Once in motion, the entire body must be light (Qing) and agile (Ling), (it) especially should (be) threaded together.
Taijiquan Treatise by Zhang, San-Feng
Jwing-Ming, Dr. Yang, and Ymaa Publication Center. Tai Chi Secrets of the Ancient Masters. P. 1
The body’s movement is soft, relaxed, smooth, natural and comfortable.
Light and agile like movements of playing monkeys.
The body must act like a soft whip. Continuous motion like the stream of river or waves of the ocean. Threaded together like Chinese coins or pearls on a string. Mindfulness pervades the whole body. The strength is concealed within softness. Power is instantly available at the touch of a feather. The bow is drawn and ready. Like shouting a cannonball of fire. Like the tale of dragon.
The lightness is not an emptyness; it contains intrinsic energy. The agility is not superficial; it conseals a watchful awareness.
All the parts of the body must be connected like a string of pearls. This means that the movements must exhibit the incessant and continuos flow of a great river.
Concentration of the mind.
Complete relaxation of the body.
Sinking of the chi to tan tien and abiding by it so that the breathing may be deep and slow.
The shown clip is from the DVD accompanying the book:
Walking Meditation (sep 2006) Thich Nhat Hanh, Anh-Huong Nguyen
The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation (dec 1999) Thich Nhat Hanh
The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation for Achieving the Miracle of Mindfulness (jun 1999) Thich Nhat Hanh
The circle is a round plane figure whose boundary (the circumference) consists of points equidistant from a fixed point (the center). Reference: Oxford dictionary
Importance Of Continuity
In the case of the “Outer School” (which emphasizes attack) of boxing, the strength one exerts is still and the movements are not continuous, but are sometimes made off and on, which leaves opening the opponent may take advantage of. In taijiquan, one focuses the attention on the mind instead of force, and the movements from the begenning to the end are continuous and in an endless circle, just “like a river which flows on and on without end” or “like reeling the silk thread off cocoons”.
The central feature of the postures is the combination of an empty circle which has form and a formless circle which is full. These two circles represent the principle of the “empty” and “substantial.” Within the postures there is an apparent emptiness, but the posture is not really empty; it appears to be substantial, but there is in reality emptiness. This qi flows to all places without obstruction. It is rounded and lively without angles. It is without excesses or deficiencies. When manifest, the Six Harmonies are complete. When returning, it is hidden as a treasure within. Its changes are without limit. Its uses are inexhaustible. Herein lies the real teachings. It is the sum of Tai Ji Quan.
Chen Xin’s Boxing Treatise says it best, “When your practice is most refined, even the smallest place is circular” Every sphere has its center. Within the sphere that issues from this central pivot, there are no breaks, deficiencies, hollows or projections. So where can there be double weighting? There is a saying, “Adhering is moving away. Moving away is adhering.” The term “Taiji” actually means the center of a circle, where the outer portion is called yang and the inner portion yin [that is, outside the circle and inside the circle]. Yang is applied by adhering and attacking. Yin is applied by moving away and defending. Furthermore, adhering is preparation for moving away. and moving away is preparation for adhering. Thus, we can continue, “Yin does not depart from yang; yang does not depart from yin.” It can also be said, “Yin and yang balance each other; this is known as “comprehending energy” (dong jing). What is called “yin and yang, adhering, moving away, hard and soft, following” and so on are all words referring to attacking and defensive movements. Within the attack, there is defense, and within defense, there is an attack. For this reason, we speak of “mutual balance”. Recognizing this principle is equivalent to “comprehending energy”.
He could only give him advice on a few movements, like Single Whip (Dan Bian) and “Luo Lu” or circles made with the hands and waist in three different planes, to train how to change the hand position correctly in order to dissipate incoming force and strike simultaneously, but without using strength.
“Avoid turning circles without any purposes. Make sure that there is “yi” (mind/intent) in every one of your moves. You need to stand up and face your opponents and should not run away from them.”
“Do not treat push-hands lightly, thinking it involves only turning circles, some pushes and power discharge. We should treat it like fighting an enemy who is trying to kill us. Once we get in contact with his arms we should be able to control him, and we should not be controlled by him.”
Retreat in order to advance (Yi Tui Wei Jin).
In pushhands the feature of prime importance is to adapt and move with the changing conditions of your counterpart. The circular movements in Taichi are the image of the symbol of taichi, which is evolving, comprising the changes of moving and adhering within a circle.
The circular movements (Dong Zuo Zou Hu Xian).
The patterns of interchange between yin and yang are all based on circular movements and connected by ”sticking ” to the partner’s intension. Because there is no interruption in a circular movement, it is easier to reach the partner than in a forward or backward straight line. Another benefit is that it is easier to change your acting force or direction at any point of the circular line.
Yi is responsible for relaxing the external body, the muscle; for storing the Qi one develops in practice, for making smaller circles and spirals, for condensing movement to small frame, and eventually to no visible movement in order to develop Nei Jing.
Therefore you only have to make the Light circulate: that is the deepest and most wonderful secret. The Light is easy to move, but difficult to fix. If it is allowed to go long enough in a circle, then it crystallizes itself: that is the natural spirit -body. This crystallized spirit is formed beyond the nine Heavens. It is the condition of which it is said in the Book of the Seal of the Heart: Silently in the morning thou fliest upward.
The ‘classics’ state that; the body has to be upright as if the head is suspended from above; the hips have to be relaxed and seated into their sockets; the chest should be hollowed; shoulders relaxed and elbows dropped. These requirements combined create the taiji ‘structure’.
However if all the attention in placed on the structure without having an awareness of the processes and details in the movements, the structure will be empty and without substance.
