Tai Chi Chuan was created by Ming Dynasty General Chen Wangting (1580 – 1660) based on the Changquan; Long Fist Form of another general, Qi Jiguang (1528 -1588). Chen supplemented the martial techniques with Dao Yin; an earlier form of today’s modern Qigong; Energy Work based on Chinese medicine’s theories of Qi; energy flow throughout the body via a system of meridians in the body. These meridians (like rivers) are the same energetic pathways used by acupuncturists to tonify or sedate Qi flow through the organ systems of the body, for healing purposes using needles. Basically, Chen combined the external Long Fist style with the internal methodology of working with intrinsic energy (Qigong). Wu Shu (martial tactics) and Nei Gong (Internal work). So the actual history of Tai Chi Chuan is mirrored in the legendary tale. Mythologically, Taoist Immortal Zhang Sanfeng is given credit for the creation of Tai Chi Chuan combining Shaolin Kung Fu with the ancient craft of Taoist Alchemy for transformation, after being inspired by a battle between a snake and bird.
This semester we will focus on a small set of five symmetrical (left and right syncopated together) arm circles:
1 Ward Off – Push down / 2 Roll Back – Push / 3 Pull, Roll – Back, Ward – Off, Push /
4 Four Energy Downward Circle / 5 Four Energy Upward Circle
Unlike the Hand Form that contains fighting techniques, where the eight energies utilize arm circles around the Centerline that are incomplete, usually switching from one circle to another, these Qigong exercises are continuous motion that form a complete circuit of Qi flow. Knowing the complete maneuver as a circle, the four energies (Example – Downward circle: roll back, push down, pull, ward –off) it contains can be issued straight out of the body martially as “Circle seeks the Square”.
As repetitive exercises, they offer an opportunity to identify various physical, energetic, and cerebral flaws, locate the source of the problem, and utilize a corrective measure to fully eradicate the problem over time. Practice is not mindless and redundant. “Don’t do the same thing over and over expecting a better result”. Instead as somatic exercise, each round is another opportunity to experience things differently. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Ting Jing; Listening Energy is feeling the various rising and falling physical sensations in the body, while they are actually happening throughout the whole exercise. Try something different next time around. What was the result? We learn from our mistakes, if we are bold enough to try. Our teachers can only explain and demonstrate. We have to realize it inside ourselves through our own work. Ultimately, we teach ourselves.