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The long long long long long way ahead

by Moh Weiping

editing and Chinese extracts by Lim Kim Foong

I started learning Taijiquan from Master Chong in 2005. Thinking back over the past five years, this is what I learnt:

Taiji is an art. How well one's Taiji is depends on how well one executes it. Every single person has their own style and pattern. You can play the same form but it is not the same Taiji. Taiji is a personal level when you practice in depth. 

Taiji is a science. It can be explained with physics. It can be broken down using physics momentum. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is a mystery because you still do not understand what you are doing. In science, nothing is exact. Taiji is about minimizing your own coordination errors through practices.

Taiji is a philosophy. Its teachings are more than just forms and styles. Forms and styles is just the tip of the iceberg. Taiji encompasses more than Yin and Yang. The training is the thinking, the thinking is the training. Training without thinking is just like the blind leading the blind. In order to learn Taiji well, you must understand the philosophy behind Taiji. Things move for a reason, things move for no reason. Reason is what we think it is, but it may not be so.

Taiji is about connecting your body parts together. Do you feel that your whole body is connected? Do you feel every part of your body? Do you feel connected? Our whole body is connected together by bones, joints, muscles, nerves, etc. yet most of the time we only feel the muscles strength. Taiji teaches you to feel the inner. It is so easy to feel the muscles in tension but so hard to feel the muscles in relaxation. The coordination between the different parts can be learnt through form. The understanding of the coordination can be learnt through the philosophy of Taiji. 


Taiji is about relaxing. You are not relaxed even if you are not tensed up. Relaxing is not about being not tense. It is more than that. Qi can flow freely only when one is in a relax state. 


Taiji is about finding your root and balance. Feel the ground you are standing on. Find the centre of your gravity when stationary. Know where your centre of gravity is when moving around. Stand still on both legs on the ground yet still feeling relaxed. Once you can find your own root, then you can sink other people force down into the root. The posture is very important. How you stand will affect your relaxation. Most of us are standing, sitting, walking in the wrong posture and position. If your structure is correct, everything will fall into place easily. Incoming force is easily displaced and taken away. 


Taiji is about the state of being. Most of us are too distracted to do things whole-heartedly. We are always multi-tasking and doing a lot of things at the same time. Just stop what you are doing and enjoy the state of being. Do you feel the surroundings and the people around you? Do you feel your Qi? Do you know where is your Qi? Do you know how and where your Qi is flowing? We look but do not see; we hear but do not listen; we touch but do not feel. 


Taiji is about letting go and not resisting. Don’t resist the incoming force and let it through. If you cannot let go, you will not be able to listen to other people’s incoming force and you will end up resisting. Resistance is futile as it is not necessary.


Taiji is about execution. You can talk about this and that. You can discuss about it. But you still need to do it. You can know all the principles and theory but everything is useless unless you execute the principles out.


Taiji is about smoothness. The beginning is the end, the end is the beginning. Every move begins from the last move and every move ends of the next move. When everything is connected together, then there is smoothness. 


Taiji is about timing. Every move and every step have their own timing. Grasp the timing. Moves need certain timing to be meaningful. It is about being fast at the right timing. We practice slowly so that we can go fast. Taiji in practical usage require speed. How fast you can go depends on how slow you can go. Speed without accuracy is useless. 


Taiji is about going slow. Can you slow down all the moves and still make sense of what you are doing? Can you go slowly while still being smooth? Can you maintain the slowness and smoothness at a steady speed?


Taiji is not about right or wrong. There are many interpretations to the same posture. Each of them is right in their own sense when applied correctly. Things are right and wrong when we tried to fit them into our own belief. Taiji is a system. It has a certain structure to it. It has certain principles to follow. The system is refined over the years by many generations. It has resulted in different forms, styles and teachings. Taiji is same and different across the different forms and styles. They are same in principles but different in applications. All forms of Taiji follows the 13 basic postures or 13 basic forms (Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Chai, Lie, Zuo, Kao, Jin, Tui, Ku, Pan, Ding). The styles evolve after many generations through the understandings and interpretations of the Masters. The basics are the same. The training needed is the same. If you can play one style well and understand it fully, you will understand that the training is not the style. Style is a way, a method for you to feel the fundamentals of Taiji through practice. 


Taiji is about nothing: “Wu”. The ultimate state of achievement where you can execute any moves you want without thinking about it. It’s the same as walking and running. We don’t think need to think how to walk and run once we had learnt it. But once we had learnt walking and running, we think we are correct. That’s why we have problems when we are older because we learnt the wrong things from the start or started to deviate and assume we are right because we can still walk and run. Have you ever stopped and think about the way you walk and run? If you can think you can execute any moves you want without thinking, how can you be sure you are correct over the years? That is why Taiji is a never-ending journey.

I still don’t get it. Do you? That is why I am still in the “Mountains”. It is still a long long long long long way to understanding.



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