My Learning Taijiquan Experience, part 2
by Jerard Lim
Time flies. My last entry or blog in 2009 after my first year of learning Tai Chi Chuan with Master Chong, I think I have made some progress and would like to share my thoughts.
After knowing the steps of Chen Man Ch’ing 37 steps is not enough to grasp the art of Tai Chi Chuan, as reminded by Master Chong constantly, there are many finer points to learn and master. Even until today, Master Chong says he is still leaning to master each step. So it is true, as he imparts particular movement finer points in each session. To be proficient, we should practice until we can feel the Chi flowing right up to our finger tips with a tingling sensation and moving by mind control.
Some points I have learnt and experienced:
- The upper torso is moved by the Kua movement (joint at the hips), the swinging of the arms and hands are moved by the twisting of Kua
- Learn to relax the upper body not only when performing Tai Chi movement but also during warm up exercise and breathing exercise
- I discovered that when my legs are stronger than before, I am able to have a more relax upper torso, so I need to practice strengthening my legs more
- During mediation, I allow my hands be floated during breathing thus it moves slightly up and down and at times I feel that it is moving by itself or sub-consciously (perhaps this is what I should feel when performing Taiji Chuan, I think)
- Be conscious of your shoulders to be relaxed when performing breathing exercises and warm up- even kicking, the shoulders are to be relax
- The body should be straight and not bent when performing front kicking
- Feel the sinking of the Chi to the Kua and legs/feet when you start the beginning movement qǐ shì, the legs should feel heavy
- When lifting both hands during qǐ shì, it should feel as if it is being lifted by itself very lightly, when the hands are moved down, there should be a rush of chi to the palms
- The orientation of the hands when moving to single whip or dān biān should be positioned to ward off an attack
- The thumb of your hands should not be more than 20 to 30 degrees from palm, in martial arts application, your thumb will be a weak point should it be pointing outwards from palm (like 90 degrees), the fingers should be slightly apart, straighten and relaxed
- I have experience some times that when moving clouds yún shǒu, when performing very slowing, the finger tips has a strange tingling sensation
- In the single whip or dān biān stance, the legs should be spread apart at the knee level like a horse stance to enable a more solid firm stance
- On the stance again, the horse like stance should also be applied to movement like, step back and repulse monkey dào niǎn hóu, at the end of the ward off with, say, the left hand, the right leg should have about 60% force to enable the left leg to be lift up and kick your opponent if necessary
- When doing the jīn jī dú lì or golden rooster, single stance from right to left transition, the stance (like the bào hǔ guī shān embrace tiger, return to mountain position) when moving both hands from right to left, you should use the Kua to twist to swing both hands, I believe this movement is very much the same for the bào hǔ guī shān (correct me if I am wrong Master
- Breathe normally during Taiji and do not hold up your breath for too long and moving from one stance to another, if you are unable to hold your breath, breathe gently in between
I feel that after learning for the last 4 years, my legs feels stronger and firmer. I am more alert. My Kua has a tired but nice feeling after most lessons as most movement of torso are concentrated there.
There are still many points that I feel I could do better, such as pushing sequence, push hands and also strengthening my legs further e.g. my legs would still tremble after performing repeated Kua thrusting movement during pushing. I would also need to improve on balancing and breathing rhythm as well.
Attending the lessons each week regularly is never an easy thing to do as there are times when either, the day’s event is not good or your body feels tired, I have to constantly push myself and preserve at times but I felt that after training, my body has a nice feeling and is able to sleep well. My palm is very warm after Taiji session (I guess this is the Chi flowing). This nice feeling will last at least the next day. As I continue my journey in Taiji Quan, I hope to improve by picking up as many pointers from Master Chong. It is a worthwhile investment.
My gratitude, Master Chong.