From the outside, the Tai Chi Chuan can seem like a beautiful dance. Nothing could be further from the truth. The gentle movements represent a form of meditation and inner work of the vital energy. Techniques that have been polished for hundreds of years. Going beyond the field of martial arts, to delve into the development of an iron health.
The tai chi or tai chi Chuan means “last fist”, and began to be known in China as a martial art, successively taking territory until it was practiced by thousands of people around the world. Since then,this practice is representative of Chinese culture. It canal so be called tàijíquán.
Tai chi is known all over the world but mainly in the People’s Republic of China. Each year more and more people join in the realization of this practice with the purpose of regulating and controlling the internal energy, in order to live really happy and peaceful lives.
Originally tai chi is an internal martial art, for bodily or body-to-body wrestling whether performed in an armed or unarmed manner. However, nowadays it is better known as a more physical/spiritual type of activity, which allows its practitioners to improve their quality of life from the inside out. Not only is it good for health itself, but it is also considered as a technique of meditation and reunion with the inner self.
In this post you will find
- 1 Tai Chi and Chi
- 2 History of Tai Chi
- 3 Tai Chi Practice
- 4 Tai Chi Chuan: Yang Style
- 5 How to learn Tai Chi
- 6 What is the attitude to learn this discipline?
- 7 The Master
- 8 The student
- 9 The study of tai chi is done through gradual stages
Tai Chi and Chi
Chi or vital energy is something that every living being has. For its clear perception it is necessary to do previous work that usually lasts weeks. It takes decades to master it. Their possibilities are impressive, and above all, the improvement of nature and communication with nature. Tai Chi is probably the best way to equip oneself with a good state of health for the practice of Chi, and to sensitize and mediate in movement with this vital energy to which Western society has turned its back.
Tai chi is based on the balance and improvement of Chi, to bring the body towards a state of health. It reduces the use of force to execute exercise, and also reduces the risk of injury, while maximizing the benefits of conscious movement and healthy living.
Not all living beings assimilate Chi in the same way, each living organism has its own particular way of assimilating Chi. But humans, animals and plants absorb it equally through the air they breathe and the food they eat.
Once inside the organism, Chi moves through the whole body and puts into practice different functions. The main one of all of them is based on achieving the continuous good functioning of the organism.
When your mind is truly clear and calm, through tai chi, the spiritual side of things begins to open up. You’restarting to see things more deeply. Many martial arts masters came to be considered wise men and were consulted for their understanding of the meaning of human life, this world and the universe. They learned to live in this world without confusion or doubt and to find peace and happiness thanks to this practice.
More than 1600 years ago, it began to become popular among the streets of China. This practice was understood as a series of movements that shape representations of nature. For any other society it might look strange at first glance, but the reality is that for this culture represents the evolution of consciousness, the ultimate connection with our inner self and the world.
The old scriptures tell that Tai chi techniques have been used since the Liang dynasty (A.D.502- 557), and later became taught by Han, Gong-yue, Cheng, Ling xi and Cheng. Later the Tang dynasty maintained the teachings (A.D. 618-907). Many names are mentioned in the history of tai chi, however, there is a monk who takes most of the credit, and is t maximum representation of internal search…
History of Tai Chi
China was in the middle of the Song dynasty. Its emperor,Hui Zong was apparently doing things well in terms of sophistication and social organization. Society could enjoy various social clubs in cities, temples, schools, and entertainment centers, which gave the people (even the lowest class) the opportunity to expand their knowledge. It was a time of much culture and expansion of horizons.
The realm of religion had a very transcendental effect on people’s lives, their beliefs were involved in each of their daily activities. There were many deities related to Taoism and Buddhism. Society especially respected ancestral spirits, and spirituality in China has always been part of their folklore.
However, something was needed. For some people, certain deities were not enough to achieve peace and balance; for our inner strength can only really be dominated by ourselves.
And it is in this part of history that the honest Zhang San Feng appears. A mystic monk with a mysterious life, teacher and philosopher almost 2 meters high, shaped like a turtle, with a crane-looking back, and giant ears. History reminds him walking the mountains of China in a single tunic.
Zhang San Feng was an expert in martial arts and acupuncture, but he was also a hermit and his solitude was the best company, as it allowed him to increase his knowledge in the different areas he handled. His favorite space was Wudang Mountain, where he would retire for long periods of time to practice Kung Fu.
In spite of all his knowledge, his real purpose was to create a martial system that was based on the knowledge of the body and energy.
Together with two friends of his, who were specialists in acupuncture, he devoted himself to studying the effects and reactions of the body through the use of acupuncture in an unconventional way.They were even able to detect that if the procedure was performed incorrectly, it could generate a contradictory effect.
