Jade Dragon Alaska uses continuous and returning fist; Yang style; short (5 move) and long forms (101 moves). Qi Gong (Chi Kung), and push hands basics. Health, internal strength, calm spirit, and a sure technique for self defense.
Moving and standing forms of Embrace the Moon (Standing Pole, Hold the Ball, Hug the Tree), as well as Prayer Hands Qigong for feeling Qi yourself. Moving forms help you adjust your own Qi by testing it.
Tai Chi Philosophy and Energy
Tai Chi circulates energy in your body and heals through increasing the healing life force; qi (chi). Tai Chi movements, and Qigong unblock the energy flow through body energy channels (meridians), as does Acupuncture. Smooth flowing “chi” energy, good energy replaces stagnant energy that causes sickness.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, weak chi energy causes weak body function and therefore illness. Health is dependant upon strong and smooth flowing chi energy . When the cell's own repair mechanisms are able to function with the availability of this energy, healing begins.
The healing of Tai Chi is highlighted in areas where modern medicine has yet to discover effective treatments for: cancer, arthritis, diabetes, neuromuscular diseases, chronic degenerative diseases, and chronic auto-immune diseases. Healing is complimented by other non-prescription therapies, such as diet and herbs.
Chi circulation improves blood and lymph circulation, so it effectively strengthens your immune system. This strengthening, will help in slowing down the effects of cancer, and aid in recovery.
TRAINING: MEAT / MUSCLE '(If) the Qi cannot be manifested in the ending of the meat, then there is quantity of Qi to fill up'
Translated as "Muscles are like a storage bag for Meat",
Best interpretation and articulation I have seen yet, that is in written form.
Some will take this to mean that they should accent their training differently. Views differ whether to literally equate meat with muscles or take direct meaning what was stated with the term meat.
Some different focuses on muscle/meat training...
train the Qi flow to strengthen the muscles for Li;
train muscles to increase the flow of Qi, so the body can hold more Qi, and increase it's capacity for a higher flow rate. I favor the original text, not further processed, and taken literally.
'Xin combines with Yi, Yi combines with Qi, and Qi combines with Li are the three internal combinations'
Processed author's interpretation states; "Once your Qi and Yi combine and the Qi can be led effectively to energize them, then muscular power (Li) can be raised to a higher level and thus the Qi and the Li are combined."
Perhaps this targeted result: 1) is only a means for the overall result of the Li and Qi combining, or 2) perhaps this means the main reason is to raise muscular power, for the sake of itself.
Xingyiquan, Theory, Applications, Fighting Tactics and Spirit, by Liang, Shou-Yu & Dr. Yang, Zwing-Ming, pages 230-231.
Some Tai Chi schools are different in their use of hard force;
by Gu Ruzhang, , translation by Paul Brennan, Aug, 2013
Many internal concepts are explained by Kou Yu Chang (Gu Ru Zhang), not used much in the west. ‘Breathing from the heals’, was documented by Robert Smith in his book Hsing-I –Mind Boxing, but no one else. These internals can be applied to Tai Chi, Hsing Yi, as well as the higher levels of Shaolin:
‘It is commonly said that the ancestor of the external was Damo, and it is called the Shaolin school, while the ancestor of the internal was Zhang Sanfeng, and it is called the Wudang school. Examining their veracity, their names are different but their source is the same: when power is applied in these arts, they do not go beyond the principles of nature and naturalness.
To reveal is a feature of the external, to conceal a feature of the internal’ , Gu Ruzhang
Most Tai Chi practitioners have the head; ’ as if suspended above by a string’, whereas Gu Ruzhang emphasizes, as in Hsing Yi: ‘Forcelessly press up your headtop’
Some of the other rare concepts are:
‘Power starts from your heel, is transferred through your leg, stored in your chest, moved at your shoulders, and controlled at your waist. In your upper body, your arms are connected with each other. In your lower body, your legs are coordinated with each other.’ …
‘If he puts pressure on my left side, I empty my left side and my right side goes forth, or if he puts pressure on my right side, I empty my right side and my left side goes forth, the energy like a wheel. Your whole body should be coordinated.’