(from Practicing the Classics by by Wee Kee-Jin) http://www.taijiquan.co.nz/
Chan Lien Tieh Sui Pu Tiu pu Ting
This refers to the sticking aspect or adherence in Tai Chi Chuan. Chan and lien are vertical adhering movements, lifting from above and supporting from below, respectively. Tieh is adherence in the horizontal motion, sui is adherence from the rear. Pu tiu pu ting means neither to lose the adherence nor to resist. (T’Ai Chi Ch’Uan Ta Wen, Questions and Answers on T’Ai Chi Boxing Chen Wei-Ming, Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo & Robert W. Smith p. 57)
Adhere, join, stick to and follow the opponent, without letting go or resisting
It is said, “Lure the opponent’s advance into emptiness; harmonize with him, then issue power. Adhere, join, stick to and follow the opponent, without letting go or resisting,” [that is, follow the opponent on both the vertical and horizontal planes]
Follow the opponent’s incoming posture and lead him into emptiness. As I lead him in, I issue my own attack. The word “lead” actually has two meanings. The first is to accord with the opponent’s posture and draw him further in order to take advantage [of his momentum]. The second is to feign weakness, causing him to rush in brashly. We read in Chen Xin’s Boxing Treatise, “Entice the opponent with an ‘empty basket’; then just make one turn.” Enticing with an empty basket is the same as “Lure the opponent’s advance into emptiness.” ” Turning” means striking the opponent.
The older generation says, “People who practice push-hands live according to the principle of ‘neither let go nor resist’.” Not letting go means not quitting the opponent’s hand. Not resisting means not opposing him. This concept includes adhering and joining on a vertical plane, as well as horizontal sticking and following. Adhering motions belong to the category of “not letting go”. Following and joining motions belong to the category of “not resisting”. That is to say, when the opponent advances, I follow and join his motion. And if he retreats I adhere to him.
(from a Study of Taiji Push-Hands by Xiang Kairen)
Yin-yang are opposing
Yin-yang are mutually rooted
Yin-yang mutually transform
Yin-yang mutually wax and wane
Yin and yang are neither substances nor forces
Taiji is born of Wu Chi. It is the origin of dynamic and static states and the mother of yin and yang. If they move, they separate. If the remain static, they combine. (Wangzongyue)
References: Yin Yang wikipedia.org
The Dao of Taijiquan Way to Rejuvenation by Tsung Hwa Jou. Chapter Two
Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan (nov 1985) Cheng Man-Ch’ing, Martin Inn p. 21-23 Taiji Diagram and Yang Style by Mei Ying Sheng neigong.net
‘In the fully energized state, “every hair is fully alert.” The state of relaxed arousal is what is meant by the chinese term “sung.” This is not the drowsy torpor before sleep. It is the release of tension that saps our strength – so that we become alert, clearheaded and full of vigor. Your head is uplifted and your eyes open, while letting go of physical tension in your muscles and organs.’
(The Way of Power by Master Lam Kam Chuen p. 134)
Cheng Man Ch’ing on Sung
I have been practicing Tai-Chi Chuan for over fifty years. Only two years ago that I started to understand the word “relax”. I remember my Tai-Chi Chuan teacher Yang Cheng-Fu who did not like to talk much and he used to sit all day without saying a word if no one asked him questions. However, in our T’ai-chi class he would tell us to “relax” repeatedly. Sometimes it seemed like he would say the word hundreds of times during the practice so that the word could fill up my ears. Strangely enough he also said that if he did not tell me of this word that I would not be able to learn T’ai-chi in three life-times (meaning never). I doubted his words then. Now that I think back, I truly believe that if he did not keep reminding me of the word “relax”, I doubt if I could have learned T’ai-chi Chuan in six life-times.
What is the meaning of “relax” in T’ai-chi? Here is an example to help you understand the word. When we go visit a Buddhist temple we usually see a statue of Me-Lo Buddha. The one who has a big rounded stomach with a big smile on his face. He carries a large bag on his shoulder. On top of this statue we see a motto: “Sit with a bag. Walk with a bag. It would be such a relief to drop the bag.” What does all this mean? To me, a person himself or herself is a bag. Everything he or she owns is baggage, including one’s children, family, position and wealth. It is difficult to drop any of one’s baggage, especially the “self” bag.
T’ai-chi Chuan is difficult to learn. To relax in practicing T’ai-chi Chuan is the most difficult phase to go through. To relax a person’s mind is the most significant obstacle to overcome in practicing T’ai-Chi. It takes a great effort to train and exercise one’s mind to relax (or drop one’s “self” bag).
The way to nurture the force of ‘Nei Jing’
Within martial arts, the key to unlock and nurture stronger inner energy of ‘Nei Jing’ is through practising ‘song’ (Traditional Chinese: 鬆 ). The term ‘song’ can function as a verb which means to keep one’s mind and body loose resilient and expanding like the consistency of cotton or clouds or relaxed yet concentrated like the sharp alertness of cats immediately before attack. The term can also be used as an adjective which has the same meaning as described above. The greater the extent one can achieve ‘song’ and minize the use of ‘Li’, the greater the release of ‘Nei Jing’ force.
Practising ‘song’ is part of kung fu training process. It occurs when one keeps reminding oneself to ‘song’ thoroughly and refrain from the ‘Li’ force because the energy of ‘Nei Jing’ will be locked and blocked whenever the force ‘Li’ is applied. So, ‘Nei Jing’ and ‘Li’ are said to be mutually exclusive.
Therefore, the Tai Ji Quan master Yang Chengfu used the concept of‘song’ as a benchmark in his daily teaching. It was his daily routine to keep reminding his disciples to ‘song’ thoroughly more than 10 times when he inspected them.