Zhang was always looking for scientific approach in his practices, and this allowed him to become wiser and wiser. However, it is at this point in history that his life becomes a little diffuse, since his most important attribution is still of dispersed origin…
The best-known story is as follows :
It is said that one night, while Zhan San Feng was sleeping, he had a very strange dream. San Feng saw a snake and a crane fighting to the death over the Wu-DANG mountains.
Legend has it that the monk observed so much strength, elegance and majesty in the movements of the rivals that he fell in love with them. Both defended themselves as they could, using their elements in their favor. The crane fluttered swiftly and used its beak to propel itself. While the snake acted very tense and moved in an ‘s’ shape while defending itself from the bites.
The dream may have been more of a revelation, for when the monk saw the scene, he immediately had the idea that his own fighting style, for which he had worked night after night, had to combine the characteristics of several animals. It occurred to him to carry out a style of fight that combined the characteristics of several animals. Based on these movements, as strong as elegant, the monk began to develop similar forms with his body.
However, the monk still felt that there was something missing. It was at that moment, at the top of the mountain as he looked to the bottom, as he saw the manifestation of spiraling leaves lifted by the wind, that he understood what his greatest discovery meant:
Their struggle should not be focused on the normal forces of man, nor on that of animals; but on something higher, the force of the tao. Only in this way could he create a martial art that would disappear, divert or even absorb any external force, without dominating or subduing it. After his discovery, the monk created a hermitage on the mountains and it was there where he let flow all his ideas regarding the Tai Chi Chuan.
More than a martial art, Zhang came across what would be one of the most important internal connection practices in the world. Allowing millions of people to restore their lives and balance.
It arises from the search for a question about the true meaning of life. The greatest discoveries in history are born of concerns. From doubts a man creates different theories and concepts that allow him to collect clues to reach a truth. The origin of Tai Chi is found from this principle of calming and restlessness. Even most people who start their Tai Chi practice do so out of a concern to find control of themselves or because they feel they have lost their way.
Some records indicate that the techniques of Zhang San Feng already existed and he was able to learn them from Daoist Feng, Yi-yuan.
The reality is that probably we will never know. Meanwhile, the merit will be paid to San Feng. They say that when the river sounds, it is because it brings stones. And so far the magical story of this revelation is the best known.
Tai Chi Practice
During the practice of tai chi, all attention should be concentrated on developing the highest level of art. This dedication and concentration will carry over to the rest of your life, and the struggle for perfection becomes the true inner meaning of tai chi.
“No form, no shadow.”
When you approach the highest levels of tai chi meditation you discover that your physical body does not seem to exist: you feel that you are a ball of energy, part of the natural world and inseparable from it.
“The whole body transparent and empty.”
When you feel like you’re just a ball of energy, there’s nothing in your mind, no desire, no intention. Since your mind and ego are not there to interfere, you can see clearly and respond correctly.
“Forget your environment and be natural.”
Once you are transparent, you will easily forget your surroundings and your energy flow will be smooth and natural.
“Clear fountain, peaceful water.”
In tai chi, energy can be strong and continuous like a turbulent river or stormy ocean.
The first step in learning tai chi chuan is to understand the theory and fundamental principles through discussion with your teacher, reading available books, studying with classmates, and then reflecting on your own.
You should ask yourself: How does tai chi chuan benefit the body and improve health? How can taijiquan be used for martial purposes? Once you have answers to these questions, you should have an image of the art and an idea of where it is going. The next question that should arise should be:
How could I train relaxation, calm and concentration? This takes you to the second step of training. Generally, if you have the right methods and concepts, you can train your mind to be calm and physically relax in no time.
Maintaining this meditative attitude is very important to begin training.
The next step is to train the breath. Breathing should be deep, natural and long. If you only practice tai chi for health, you can use Buddhist or normal abdominal breathing. After you have trained your breathing correctly, you should begin to feel the chi in your abdomen. This will lead to the fourth step: generating and experiencing chi.
Generally, chi can be generated in two ways: externally and internally. Generating chi externally is called wai dan, and when it is generated internally it is called nei dan. Through chi generation training, you will gradually realize what chi is and why the gentle circulation of chi benefits the body.
It will also increase your sensitivity to this movement. The more you train, the more sensitive you become. After a while, you must move on to the next step: circular chi. This is best practiced through still meditation, which will improve your chi generation and circulation. This circulation is guided by the calm mind and is possible thanks to a relaxed body. You must train your mind to guide chi wherever you wish, in coordination with the right breathing technique.
First you must develop a small circulation, which moves chi up the spine and down the center of the front of the body.