‘Therefore you must treat energy as a wheel and your waist as the axle, your arms united in service of each other.’
Some selected lessons from the book follow.
‘ The first part of this book is concerned with solo practice, with moving in a flowing way, combining movement and stillness, getting your upper body and lower body to be coordinated with each other, and making inside and outside become one. This is called “practicing the essence”, and is the practice of knowing yourself. The second part of this book is concerned with partner practice, with rising and lowering, advancing and retreating, working both sides, moving freely and staying connected, and changing endlessly. This is called “practicing the function”, and is the practice of knowing the opponent. An ancient man said [Sunzi – Art of War, chapter 3]: “Knowing both self and opponent, in a hundred battles you will have a hundred victories.” This is the idea.
- The boxing art in this book values naturalness rather than vigor, and thereby will not diminish the strength you have developed. It is especially “good at nurturing (your) noble energy” [Mengzi, chapter 2a].
- Use this book with particular attention toward self-cultivation. ‘ …
Postscript by Tang Qixian
‘Taiji Boxing was handed down from Wudang. It is deemed an internal style of boxing. The key to the art is softness. Within its softness lies its strength. When practicing the solo set, slowly is best. Slow does not mean posing in each posture one after another, for that would only train hesitation. It should be a continuous flow from beginning to end, connected and unbroken, adhering together without interruption.
We constantly observe external stylists trying so hard in all their jumping and shouting. Such training only ingrains a habit of excessive effort. The art of Taiji Boxing does the opposite. To emphasize anger makes one stiff, and to emphasize effort makes one clumsy. How could we talk of nimbleness in such cases? When practicing the solo set, it should be completely natural and not have the least bit of strenuous effort. ‘ …
Author’s Preface, written by Gu Ruzhang of Jiangsu at the Guangzhou Martial Arts Society, 1936
‘Martial arts are a single entity which divides into two schools, internal and external. It is commonly said that the ancestor of the external was Damo, and it is called the Shaolin school, while the ancestor of the internal was Zhang Sanfeng, and it is called the Wudang school. Examining their veracity, their names are different but their source is the same: when power is applied in these arts, they do not go beyond the principles of nature and naturalness.
To reveal is a feature of the external, to conceal a feature of the internal. And so Zhang Sanfeng has handed down to us what is called Taiji Boxing, which moves according to pure energy. People do not scrutinize sufficiently, saying that the external is all about hardness and the internal is all about softness. Though while we must not overstress this distinction, we also should not ignore it. ‘ …
Preface by, Guo Qifeng ,written by Guo Qifeng of Gushi [in Henan] at Yangcheng [older name for Guangzhou].
V. THE TAIJI BOXING CLASSIC OF WANG ZONGYUE OF SHANXI OF THE MING DYNASTY – WITH COMMENTARY [by Chen Weiming – text copied from his 1925 book] (Taiji Boxing is also called Long Boxing or Thirteen Dynamics)
Taiji is born of wuji, and is the mother of yin and yang.
Yin and yang [the passive and active aspects] are generated from taiji [the grand polarity], which comes from wuji [no polarity]. In Taiji Boxing, every part of your body divides into either empty or full, i.e. passive or active. That is why this boxing art is called Taiji.
When there is movement, the passive and active aspects become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.
When my body does not move, it is a taiji all over. Once it moves even a little bit, then passive and active become distinguishable.
Neither going too far nor not far enough, comply and bend then engage and extend.
When connecting and sticking to an opponent, adapt to his movement and act according to it. When he bends, I extend. When he extends, I bend. I closely join with him, neither running away nor crashing in. Do not let yourself even slightly commit the errors of either going too far nor not far enough.
He is hard while I am soft – this is yielding. My energy is smooth while his energy is coarse – this is sticking.
