Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Question : How to open the inner joints of the spine?

As the body becomes more relaxed and the substantial ch'i sinks to the lower tan tien and the feet so the body is able to move from the feet and the mind is able to lead the force through the body. All of this opens all the major joints of the body.

To open the spine in particular it is good to suspend the head as if by a thread. There is an upward feeling at the acupuncture point 'Meeting of a Hundred Yangs' (Du 20) which is created by the mind intent. The ch'i here feels as if it is lifting. The body ch'i feels as if it sinks from this point in a downward direction. This should be applied to every t'ai chi position.

However, sometimes our body is so blocked that we cannot open the spine with these methods. Then it is good to use muscles to stretch in an upward direction and use exercises involving twisting the spine and so on.

White Crane Spreads Wings is a posture which brings the force very strongly through the spine and this can open each space between the vertebrae as the force rises. The force is brought through the right arm and issued from the wrist. Remember the body is rising in this posture and extending vertically at the same time the heavy relaxed downward force is sinking. It is the only posture in the form where this occurs. Golden rooster stands on one leg is also very upright but here the force is brought to the rising hand and the knee. There is also a potential kick from this posture.

Question :

Question : Is there a link between the full leg/foot and the opposing empty arm/hand? It seems to me that the hands and feet are linked together in some way which follows the yin yang principles, so in moves like push which hand controls the energy?

All parts of the body are linked with all other parts. Then in relation to the movement of dynamic forces through the body or t'ai chi force there a variety of ways that the forces can be moved through the body or enabled naturally through the feet and through the body.

These techniques are not easy to express through text alone. However, I will try to outline my understanding which I know to be incomplete.

In a posture such as brush left knee push. The right foot directs the force of the whole body coordination to the right hand. This is sometimes referred to as 'jin.' Simultaneously there is a rising force which is conducted through the hand with the mind intent and both feet are involved but especially the front foot. In addition there can be spiral forces enhanced by the lowering of the elbow during the act of pushing which rotates the right elbow. Rotation of the elbow is a common feature in the t'ai chi forms to enable the issuing of spiral force.

In a posture such as single whip the back foot is pushing the right hip forward directing a spiral force through the body, enhanced by the rotation of the left elbow and issued from the left hand. So this force is conducted diagonally through the body.

The wonderful principle which is expressed throughout t'ai chi and even in chinese medicine is that opposites create each other. So if I am receiving a force on my left which involves the process of emptying; I am also expressing a force on my right which is becoming more full. It important to understand the these are all active and dynamic movements. So many people use t'ai chi for relaxation and do not balance this yin aspect with the active yang aspect. For example the force of an opponent is received into the body on one side and is channelled through to the other side in many applications. The two sides seem to be different in the way that our mind labels them but the way that we feel and experience them is really as one circle which also includes the force of the other person which is returned to them. They are part of the circle.

It is worth contemplating the movement of these forces throughout the form.

The Swallow Flies into the Nest and The Clever Cat Catches the Mouse

Turn with the idea of efficiency... get the force going to the diagnonal without excess or deficiency. Practise the rhythm of the movement to keep a connection with the force.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Quick responses in Pushing Hands

Many people know the basic techniques of pushing hands and do everything correctly and yet when someone goes to push them they cannot apply their responses quickly enough.. why is this?

When receiving the force of another there is no time to prepare. All preparation must have been completed before your opponent begins the attack.

If you have not sunk your substantial feeling to the feet then it is too late.
If you have not connected to the feet to advance or retreat then it is too late.
If you have not brought the 'sensing ch'i' to the surface of your body and extended towards your opponent then it is too late.
If you have not separated full and empty then it is too late.
If you do not meet your opponent before they touch you then it is too late.
If you did not balance your opponent's action before touch then it is too late.

It is a state of readiness, alertness and responsiveness. It is also 'light spirit.'

Question :

"If the body is balanced and full in the right foot and I am ready to step, I have noticed a sticking sensation in the left foot and visa versa.. is this normal, it sometimes feel very difficult to raise the empty foot."

It is possible that this is the ch'i of the foot which is linking in with the ch'i of the ground. But my guess is that any difficulty of emptying one leg completely is due to not sinking enough and not bringing lightness to the upper body and practising 'light spirit.'

There are many techniques which relate to stepping. First, the body should be centrally aligned over the fixed foot. Then, when relaxing downwards the sinking force increases. Gradually the other leg will empty and then can be moved with the waist. At this time the sinking is constantly increasing during the act of stepping. The body then can function as a whole without breaks. The body actually behaves like a balance. When the substantial goes down on one side there is a corresponding upward force on the other. This is created in the beginning with the mind although it is, in fact, natural. It is not at first an easy matter to get the body light, responsive and behaving as a unified whole. It is the ch'i and mind together that connects all the parts of the body and then using the principles of t'ai chi movement the unity of feeling can be maintained whilst stepping.

It can help to apply the principle that the body is suspended from the crown as if by a thread.
Bristol 28.07.09

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The action serves the function : Sword form

To apply the posture 'The swallow flies into the nest' it important to be efficient with the sword. The tip of the sword moves directly towards the line of the attack without any wavering or loss of direction. To achieve this turn without losing force the arm movement, coordinated with the body movement pushes through to the tip with quite a large arc. The sword does not withdraw during the turn but moves towards the corner.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Coordination of the Sword

When we wish to bring the t'ai chi force to the sword, at the beginning stage, we must be careful to coordinate the body movement with the sword.

When we bring the edge down we sink the substantial within the body and shift the central balance of the body over the foot. When we turn the sword, preparing for the cut, we place the empty foot in the correct position and step. When we bring the force through the cutting edge we shift the weight to the empty foot.

Each action of the sword is complemented with the action of the body. There is no break.

Friday, 3 July 2009

First postures of the sword form

First Postures of the Sword Form