Four Basic Tai chi Principles
Of the many Tai Chi principles there are four that are worth extra consideration in a Tai Chi practice. The study of the principles isn't intended as an academic exercise but rather should be applied and understood as a way of using the body and as physical sensations.
A study and application of these simple principles in any situation will allow a person to practice Tai Chi at any time regardless of whether they remember the exact sequence of the form or not.
- As practiced in Tai Chi, relaxation is an active form rather than a passive form. Passive relaxation is like reclining on the couch. Active relaxation requires your awareness but doesn't involve effort or straining.
- A good question to ask to bring relaxation is 'How little effort can I use to accomplish something?' This applies to both muscular and mental activities. When you hold a glass of water in your hand can you use less force without dropping it? The goal is to subtract muscular force until your actions are achieved by the body’s structure and as little physical force as possible.
- A dynamic force -- body suspended from the top, body weight sinking into the ground.
- The chin is tucked slightly to give a feeling of the top of the head pushing up. We are correcting the habit of 'head forward' or 'tech neck'. Often, when people align their head and neck to straight it feels strange or tense . . . the body may need time and practice to return back to natural. The hips are tucked under slightly to give the feeling of sitting on a tall chair. Acquiring the correct angle of the hips can take some study and some time. The idea is to have a feeling of sitting down while standing up and the lower back should feel soft and relaxed. The lower back may also become relaxed enough to expand and contract with the breath. Lower back muscular tension will be replaced by the fullness of relaxation, breath and energy/chi.
- The movement of the body is initiated by the movement of the hips. In Tai Chi the hips are considered as the pelvic bowl region and the hip ball joints, not the waist.
- In Tai Chi the hips, waist and shoulders generally move as one. When the hips move, the shoulders should move in tandem.
- The sequence of movements shifts weight perpetually from one foot to the other. Many of the movements in the form require the weight of the body to sink completely through one side so that the other is free to step, move, block, etc.
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