If he is hard and I am hard, then we are both resisting each other. If he is hard and I am soft, then we are not obstructing each other. Unobstructed, there is yielding and neutralizing. When I yield and neutralize, his power goes off center and his energy turns coarse, while my posture remains centered and my energy stays smooth. By sticking to his coarse energy with my smooth energy, then even if he has strength, he will have no access to it.
If he moves fast, I quickly respond, and if his movement is slow, I leisurely follow. Although there is an endless variety of possible scenarios, there is only this single principle [of yielding and sticking] throughout.
My speed depends on his. When it does not come from myself, I am automatically able to stick and connect continuously. But if my arms are not fully relaxed, and if I am not keeping myself from allowing the smallest bit of awkward effort, then I will not be able to follow him and thereby skillfully close on him. If my arms use effort, then I am getting distracted by the pleasure of acting from myself and will be incapable of letting go of myself to follow him. Because the movements change their direction and speed, “there is an endless variety of possible scenarios”.
Although they are different, my sticking and following is a constant principle.
Once you have ingrained these techniques, you will gradually come to identify energies, and then from there you will work your way toward something miraculous. But unless you practice a lot over a long time, you will never have a breakthrough.
“Ingraining the techniques” means practicing the solo set to train the essence and the pushing hands to apply it. With “a lot of practice over a long time”, you will naturally come to identify energies and then become miraculous.
Forcelessly press up your headtop. Energy sinks to your elixir field. Neither lean nor slant. Suddenly hide and suddenly appear.
Stand like a scale. Move like a wheel.
To stand like a scale means to have the quality of forcelessly pressing up your headtop. To move like a wheel means to use your waist to control the movement. With every part complying with your waist, the movement will be rounded.
The basic of basics is to forget about your plans and simply respond to the opponent. We often make the mistake of ignoring what is right in front of us in favor of something that has nothing to do with our immediate circumstances.
In Taiji Boxing, you do not act from yourself but always according to the opponent. Since his movements will be in some direction, I go along with him in the same direction and send him away along it instead of even slightly resisting against his direction. Thus his attack lands on nothing and he stumbles away all because he himself has used too much power. When you are intent on using a particular technique and are consequently not aware of and not going along with the opponent, this is what is meant by ignoring what is right in front of you in favor of something that has nothing to do with your immediate circumstances.
For such situations it is said: “Miss by an inch, lose by a mile.” You must understand all this clearly.
In Taiji Boxing, when you stick and connect to the opponent, you will respond to the area that you are most closely connecting to, and so it is said that you are not to “miss by an inch”. To slightly separate is to be greatly separated, for you then lose connection with the timing.
Zhuangzi said [Zhuangzi, chapter 6]: “An authentic man breathes with his heels [as opposed to most people who breathe only with their throats].” In Taiji Boxing, the breathing is deep and long. You can either breath up to your head or down to your heels. Therefore when you move, start from your foot. From your foot it goes up through your leg, from your leg up to your waist, and from your waist up to your fingers in a fully continuous process. Therefore in Taiji, when your fingers are used to send away an opponent and he falls, it is not only due to the strength of your fingers, it is power that was undetectably initiated from your heels. Above are the hands, below are the feet, and in between is the waist. When all are coordinated with each other, you will naturally be able to catch the opportunity and gain the upper hand.
If you miss and your body easily falls into disorder, the problem must be in your waist and legs, so look for it there.
If you do not catch the opportunity and do not get the upper hand, it must be that your hands are moving but your waist and legs are not moving. If your waist and legs are not moving, your hands will use that much more effort, causing your body to fall that much further into disorder. Therefore to keep from using effort anywhere, you must make sure to be moving your waist and legs.
This is always so, regardless of the direction of the movement, be it up, down, left, right, forward, back. And in all of these cases, the problem is a matter of your intent and does not lie outside of you. With an upward comes a downward, with a forward comes a backward, and with a left comes a right.
