About Tai Chi

Important Points

Tai Chi Australia in Mandarin

The following three sections on this page will help you with your Tai Chi practice.

Eight Important Points of Tai Chi Practice

1. Softness
All movements should be relaxed. Exert no unnecessary strength.

2. Ideation
The mind leads and controls the body. Visualise the movement. Qi follows Yi (mind).

3. Slowness
Allows precise control and awareness.

4. Evenness
There should be no stops or gaps. Flow like a great river. Maintain control and coordination of movement.

5. Roundness
Seen in all movements. Limbs should be naturally extended yet relaxed and well rounded.

6. Differentiate Yin and Yang
(Substantial and Insubstantial). There is continual change from substantial to insubstantial. Avoid double weightedness.

7. Breathing
Should be fine, long, calm and slow. Relaxed and ultimately combined with the movements.

8. All Parts Move As One
When one part of the body moves all parts move.

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The Ten Essential Points of Tai Chi

1. Suspend from the crown. Hold the head and neck naturally erect. Do not strain, otherwise the blood and Qi cannot circulate smoothly.

2. Sink the chest and pluck up the back. The chest should be slightly concave to enable the Qi to sink to the Dan Tian. It is believed that this allows the Qi to attach to the spine and great force can then be launched from the spine. Do not protrude the chest, otherwise the breathing will be forced and you will be top heavy.

3. Relax or song the waist. The waist controls the movement. When the waist is relaxed the feet will form a firm base. All the movements depend on free movement of the waist. Vital Force comes from the waist. If there is a fault in the movement look to the waist.

4. Differentiate substantial and insubstantial. It is of prime importance in Tai Chi to distinguish between Xu (empty) and Shi (solid). If unable to make this distinction then movements will be slow and clumsy, the stance unsteady and one is readily unbalanced.

5. Sink the shoulders and elbows. The shoulders should be maintained in a natural, relaxed position. If the shoulders lift the Qi will also lift and the whole body lacks power. If the elbows are lifted then the shoulders will also lift.

6. Use the mind and not force. In practicing Tai Chi the whole body is relaxed to enable a free flow of Qi. Movements will then be light, nimble, circular and spontaneous. It is said that flow of Qi in the meridians is hampered by muscular force. One should thereforce use the mind and not force as Qi will follow Yi (mind or consciousness).

7. Coordination of upper and lower. According to the theory of Tai Chi, the root is in the feet, the force is issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the hands. The feet, the legs and the waist are in harmony. There must be a continuous circuit of the Qi from the feet to the legs to the waist. If just one part is not synchronized then the movement will be disconnected and there will be confusion.

8. Internal and external coordinate. The mind is the leader and the body is at its command. With tranquility of the mind the movements will be gentle and graceful. The mind should see what the body is trying to achieve. Perfection is achieved when the two are unified and harmonized into a complete whole.

9. Continuity or mutually joined and unbroken. In Tai Chi the focus is on the mind and not force; the movements from beginning to end are complete and continuous, circular and unending just like a river that flows without end or like reeling silk thread from a cocoon.

10. Seek stillness in movement. (Stillness means tranquility). In practicing the form the slower the movement (within reason) the better the results. When the movements are slow the breathing can then be fine, long, calm and slow, and the Qi will sink to the Dan Tian. This has a soothing effect on the body and mind. There is no elevation of pulse or breathing rate.

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The Essential Points of Swordplay

The sword is the leader of all the weapons and has a long history in Chinese Martial Arts. In fact, we can't identify where the sword originated. Practicing the sword is not only aimed at martial defense, but also a practice for control of the mind and physical health. This is defined as Internal Sword and External Sword. External Sword is more strength and speed while Internal Sword is focused on softness and slowness. The Tai Chi sword forms should follow first and foremost be practiced applying the 10 essential points of Tai Chi Practice (link).

The basic Tai Chi Sword forms are composed of 13 basic movements including slashing, scraping, snapping, chopping, piercing, stabbing, throwing, swinging, whipping, penetrating, scooping, raising and circling. When we perform the movements, they should be like the dragon flying in the sky - balancing the Yin and Yang of softness and hardness, stillness and motion.

Good sword technique depends upon the strength of the wrist. If you need to improve this skill, it is important to do some wrist exercises such as twisting the wrist, turning the wrist with the first, moving the wrist up and down and then relaxing the wrist. All of these exercises can increases the strength of the wrist which will assist with exercises incorporating the sword.

The next important point is use of the fingers. There are different ways to grip the sword depending on the movement you are trying to accomplish. Normally, when moving the sword, you only grip the sword with three fingers - thumb, index finger and middle finger - the third and little fingers stay next to the middle finger. When the movement is going to stop or start to do a more forceful manoeuvre, then the fingers are gradually held firm eg. Stabbing. After this the fingers return to the softer hold.

The coordination of the movement is very important. You must put spirit into displaying the movements so they become one. If not unified the sword movements and the body will be hard to balance. The lower limbs are a most important part to enable a firm, powerful and stable base hopefully leading to a very graceful display of the form.

The sword fingers are also essential. The sword fingers should be used by the practitioner as a method of concentrating the mind and body. The body of the sword should be spiritful and energized and its movement followed by the eyes. If the tassel twists around the sword or the hand, that means the movement is not correct or the wrong strength has been used.

Generally if you want to get a good result in the sword, you must have a good foundation in the Tai Chi Fundamentals. You must focus the mind and body with the movement and internal strength of the sword so they all move as one.

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