with continuity. This is achieved with the whole of the body coordinated from the feet and not just produced at the level of the wrist. The sword is not moved using the muscles of the wrist acting independently. When the sword is moving the whole arm is moving.


When we practise internally the mind needs to be clear and uncomplicated and then when intention arises the ch'i will follow. If there are any extra, unnecessary movements or mental distractions the ch'i will not follow.

There are many ways in which the force will be weakened by an unfocused mind or disharmonious body action, or even by an incorrect understanding of application.

At the beginning the important techniques to create as habits are as follows :
  • first get the ch'i
  • the movements of the body must be harmonious and continuous without hesitation
  • the mind moves first, directing the ch'i, the body follows.
Adjust the body/mind :
  • Relax deeply
  • open the joints
  • sink the substantial feeling of ch'i
  • Raise the shen
Perhaps the most obscure instruction is to 'raise the shen.' It is difficult to explain without any ambiguity. To point at the meaning it is easier to refer to examples of heightened shen such as the 'feeling of being inspired,' or the 'sense of awe,' or 'great compassion,' and so on. You can say that there is an alertness but it is on a more subtle, fundamental level of consciousness and not the kind of alertness which we may experience when we know we need to respond quickly... like playing 'snap.'