If you want to go up, down, forward, back, left, or right, you must always move your waist and legs, and then you will be able to do as you please. Yet even though you move your waist and legs, inside you have to know yourself and know your opponent, for therein lies the meaning of adjusting according to the situation. If you have no intent, then even though you move your waist and legs, it will be merely a disordered movement.
If your intention wants to go upward, then harbor a downward intention, like when you reach down to lift up an object. You thereby add a setback to the opponent’s own intention, thus he cuts his own root and is defeated quickly and certainly.
When sparring, I adjust according to the situation, constantly and endlessly, so the opponent cannot figure out what I am doing. This will cause him to either watch only himself and cease paying attention to me or to watch only me and cease paying attention to himself, both of which will naturally lead him into being disordered. Once he is in disorder, I am free to issue power.
Empty and full must be distinguished clearly. In each part there is a part that is empty and a part that is full. Everywhere it is always like this, an emptiness and a fullness.
When practicing the solo set, empty and full should be clearly distinguished. When sparring, empty and full must still be clearly distinguished. Although empty and full should be clearly distinguished, you also should be completely aware of the way you are being attacked so as to deal with it properly. When he is empty, I am full. When he is full, I am empty. Fullness suddenly transforms to become emptiness. Emptiness suddenly transforms to become fullness. He does not understand what I am doing but I can understand him, and thereby I always win.
Throughout your body, as the movement goes from one section to another there is connection. Do not allow the slightest break in the connection.
The connecting of the movement through your whole body from one section to another indicates the ability to empty and dissolve, and thereby no sections will jam each other up. In this way he cannot affect my movement and I will be as stable as Mt. Tai. Although you empty and dissolve and no sections are getting stuck to each other, when you move you can nevertheless connect all sections and have them cooperate with each other. It is like the snake of Mt. Chang: “Strike its head and its tail responds, strike its tail and its head responds, or strike its middle and both head and tail respond” [Art of War, chapter 11]. This is the epitome of being nimble and alert.
Think of an iron pole weighing a thousand pounds. Every bit of it is heavy, but if you are very strong you can lift it up with one grab. Then consider an iron chain weighing only a hundred pounds. Even if you are very strong you cannot lift it up with one grab because it is separated into many sections. Now although it is separated into many sections, they are still connected, and practicing Taiji Boxing is the same as this idea. -
XI. TAIJI BOXING’S FIVE-WORD FORMULA, by Li Yiyu
1. The mind is CALM.
If your mind is not calm, it will not be focused, and each movement of your hands, be it forward or back, left or right, will not be in any definite direction. Therefore your mind should be calm. At first your movement will not yet be able to come from yourself, and so you should clear your mind and let your body intuit, going along with the opponent’s movements. Bend and then extend, neither coming away nor crashing in, and do not expand and contract on your own. When the opponent has power, I also have power, but my power beats him to the punch. When he has no power, I also have power [no power], but it is my intention that beats him to the decision. You should constantly pay attention.
Wherever the opponent nears you, your mind should go there. You must neither come away nor crash in, and then you will be able to analyze what is going on.
After doing this for about a year or so, it will become natural part of you. This is entirely a matter of using intention and is not a matter of using strength. Over time, you will reach the point in which you can say “he is under my control and I am not under his”.
2. The body is LIVELY.
If your body is sluggish, advancing and retreating cannot be done smoothly. Therefore your body should be lively. When moving your hands, there must be nothing resembling hesitation. When the opponent’s force hinders even the hairs on my skin, my intention instantly enters his bones and my hands are bracing him, all as one event. If he puts pressure on my left side, I empty my left side and my right side goes forth, or if he puts pressure on my right side, I empty my right side and my left side goes forth, the energy like a wheel. Your whole body should be coordinated. If there is a lack of coordination anywhere, your body will then be disorganized, and you will then have no power. Seek for the problem in your waist and legs. First use your mind to command your body, and follow the opponent rather than yourself. Later your body will be able to follow your mind, yet this moving from yourself will still depend on following the opponent. If you act from yourself, you will be sluggish. If you follow the opponent, you will be lively. If you can follow the opponent, your hands on him will detect in finer detail, weighing the size of his power and being accurate to the smallest measure, assessing the length of his attack and not being off by the slightest bit, and you will advance and retreat always at the right moment. The more you work at it, the more perfected your skill will be.
