5.c.viii.-method-for-practicing Section

Method for practicing Chen-style Tai Chi Quan (I)  By Chen Zheng Lei

(taken from his old website)

1.familiar with routine and clear about posture
routine means the whole stance of the boxing, and posture is movement in every routine. For a new learner, it only requires to get familiar with routine and pay proper attention to every posture, after a fixed time, you may know the whole routine, and now you must emphasize each posture, and do the set of exercise in correct way. After this phase which every Taijiquan practitioner should go through, it will gradually generate a kind of internal energy, which have the positive function of health improvement, disease prevention and in attacking and defence. Here I shall discuss training method and points for attention in this very important training phase.
(1). Making movement and stillness in wonderful harmony.
For a beginner, you may often get excited, crazy and stimulated about Tai chi, so your cranial nerve are always in exciting and tense state, and your mind may be affected by internal or external enviorment, all these will do harm to your body as well as to practising Taijiquan, so you must keep easy calm and relax in training, pay full attention to every posture and stepwork, remain aloof and indifferent to any obstruction and disruption, do remember to combine movement with stillness and get them in harmony, you know, practising Taijiquan just like esercising sense gymnastics. Through above training way you can gather and stimulate internal energy effectively, just as a famous saying goes in Boxing Chart “Still and calm nourish your root, internal energy nourish your mind .” here root means your base, your kidney. According to traditional Chinese medicine, kidney is humans’ esential root, and internal organs are the basic original power of our body.It’s difficult to keep your mind calm for a new learner, the reason is that you are not accostomed to new stimulus, it takes a little courage, a little determination and a little self-control to overcome this difficulty and get used to it gradually after a long time practising.
(2). Paying attention to your movement
it’s not suitable for a new learner to require very high level and act with undue haste. This process is just like learning how to write Chinese characters, at the beginning, it's enough to bear in mind to compose all strokes in a square , the same principle in learning Tai Chi Quan, just keep head in naturally way, your body upright, not slanting, and can understand crook step. empty step, out and restrain footwork, know direction of every movement well. In this training phase may rise some common mistakes, such as tilted shoulder, shaking in hands and feet, breathe too quickly and heavily , though these are unavoidable, you must be conscientious about position, action angle and movement order in every routine, work hard to obtain softness in posture and coherence in practicing Tai chi. You can get skilled in routine if you Insist on training 10 times a day for two months, then you can go further practice to correct and adjust each posture, please don’t act with undue haste in this phase, by the way of slowness in movement you can find and correct false step and try to figure out the romantic charm of Tai chi. With this real correct training method, practicing 10 times a day for another period, then you can enter the second phase.
2. position- adjusting and relaxation
only under the state of relaxtion you can adjust and correct position effectively, so you should put more emphasis on the relaxtion practise. In order to relax bone joints and vein, you can drill yourself with the execises of hitting out with sudden force.,such as “Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar” “Covering hands and Strike with Arm” “kicking and Crossing legs”etc. remember not use clumsy force in the whole training. There is a saying in the Boxing Discuss “ the more you learn it, the more you feel wonderful it is”. Since you’ve already knowledge the whole routine of the first phase, furthermore you should adjust every footstep,movement and posture, so as to enter the state of complete relaxtion. The following are some mistakes and requirements in the second phase: head and body are not very upright, natural, and elbows are not proper lowered, that’s because you can’t understand the relaxation concept, and it’s rather difficult to go and struggle for the relaxation destination,moreover there is still no sufficient sustain strenth from your legs. Just as Disguss Taijiquan says, “being upright and relaxation is the basic and most important step”, that is to say when practising you must hold the principle as the basic point, so called “upright “ have two kinds of explaination, one is proper position, not slant in your head, body and limbs; the other refers to when under the case of your body rightly inclined, keep relative gravity balance of mechanics, we can illustrate the point by the movement of up-go and down-walk; so called relaxation means, under the support of your legs, coordinate all parts of your body and keep them in natural and loosen state. This training method can help you collect Qi into Dantian (the public region), you may be negligent of it or can’t understand well, so these mistakes can not be avoided in a short time, to overcome these mistakes not only by refering to “ Chen-style taijiquan’s requirements to organs all over the body”, but conscienciously understanding internal sense for relaxation and body-uprighting, in training you can add your own view and guess , and at the same time, based on individual physique, accordingly increase times of training, some execrises like Single Leg, Legs and Stake are very helpful, these drill can strenthen your legs, get relaxation in each posture, move down your chest,back,rib and midriff muscles, so breath and movement will be cooperate more effectively, breathe more naturally, enhance vital capacity, keep your head upright, stand proper, then crook your knees, circle your hip under the state of hipbone relaxation, but must be careful about your hands posture, let your hands start the ball roolling and don’t be supple. It takes you about 3 or 4 months to adjust and correct your movement and posture. and inducing energy gradually with the deepening of your Kongfu, this phase is called Inducing Energy by External Movement, in this period someone may feel internal energy generated in your body, but not continue generating, just like water without source,or a tree without roots.inside empty and outside hard, the manifestation is that there is full of energy all over the body, but feel ability not equal to your embition and top heavy in case of attacking.
