Yang Chen Fu was the grandson of Yang Lu Chan, founder of the Yang style of tai chi. He created a list of 10 points, or concepts, that are essential for mastering tai chi. These concepts can seem a little obscure and are difficult to understand at first. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand right away. Most people spend a lifetime learning the details. Think about each point separately and together with each other point. Practice regularly. Over time, the meaning of each point becomes clearer. With regular practice, you will be able to understand how they relate to the practice of tai chi. The following is the last 5 of the 10 points with several translations and a brief explanation of each.
6. Yong Yi Bu Yong Li – Using Yi or intention and not physical strength; Use your will (mind) and not your force; Use the mind instead of force
Allow your body to relax so that no force remains in your body. When you use physical strength, your qi gets blocked resulting in sluggish movement. Using your mind (Yi) allows your movements to be light and agile and you can act as your mind directs. This helps develop your inner qi. Learn to concentrate on your movements and use your mind to direct the movements.
7. Shang Xia Xiang Sui – Co-ordination of both the upper and lower body; Co-ordinate the upper and lower body movements; Coordinate the upper and lower parts of the body
The whole body should act as a unified whole. Motion is rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist, and manifested by the hands through the shoulders and arms. From legs to waist, there needs to be unison of movement. Thus when your hands move, your waist and feet as well as the focus of the eyes must move accordingly. A common problem is when your hands are moving and your legs have reached their final position and are stationary.
The movements of hands, waist and legs should also be followed by the intention in the eyes. This is regarded as the complete co-ordination of above and below. Whenever there is any lack of co ordination the movement instantly will appear disjointed and will lack strength.
8. Nei Wai Xiang Ge – Internal and external in togetherness; Unify (co ordinate) internal and external movements; Harmonize the internal and external
Tai chi trains the spirit. The spirit commands and the body obeys. All movement includes substantial (hard, filled, opening) and insubstantial (soft, empty, closing). Internal includes inner force, mind, and spirit. External includes the movements of the form and posture and body. When you focus on the form, your mind and spirit unite with the external movements. It is difficult, but regular practice of the form improves your ability to harmonize the internal and external.
9. Xiang Lian Bu Duan – Continuity without breakage; There must be absolute continuity of movement; Move with continuity
Movements that use physical strength have breaks in the movement where the strength is depleted, creating a moment of vulnerability. Tai chi uses intention instead of physical strength so the movement becomes continuous without breaks. When practicing tai chi, control your movements so they are slow and continuous so your inner force can develop.
10. Dong Zhong Qiu Jing – Seeking stillness within movement; Seek stillness (serenity in movement); Move with tranquility
Tai chi emphasizes stillness instead of movement. Even when moving, the form appears to be tranquil. Therefore, slow movements when practicing and deep breaths, allow the qi to sink to the dan tien.
The tai chi classics say that tai chi should appear to be “flowing like a mighty river.” People learning tai chi need to learn proper posture and the sequence of the forms. After the form is learned, learners need to coordinate the movements into a smooth and continuous movement.
© 2011 Eric Borreson