3. The energy is COLLECTED.
If your energy is scattered, then it will not be stored, and your body will easily fall into disorder. You must cause the energy to collect into your spine. Inhaling and exhaling penetrates and enlivens, influencing every part of your body. Inhaling is contracting and storing. Exhaling is expanding and releasing. Since with inhaling there is a natural rising, take the opponent up. Since with exhaling there is a natural sinking, spit the opponent away. This is the use of intention to move energy, not the use of exertion to force energy.
4. The power is COMPLETE.
The power of your whole body is trained to become a single unit, distinguishing clearly between empty and full. To issue power, there should be a source of it. Power starts from your heel, it is directed at your waist, and expresses at your fingers, issuing from your spine. With it there should also be a rousing of all your spirit. When the opponent’s power is about to be come out but has not yet issued, my power connects with and invades his instantly, neither late nor early, as if my skin is a burning fire or as if a spring is gushing forth. I advance and retreat without the slightest disorder, and seeking the straight within the curved, I store and then issue. Thus I am able to be effortlessly successful. This is called “borrowing his force to hit him with”, the technique of “using four ounces to move a thousand pounds”.
5. The spirit is GATHERED.
With the four above prepared, finally spirit gathers. Once spirit is gathered, then energy is tempered, and this smelted energy then reinforces spirit. Energy is ready to move and spirit is concentrated. Expand and contract are decisive.
Empty and full are distinct. When left is empty, right is full. When right is empty, left is full. Empty does not mean you are in that area completely weak, but that energy should there be ready to move. Full does not mean you are in that area completely stuck, but that spirit should there be concentrated. It is crucial that changes are within your chest and waist and are not external. Force is borrowed from the opponent. Energy is expressed from your spine. How can energy issue from your spine? It sinks downwards, going from your shoulders, gathering in your spine, and concentrates in your waist. This energy going from above to below is called “contracting”. Then it goes from your waist to your spine, spreading to your arms to be applied at your fingers. This energy going from below to above is called “expanding”. Contracting is gathering. Expanding is releasing. When you can understand expanding and contracting, then you will understand passive and active. When you reach this state, then daily work will yield daily refinement, and gradually you will reach the point that you can do whatever you want and everything will happen as you imagine.
XII. THE TRICK TO RAISING & RELEASING, by Li Yiyu
Raise, draw in, relax, and release.
I get the opponent’s body to rise up and I borrow his force. (This has to do with “lively”.) Once I have drawn him in front of me, my power begins to store. (This has to do with “collected”.) I relax my power, but I do not allow it to collapse. (This has to do with “calm”.) When I release, it comes from my waist and legs. (This has to do with “complete”.) -
XIII. ESSENTIALS IN PRACTICING THE SOLO SET & PLAYING HANDS, by Li Yiyu
An earlier teacher said: “If you can draw the opponent in to land on nothing, you can then use four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds. If you cannot draw the opponent in to land on nothing, you cannot use four ounces to move a thousand pounds.” These words are rather vague and a beginner would not understand them. I will explain further so that those who want this skill are in a position to begin and then after much regular training get to possess it:
If you want to draw the opponent into emptiness and use four ounces to move a thousand pounds, you first must know both yourself and the opponent. If you want to know both yourself and the opponent, you first must let go of your plans and just respond to the opponent. If you want to let go of your plans and just respond to the opponent, you first must be in the right place at the right time. If you want to be in the right place at the right time, you first must get your whole body to behave as one unit. If you want to get your whole body to behave as one unit, you first must get your whole body to be without cracks or gaps. If you want to get your whole body to be without cracks or gaps, you first must get your spirit and energy to be ready. If you want your spirit and energy to be ready, you first must rouse your spirit. If you want to rouse your spirit, you must first keep it from being distracted. If you want to keep your spirit from being distracted, you first must get your spirit and energy to gather and collect in your spine. If you want to get your spirit and energy to gather and collect in your spine, you first must get the front of your thighs to have strength, get your shoulders to loosen, and get your energy to sink downward.
