Taiji Quan - the wonderful art
by Jaleen Ho
"Wow, you looked much sturdy". That's the remark I have from friends after few years of training under RCTTC. I must take this opportunity to thank Shifu for what I am today. I remember Shifu used to say I'm like a piece of toufu, breaks easily but now, I have become a piece of taukwa, hahaha. Big thank you to Shifu and Taiji Quan - the incredible gift left to us by the ancients.Taiji Quan is a special form of exercise that can prevent and cure illnesses by facilitating the unobstructed circulation of qi and blood. Although a gentle and relaxing exercise, it is actually a form of martial arts that does not use outward strength or force in the movements. It can be developed into an effective system of self-defence if mastered correctly. Taiji Quan teaches us not to resist and develops both the body and mind.
I understand that little will be achieved if there's only imitation of movements without focusing on the inner requirements of Taiji Quan. To understand Taiji Quan by only the outer movements is like trying to look inside a room through a small window. I need to enter the room to see clearly the full picture of Taiji Quan. A person needs to lead and teach to improve and have a better understanding of Taiji Quan.
I learn to incorporate change by varying my postures based on goals and physical capabilities to develop the posture individually to actualize the principles of Taiji Quan instead of trying to imitate the teacher's posture. It requires you to experiment creatively with movement and energy in your quest for breakthrough to greater levels of mastery.The 'master key' to Taiji Quan is devoting time and energy to practise. By understanding and applying the basic principles to Taiji practices, our Taiji will get better as we continue to refine it. Shifu always remind us to have many hours of practice, experimentation, makes mistakes till you finally learn how to relax and let the movements come naturally. When practising Taiji Quan, relaxation and movement with thought is required and the need to imagine the purpose of each posture and use the full concentration of internal spirit.
The main purpose of learning Taiji Quan is to cultivate inner sensitivity rather than to develop outer strength. Focus on the mind to mobilize the qi (以意带气) finally the qi to mobilize the body (以气运身). There was a stage when I feel qi executing the form. I thought I've a breakthrough and was able to use qi to mobilize the body but I was wrong. I was told that my qi is running wild and I need to control the qi. Shixiong quoted: 'A wild horse can get me nowhere but a tame one can'. In order to tame the qi, one need to be rooted and in order to be rooted, legs must be strong. When legs are strong, all movements can then be controlled by the kua and waist and whole body connected with full linkage and the whole form flows like a river. A tree without strong roots will be uprooted easily no matter how strong and beautiful it may look.
When executing Taiji Quan, the whole body should be light and agile. During practice, be careful not to use awkward force; concentrate on relaxing and maintain constant rate throughout. I tried to execute with slowness and roundedness. Practising with slowness requires understanding and perseverance. It also benefits your inner thoughts and emotions. Slowness also let me be aware of the flow of qi throughout my body. Executing Taiji Quan in circles also generate more force than linear motion. A straight strong swind does little damage but a tornado destroys without mercy. I hope I will be able to generate tsunami force one day.
The interrelationship of yin and yang is shown in Taiji Quan as Taiji postures should neither be totally soft(yin) nor totally hard(yang). It also helps to develop healthy yin/yang relationship between mental activity and physical movement. In Taiji philosophy, Yin and Yang complement each other, there's hardness in extreme softness and vice versa. When there's offensive, defensive comes together. The ultimate goals of practising Taiji Quan are to master martial arts and to attain physical rejuvenation or ideally both. What is your goal? To be healthy? Able to defend yourself? Challenge yourself: sharpen your goals so that they are reflections of your will to make real progress and to breakthrough. You must be willing to push distractions from you and do what is necessary to accomplish your goal. If you want breakthrough to the next stage, you must never be satisfied. Only your hunger for greater achievement will impel you to breakthrough. No negative thinking, excuses will drain your energy and ruin everything. Those who want to be good must be positive.
I hope I will be able to attain a higher level of wellness, happiness and awareness. Last but not least, hoping all advocates of Taiji Quan be able to reap all the potential health benefits from this wonderful art.