This week, I would like to focus on how to practice the Form, as a means to identify flaw, so that it can be corrected, and advancement takes place. After the choreography has been memorized appropriately, as a series of Skills found in the 5 Element Stepping Method, each movement uses this expression as mantra.
The energy begins in the root, developed by the legs, directed and controlled by the waist, and expressed by the arms and hands.
This sequence of events can be thought of as:
The mind moves the energy, the energy moves the body, the body generates as force.
In a simple single Tai Chi movement, there is one cycle of Yinyang; storage of energy in, followed by expression of energy out. The movement begins, culminates, and ends in one cycle of the 5 Element Stepping.
Tai Chi is binary. Each movement, comprised of 5 Element Stepping, whose parts are Skills, each have a beginning, middle, and end. We are dividing the movement into smaller parts. Focus on what is happening during the changing transition (journey), not on the resulting final static posture (destination). It is a domino effect. If one Skill ends in weakness (lose of stability, agility, etc.) that means the next Skill will begin in weakness. The end of one Skill is the beginning of the next. Breaking a big task into smaller parts is a good means to monitor each individual part.
Tai Chi Chuan requires a lot of mental concentration. It is a mind directed exercise. Fist, we know cerebrally exactly what we want to do (Example Shift). Clear we develop a good intent (Yi). Next, we feel the energy potential even before we perform the Skill. Do we feel we have a connection from one root where we can Shift to another root? This is called Ting Jing (Listening Energy). We can feel the potential. Then we can pay attention to our exact Shifting, moment by moment. Stability and agility should not wax and wane through all 5 Skills. Once the Root, which supplies continuous upper body support and issuing energy potential has changed, the next Skill (often Pivot) can take place. Don’t rush and be sloppy just to complete.
In essence, outside the Form dramatically changes, as it is used to issue one of the 8 Energies, but inside there is stillness. Clear stability, agility, and energy potential. Body – Movement by movement, Skill by Skill, Storing and Issuing. Mind – Intent, energy potential, bodily movement. Constantly feeling and interpreting what is really happening presently. Mind over matter. Making corrections on the spot.