Power starts from your heel, is transferred through your leg, stored in your chest, moved at your shoulders, and controlled at your waist. In your upper body, your arms are connected with each other. In your lower body, your legs are coordinated with each other. Power is transferred from within. Gathering is contracting. Releasing is expanding. When becoming still, everything becomes still. Stillness refers to contracting. When contraction finishes, there will be expansion. When there is movement, everything moves. Movement refers to expanding. When expansion finishes, there will be contraction. Then when there is contact, you can turn smoothly and will be strong everywhere. You will then be able to draw the opponent in to land on nothing and use four ounces of force to move his of a thousand pounds.
Whenever you practice the solo set, it is the practice of knowing yourself. Before moving through the postures, make sure your whole body is in accord with the principles as stated above. When the slightest part is off, immediately adjust it. To facilitate this, the set should be done slowly rather than quickly. Playing hands is the practice of knowing the opponent. His movement and stillness must be firmly comprehended. Still examine yourself as well. If I am in good order myself, then when the opponent comes near me, I do not need to act upon him at all, but take advantage of his momentum to find a way in. Connecting firmly to his power, I let him cause himself to fall out. If you do not have a strong position, this is simply a case of double pressure rather than neutralization, and you should seek within passive and active, or contracting and expanding, to fix it. It is said [Art of War, chapter 3]: “Knowing both self and opponent, in a hundred battles you will have a hundred victories.” -
Chapter Three: Taiji Boxing’s Pushing Hands Methods -
STAGE ONE OF EXAMINING ONE’S PUSHING HANDS: THE PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF THE PREREQUISITES FOR WORKING TOWARD IDENTIFYING ENERGIES
A. OPEN & CLOSE, PASSIVE & ACTIVE
The Taiji Boxing Classic says: “Taiji [grand polarity] is born of wuji [nonpolarity], meaning it is the moment when stillness becomes motion, and gives rise to the passive and active aspects. When there is movement, the passive and active aspects become distinct from each other. When there is stillness, they return to being indistinguishable.
This is a sufficient description of the essence of Taiji Boxing. It comes from wuji, and thereby it does through non-doing. It contains within it the manifestations of movement and stillness. If there is stillness within movement, it can calm your mind and harmonize your energy, in order for you to differentiate the opponent’s energies. If there is movement within stillness, it can convert essence to energy to spirit, in order for you to transform the opponent’s energies. When there is movement, there is spreading out, opening, attacking, and outward reeling of silk. When there is stillness, there is rolling in, closing, defending, and inward reeling of silk.
Therefore in every movement in Taiji Boxing, there is no departing from these two kinds of functions. When you open and close with your body, you must have the skill of passivity/activity, which embodies the functions of emptiness/fullness, gathering/releasing, slackening/expanding, and so on. The two opposites must correspond to each other in order to transform in all ways. If you lack either one, no matter how good the other may seem to be, both will be rendered useless.
Thus is explained the “great pole” generating the two polarities, as described above. If you think you will be able to accomplish this without needing to practice the solo set, that these effects have already been trained into you, you will be wrong. And if you think that through practicing only pushing hands you will be able to bring about these functions of open/close and passive/active, you will utterly lack these principles.’
TAIJI BOXING, by Gu Ruzhang, , translation by Paul Brennan, Aug, 2013; pages 4-8,20-23,32-35,125. -
Martial and power building Tai Ch (Taiji) in the book Axe Hand; Hsing-i & Internal Strength Workout available at publisher Lulu.com