Friday, March 15, 2013

Tai Chi Opening Movement - Part 3 of 4

Add these principles to what you practiced at the previous level. Last week, I looked at the opening movement with a little more depth than a beginner is aware of. This week, I am adding some more depth by adding in more of the core principles of tai chi. To go to the beginning of this series, start here

Note: I thought I would finish this article in 3 sections. I ended up with much more than I expected, so it will take 4 sections. I just renamed the previous articles to reflect this.

Description of the Movement
Bend your knees slightly. Rise up a little bit as your start moving your hands. Continue as before. Start to shift your weight onto your right foot as your hands start moving in toward your waist. Allow your body to turn to the right to line up your hip, knee, and foot.

As your hips continue to rotate to the right, allow the motion to lift your left heel off the floor. Pick up the left foot, place it straight ahead, and start to shift your weight forward. Visualize your weight flowing from your right leg to your left leg as your shift your weight. Push down with your right foot. This allows force to come out of the ground. The hip turning allows your dan tian to spiral around. To read more about developing spiral force in your movement, click here.

Your body has turned a little bit to the right. This means that the force spirals through your leg and dan tian. Turning your body directs the force straight forward as you shift your weight forward. Visualize pushing against a heavy weight, like pushing a sofa across the room. Bring your attention to the ming meng point in your lower back. Tuck in your tailbone to support your lower back as you deliver energy.

Opening and Closing Movements
Nearly every movement has an opening and closing. Focus on the martial meaning of each form. Know how and where power is developed and delivered. This helps you to understand the correct posture and movement and your helps your mind direct your body into the right movements. Focus on the movements and their intention.

The opening is the part of the form where power is developed and stored. Think of it as a bow and arrow. Pulling on the bowstring is opening and storing energy. The closing is the part of the form where power is delivered. Releasing the bowstring is where you are delivering energy.

In general, you should inhale sometime during opening movements and exhale sometime during closing movements. Chen Jin, a Chen-style tai chi master, wrote that when you are opening, you are solid outside and soft inside. You can feel your body soften as you inhale and expand your abdomen. When you are closing, you are soft outside and solid inside. You can feel your inside harden, or become more solid, when you are delivering force as you contract your abdomen.

In our commencement movement, the first movement when we raise our hands is the opening. We are storing energy and should inhale some time during this movement. The first closing movement is when we lower our hands. We are delivering energy and should exhale during this movement. We switch back to opening when we start to pull our hands in toward our waist. Inhale again. We start to close again when we shift our weight forward and use spiral force from the ground to push our body and hands forward. Exhale during the close. The close ends when we finish moving forward. We start to open again as we move into the second form, Open and Close Hands.

Next week, I will discuss more breathing techniques, moving your qi, and wu ji.

To read the first article in this series, click here
To read the next article in this series, click here.

© 2013 Eric Borreson

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