To Exercise Tai Ji Quan Step by Step by Li Jianfang
Xingtai first named Ren (the thing standing for water in Wu Xing) in ancient times, and then named "Big Land Lake". There is a poem of Song Dynasty expressed its natural scenery and custom, The Wave of Big Water Land, "How powerful the thousands of layers upon layers of wave, as nine water headstreams all come together in one lake here. When it is calm the surface like a mirror reflecting the light; when it is irritating, it is impossible to discern the direction in the lake. In the spring season, fishes jump out of the surface in the drizzle, sparrows flying alertly in the evenfall. In the moonlight, among the aquatic plants, near the bank planting willows, the fishermen are singing the praise song for the lotus flower while sailing." The beautiful natural environment has fostered generations upon generations of industrious, brave and simple people of the "Around Water Village". This people have wide mind, fierce style and love studying Kung-fu since ancient times .There were one Kung-fu winner, one Gongsheng and one vice Gongsheng (the glory title for the most capable person in ancient times.) of governor election examination in the latter period of Qing Dynasty alone.
Wang Qihe(1885-1932) was born in "Around Water Village" of Hebei Province. Wang Yongqing, one of his elders, was a Gongsheng. Wang Qihe was a prentice of the master Hao Weizhen and masked the Wu's( ÎäÊ½) Tai Ji Quan. Later he by chance met Yang's Dengpu, the¡¡famous Yang£¨Ñî) Tai Ji Quan master and learned the Yang(Ñî) Style¡¡from him. Hence Wang Qihe's Tai Ji Quan had his own particular¡¡character, his out-push hand posture based on the Wu(ÎäÊ½) Tai Ji Quan, mixed with the character of Yang(Ñî). Mr. Wang Qihe had a very¡¡famous reputation in Xingtai and Ren County. His internal work(ÄÚ¹¦)¡¡reached a very high level, and received more than one thousand students. Today most of those who practice the Wu(ÎäÊ½) Tai ji Quan are his students.
I . Empha- sizing "Xing"The step is foundational. Beginners should learn the movements one by one strictly following rules to make sure the postures and movements are correct. No matter what styles of Tai Ji Quan we are exercising, we must understand the key to posture our bodies, hands, and feet as well as the way to step and move our bodies and hands. Imitate the teachers and adjust the movements to your own body conditions. Keep practicing under the instruction of our teachers. Eventually we will form the correct postures and movements.
Here are some tips for this step:
1. Make sure your body is straight and vertical to the ground. Relax your body and keep your backbone straight. Never bend forward, backward or to the left or right. There are also two tips for achieving this. First, imagine that a string is pulling your head. Second, imagine that a weight is weighing down your backbone. Generally, the upper part of our body should be easy to move, and the lower part should be steady while the middle part is agile.
2. Make sure your way to step is correct. This is the ABC of Tai Ji Quan exercise. For the beginner, the control of strength, the timing to advance, retreat and turn is hard to master. If we put our feet in the wrong place, say, we step too widely, too narrowly or in a wrong direction, we will form a wrong track. Moreover, the whole practice is spoiled. Therefore it is the foundational exercise to practice your steps. You can exercise it either with the movements of your hands or not.
3. Make sure you relax yourself and be natural. Of course we should follow the teachers but we cannot be too formalistic. Give attention to both "Xing" and "Yi". Relax every joint of your body and make your movement natural and decent.
II. Giving Attention to Both "Xing"and"Yi"
In this step, both the awareness and physical movements should be emphasized. We imitate not only the appearance but also the awareness of our teachers~ We would rather use our mind than our strength to guide our movements. Eventually we will gain the understanding of the key to the movements through our practice. The tips are:
1. Consecutiveness. When you have learned the set pattern of the movements, it is important to make each movement consecutive.
2. Form circles or arcs all the time. Because every movemt of Tai Ji Quan is a circle or an arch, always remember to form circles or arches. When praticing, pay close attention to your waist. By turning the waist we move our four limbs. At this moment, the waist is like an axle and hands are similar to wheels.
3. Softness. Tai Ji Quan is based on softness. Softness is good for smoothing breath, regulating spirit and reducing the physical demands. When your body is soft, rather than stiff, both your breath and your circulation of blood are smooth. This guarantees a long life. Moreover the softness will enable us to be more flexible and agile in fighting. It is the characteristics of Tai Ji Quan to win with little force. Once we master it, we can freely move, avoid the force of the rivals and take advantage of our situation to hit them. To achieve this do not mean only keeping even and relaxed. The whole body should maintain harmonious. When moving, the whole body is moving. After a period of time you will be wholly flexible .Then you can be either hard or soft, hide your force in the softness.
III. Emphasizing “Yi”
In this step we mainly practice the “Jing, Qi, Shen”(¾«£¬šâ£¬Éñ)£¬which refers to energy, breath and spirit. The mind will control the body and the inner power will dominate the movement. When exercising, you look like dreaming, nor hesitating or pondering. All your movements are up to your mind. You can be either fast or slow. Then you can transcend all the set patterns in despite of the rules you learned. The tips are:
1. Be agile and fleet. There are some proverbs about Quan: "yi” ju dong, zhou shn ju yao qing ling" That means when moving, your body should be agile and seems very light in weight. And also "Jin shen neng ti qi, ze wu chi zhong zhi yu, yi qi xu huan de ling, nai you yuan huo zhi qu" ( ¾«ÉñÄÜ
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