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Principles  of  Tai  Chi  Chuan

Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight.

Tao Te Ching (22)

Hold the head, as if suspended from above by a string from the crown of the head - avoid a “stiff neck,” or inclining head side-to-side. Eyes gaze into “infinity.” The tip of the tongue rests on the roof of the mouth, lips/teeth lightly touching. Feeling “suspended from above” helps weight sink and whole body to relax.

Sink the shoulders and drop the elbows - both should feel suspended from frame of the body “clothes on a hanger”, wrists are soft, flexible and agile. Arms are always rounded/curved in movement. If shoulders are lifted, qi will rise with them and the whole body will disconnect, “short circuit” and lose strength.

All movements depend on the action of the waist; inaccurate movements can always be traced back to erroneous movements of the waist. If the waist is relaxed, foundation will be stable - you’ll have an easier time shifting your weight/balance, protecting qi, keeping power. If power is lacking, look for the cause in the waist area.

The waist is the “ruler of the body.” As the earth revolves around the sun, all parts of the body revolve around the “axle of the waist.” When moving from your center, you will be able to sustain attack from any direction.

The mind remains focused on the middle/tan tein. You pivot, roll and move from the waist, using the feet to form a strong base/foundation. The juncture of the pelvis and thighs are relaxed. The hands and arms never move unless powered from the center/waist. The correct movement can only come if the waist is relaxed. As the universe moves, so does the body - as one - all connected, in balance and harmony.

Soften knees - slightly curved/bowed. . . Never extended knees beyond toes. Move from the waist, NOT from the knee, or the knee can become misaligned and easily injured.

Spine is relaxed, vertical, tailbone is tucked under. Coccyx in central, stable position - cradles “tan tien.”

Relax/hollow/empty chest, arch back slightly. Keep “frame” of shoulders and hips (don’t “warp” frame). Don’t lift shoulders; they are slightly forward so back “arches”, but remains erect.

Keep heel firmly rooted in the ground; feet sunk and rooted. Energy is rooted in feet, developed in legs, directed/transformed by waist, expressed by hands. Sink chi to the “bubbling well,” as well as receiving chi through the same point. DO NOT SHIFT WEIGHT UNTIL THE FOOT IS ROOTED! Both legs connected as if one (use image of sand or liquid as a guide when moving).

Tilt pelvis; round the groin. The lower the body area controlling the movement, the more relaxed the upper body. Feel your feet; be aware of your calves, lead from tan tien. Use image to keep space between legs round, pelvis in and tilted (so buttocks do not protrude). Never expand chest.

Weight of body should rest mostly on one foot; never “double weighted” except for beginning and ending. Energy of body is like an “X”: Right hand connected in line to left foot, and likewise opposite side. Yin-Yang (very important): Clearly separate positive-negative; substantial-insubstantial; empty-full. Keep in mind the principal of opposites. Even though weight may be more on one leg, without mental awareness (internal-external Yin-Yang), you can’t distinguish, and movements will be “just movements” and NOT Taijiquan.

Move the body like the rhythm of the ocean - flow like the great river. Entire body remains unified/integrated - all parts connected without interruptions. Each part of the body connected to every other part: If one part does not move, it will disconnect the whole body/form; (then cannot remain balanced, Yin-Yang). Move like a cat. Move like “unreeling silk.” Each movement without interruption or unevenness - waist turns like an axle on a wheel in motion. THERE IS UNITY BETWEEN UPPER AND LOWER BODY. When you move, EVERYTHING is in motion, when still, EVERYTHING is still, when in stillness, be as the great mountain. When moving, move like the great river.

Mind NOT muscles, control movement.

Body should feel transparent - fuse inner and outer - relax and release the whole body.

Eyes concentrate on direction of qi flow.

Wait for movement within stillness - seek stillness within the motion.

Do NOT use stiff force.

Keep qi in tan tien; don’t allow it to rise to the chest.

Achieve maximum effect with least effort (no legs on snakes!).

Be like needle in cotton.

Form continuous circuit - all synchronized without interruption.

Relax. . . Relax. . . Relax. . . It takes more strength to let go than hold on - not being relaxed means you’re ready and willing to receive a “beating” (physically, mentally emotionally, spiritually). Don’t allow others to get a “handle” on you. Relaxed means always having the “upper hand,” (the highest consciousness). “You don’t move, I don’t move; you move slightly, I move first.” Meet hardness with softness - hardness will be reduced to nothing. Be like a whip - float through air, snap, crack, and float back through air.

Act appropriately to the moment.

Keep deep respect for self, all others, and all life. Keep balance and harmony - the movement of Taijiquan is like the movement of the universe.

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