The Method of Tai Chi Chuan – Part 1
The Method is known as the 13 Postures of Tai Chi Chuan. 13 Dynamics might be a better translation because it better describes their active and transitory nature.
The knowledge of Tai Chi Chuan is drawn from ancient traditional sources. In particular Alchemy, which later developed into (TCM) Traditional Chinese Medicine and influenced the development of Science. Most of Tai Chi Chuan’s wisdom is anecdotal and has been passed down through the generations simply because it works, it proves its validity. But for those that are so inclined, comparing it to today’s modern science is very promising and may help to open deeper door to understanding and advancement in the art.
According to ancient Chinese Creation Theory, Heaven is round and Earth is square. Sorry Flat Earth believers, it relates to the dimensional realms, not that Earth is really a cube. According to the basic tenet of Alchemy; “As a above, so below”. Alchemy views Earth as the microcosmic, compared to Heaven (the universe) as the macrocosm. “As in Heaven, so shall it be on Earth”. This is why in Tai Chi Chuan we say, “The upper body is round and the lower body is square”. The body mirrors the relationship of Heaven and Earth. It is an ancient formula of unification.
In Part 1, I will discuss the lower body that is understood by using an elaboration of Yinyang Theory called the 5 Elements, which can also benefit from being translated as the 5 Dynamics.
From our Center, defined by a line running vertically from crown to perineum, and being intersected by another line running horizontally, four fingers below the navel to a point on the back, opposite the navel (mingmen), we find the center of the body’s mass. This is the area we move from, when we are directed to “move from the Center”. Center also implied the ability to raise up toward Heaven (vertical opening extension) and lowering the body toward the Earth (vertical closing flexion).
The other four directional movements are the Cardinal points of the compass. If you read classical material this can sometimes get confusing because those living in the west have a different orientation than those in the East. In the west, viewing a map North is forward (going up north). In the East, forward / up is South (in the West, we go down South) . So to lessen any confusion, it is better just to use the traditional phrases;
These are the Five Directions of Tai Chi Chuan as defined by 5 Element Theory. A deeper study of interaction with another person will reveal an interconnected, interdependent connection, similar to the game; Rock, Paper, Scissor. This is the creative and destructive cycles of the 5 Elements that can be employed as a fighting strategy.
For example, If my opponent moves forward (fire), I can easily dissipate their energy by moving backward (water). Water puts out fire.
If my opponent pushes on my left side (wood) using their right hand (metal), if I simply rotate, yielding my left side back and allowing my right side to advance, I simply return their metal back to them. This relationship is like how an ax can chop through wood. If the wood moves away, how can the ax take a bite?
My opponent can only push me down (Earth), only if I am trying to go up (Heaven) and vise versa.