3. Smoothing Jingluo,generating internal energyJingluo(main and collateral channels) has the meaning of route, path, network,etc. they tied each other in complexity all over the body from internal organs to external skin, so through this network of passages, vital energy circulates endlessly, and along it the accupuncture points are distributed.Qi means quintessence for maintaining and preserving life, it’s too small to be seen, only through sense organs and various changes taken place in your body ,can testify the exsistance of the magical material ------ Qi. There are several sources to generate Qi, the first is inheritance from your parents,the second is from digestion and absorption of food, and the third one is exsisted in nature, all above comhensively generated Qi by the physiological function of spleen lungs and kidney. Qi is original a term coming from traditional Chinese Medicine, , it gradually become a basic conception when it’s used in Wushu field, which has specific Kongfu intension and refers to internal energy. Stimulating and inducing internal energy must be baced on Qi which from inheritance and an acquired one, in Discuss Taijiquan writen by Chen Xin, say that Qi is a kind of inhetited material,which can be induced and stimulated only under the condition of Jingluo unblocked, in addition it can play an very important role in disease preventing, attacking and defence.As what I ‘ve already writen in “Ajusting posture and relaxtion all over the body”, in this period you may feel internal energy flowing in your body, and get more interested in this kind of Kongfu execrise.but just because Jingluo being blocked, internal energy like wave upon wave, gernerate or disapear now and then in this period. Qi in Wushu field have double meanings----- material and spirit. When obtain perfection in Tai Chi Quan skill, gradually will generate a mysterious and profound sense, which only can be sensed, not explained in words.
The route or path for Qi is located between Jing luo and muscles, it nourish internal organs as well as external completion and it will flow all over your body if the Jing luo is unblocked, just like irrigation principle. There are also some unavoidable mistakes in this phase: stiffness and slanting in hands and shoulder posture which difficult to make Qi get to the end of our body(fingers and toes), so please make full use of your will and make it guide your movement. In movement-gathering for example, hands lead elbow, elbow leads shoulder which leads your waist; in spreading movement, waist leads shoulder, shoulder leads elbow, elbow leads hands. By using twining force, let your turning wrist lead arm, your turning waist lead back, if feel not natural or comfortable, you can adjust posture yourself by the standard of inducing energy effectively. Practice slowly in the whole process, put full of energy in each movement, try to mach your internal energy and the will with your external form, and not be clumsy in postures, stimulate internal energy regularly according to the posture requirements without any interruption or letup, remember practice makes perfect.
It’s likely to arise the feeling of losing confidence and giving up half way in this period, just because some mistakes can not be avoided, such as slanting in head and shoulder, internal energy not flowing continously, action not match your will, and can’t make your internal energy into full use in Pushing hands , all these objective facts may lead you to misunderstand your coach for not teaching the perfect part, so this may make you further upset. As a andient saying goes, “ There are thousands of Wushu practitioners, but only few of them can be successful, because most of them giving up half way in this phase”. Grandmaster Chen Xin commented the situation said: “ some people regard Tai Chi Quan as very mysterious Kung-fu exercise and not willing to tell the secret. But as far as I know, it’s nothing miracle, just make determination to practice Tai Chi in normal and correct method for long time. I believe you will get the true color of this romantic shadow boxing finally. All above testify the famous saying: “practice makes perfect.”
4, body action matching internal energymake form match internal energy like circle without ending, here form means external movement, internal energy not only comes from inheritance, food you eat and the grant nature, but from Dan tian(the diaphragm), under the control of your head ,these micro particle can flow all around your body, according to traditional Chinese medicine, body and internal energy should act in unity, mutual aid and cooperation.
In Boxing Chart, heart means a kind of thinking activity dominated by cerebrum, so in every action and movement, you must pay attention to direct your strength by concentration, and let internal energy control your movement, practice attentively in this way for a long time, remember any way constant effort yields sure success.Now you ‘ve already got a good knowledge about the combination of Qi and movement, in this phase , making your waist be axle, practice successively and Qi control your action regularly, requires you act in unison, once move, all move; once stop, all stop, all postures and movement should cooperate naturally, but in reality you may fail to coordinate all your activities, so this can affect the internal energy’s smooth flow and can’t make hands and body act in harmony and graceful system. In Boxing Secret, said “you must be attacked or hit ,if your hands fail to follow your movement of body, on the contrary you may hit your opponent easily just like cutting been curd with knife” .the saying illustrates that the cooperation between body and internal energy play an very important role in attacking and defense. There are still other unavoidable mistakes in this phase, for example, shoulder move first in hands-opening, do pay attention not have curve and crook movement, just straighten your back, but not stick out your chest. Under the premise of knowing essentials for each movement, gather the contradictions together, then crush one by one , don’t attend to one thing and lose sight of another, and naturally make your external movement match internal energy. In Ten Important Essentials in practicing Tai Chi Quan grand master Chen Chang-xing said “ heart go with will, Qi flow according with strength, the veins match with bones coordinating hands and feet, elbow go with knee, harmonizing shoulders and hip; left hand go with right foot, left, left elbow go with right knee, left shoulder go with right hip; head go with hands, hands go with body, body move with footwork, liver go with veins, spleen go with muscles, lungs go with body, kidney go with bone, in a word, once move, all move; once stop, all stop. In this phase, emphasis must be placed on the combination of thought and posture, and make your idea, thought, internal energy and external form in perfect harmony, thus your internal energy can reciprocate and repeat itself in endless cycle. Another point you should understand is that some opening-closing is partial display of the whole opening-closing, the general fault can be found through partial mistakes, so when adjusting ,you must pay attention to the whole body in the state of all-around body relaxation. Insist on practicing 15 times a day for three years, you will have the following uncommon feeling: muscles expansion, having pins and needles in your figures, feeling heavy in feet and Dan tian point, but still don’t have enough power in combat , and ability not equal to your ambition in attacking, that’s because you don’t know your opponent well, and don’t understand the theory of leading into and falling through, can’t get the skill of sticky and adhesive Kung fu. After this phase, you only reach the level of “20% Yin and 80% Yang, being new learner.”