Taijiquan and me
by Philomena Wong
After 4 years of practising taijiquan, I realise that knowing the forms is not good enough. One has to aim to improve and hopefully attaining a breakthrough which encompass the transition from hand method to torso method . The followings are the areas that I have to focus on when I practise:
Attaining correct and good posture so that the intention and hopefully the spirit will be there. Another reason for good posture is to avoid injury(especially my knees) in the process of practise. In order to do this I have to understand and study my own body structure and repeatedly practise to find out what is the right positions for my hands and my legs ,so that they complement each other to achieve the intention of the posture and to have a balanced and centred body.
The arms should be held as a curve and the palms need to be in a slight curve with special focus to the centre of the palm. Special attention has to be given to the extension and direction of the fingers as it is the outer expression of the 'qi'. The relative position of the palms also plays a part in determining the availability of 'qi'.
Special attention has to be given to the roundedness and relaxation of shoulders.
Transition from one posture to another
The movements has to be smooth, graceful and continuous. It is like the water in the stream, never ceasing to flow. The separate parts of the body should move together as one unit. Every parts of the body is interlink and do not move independently. All parts are continuously alternating between the extremes of 'yin' and ' yang', open and close, forward and backward, real and apparent (weight and no weight) . The sequence and timing of movements is also important to achieve a ceaseless , smooth and graceful flow.The movements should be in rounded forms (circle, semicircle, elliptical)
Consciously think about the 'kua' in every move. The 'kua' movement should be slightly ahead of hand movement. The 'kua' is the leader and the hand movements are the consequence of the 'kua' movement. I must learn to sink my 'kua' to effect a movement in the extremities. The limbs are like whips connected to a rotating shaft or the arms extended from the traditional chinese toy rattle drum. When one moves everything moves in a sequecial manner. A small movement in the centre can result in large circular movement with great force.
The force should start from the ball of the foot ('Yong quan'), like a gushing stream from the ground, propelling up the legs, though the waist and torso and eventually emitting through the palms and fingers. When directing the force from the ground , I have to work on relaxation of the muscle of the legs and the waist. Prior to achieving this, I need to practise more diligently on strengthening my legs .
The path of learning taijiquan is long and arduous. The more I learn, the more I find myself lacking in many areas. At this stage of my learning journey, I have to continuously remind myself to persevere , to be more observant and meticulous and be more diligent in my practice.