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.