Tai Chi Chuan: Yang Style
The Yang style is the most popular of all and is also born from a rather casual story…
It all begins with Yang, Lu Chan (1799-1872 A.D.) who was born in Hebei Province in Guan Ping County. This young boy went to the province of Henan to learn the art of Tai Chi Chuan. At first, he was standing so firm and upright that people began to call him“MrTablet”. The treatment he received was really unfair, however, he never gave up.
One night, the boy was awakened with noises that sounded like “Hen” and “Ha” in the distance. He got up and traced the sound back to an old building, then saw his master Chen, Chang-xing teaching the techniques of grip, control and jin emission in coordination with the sounds “Hen” and “Ha”.
He was so amazed at the techniques that from that moment on, he continued to watch this secret practice session every night. When he finished, he returned to his room to reflect and study . Thanks to this, his martial ability advanced rapidly. One day, Chen ordered him to train with the other disciples, but to his surprise, none of the other students could defeat him. Chen realized that Yang had great potential, and after that showed him his secrets. When he finished, he returned to his hometown and taught chi chuan for a while. His movements were so skillful and effective against the opponents that people began calling his style of battle the “Yang Style.” Although he had many fights, he never hurt anyone. His art was so high that no one could defeat him and thus this recognized style of combat was born.
It is another of the most practiced worldwide, and is originated by Wu Quan You, body guard of the imperial court of Beijing in the Quing dynasty, and one of the most advanced students of Yáng Lù Chán.
It was created by Sun Lu Tang, a renowned master of two other internal martial arts: Xingyiquan and Baguazhang. Lu Tang created the Sun style through the congruence between these two martial arts and Tai Chi.
It is important but not so well known, is usually practiced only in China and originated with Wu Yuxiang(1812-1880). Yuxiang took his knowledge and modified the forms to a small structure sequence and then founded his own style.
How to learn Tai Chi
Tai Chi is not just any sport that can be practiced, it is a way of life, of acquiring a new perception of the world. While it is true that practicing tai chi requires a mature decision, it is also very important to have the necessary attitude to achieve it.
It’s not easy at all, most people sooner or later leave the activity because they realize that it’s not really what they wanted or because they were frustrated that they didn’t get what they were hoping for. The end result of a committed practice of tai chi will always be pleasant, if you have not reached that point is because you need more study, there is no predetermined time, and that is what many of its practitioners fail to understand and therefore give up.
Tai chi starts from the representation of forms with the body, accompanied by sequences of specific movements that follow each other and together generate a fluid sequence. The basic forms are individual practices in which the student makes the movements with himself. The shapes represent the fight against an imaginary rival. These forms are not individual figures, but are connected with thought. It is a work that is done in a mind-body team.
Forms are made up of several frames, steps, or figures whose sequence is predefined. These techniques have different names that express the martial application of the movement e.g. “right heel kick“, that describe the character of the movement e.g. “simple whip” or that have a poetic reading e.g. “The white crane spreads its wings“.
There are some forms that are named according to the number of postures or movements, such as the Form of 24 movements.
What is the attitude to learn this discipline?
Tai chi is a long journey without a doubt, a journey that will be profitable only if you make it from your heart. The attitude will depend on the individual’s decision. That is to say, anyone could take a tai chi class to have the experience and know what it is about. But, a person who wants to dedicate himself to it and see positive results in his life will have to make a very firm decision to face the steps. It will take perseverance and a lot of patience to get to the end.
Each path is completely different from the other’s, even if you have these two qualities. If a person has all these virtues, his path will easily have other difficulties, so it is not advisable to be guided by other people’s experiences. A person who practices and then reflects on every new thing he or she has learned and continues to investigate, will naturally be better than the person who never explores what he or she has learned.
As we mentioned, this is a long trip and with many obstacles that must be overcome, before taking each step is necessary to understand the previous one. It takes many years of learning, research, reflection and practice to gradually understand the key and “enter the temple”.
However, the more you believe you can achieve it and dedicate your mind to it, the less you will need to understand; your mind will dictate the next steps. The teachers compare it to a bottomless pit or a river that flows non-stop.
There is still an old list of 5 mental cues that a tai chi student needs if he really hopes to move the process forward:
- 1. Study in depth .
- 2. Investigate and ask
- 3. Meditate carefully
- 4. Discriminate clearly
- 5. To work perseveringly .
Part of the study of tai chi includes understanding a little more of each of these recommendations, which no matter how simple they seem, are really very important and not so easy to achieve.
These maxims professed by tai chi are applicable to different aspects of life. If practiced, it is possible to achieve different goals, such as acquiring high wisdom levels.
In addition to the previous learning attitude, an excellent teacher is also a transcendental element in learning the art of tai chi.
A disciple should be more concerned with spending three years in search of a highly qualified teacher than with spending three years learning from one who is not.
The word master is simply gigantic, meaning guide and superior knowledge. In the practice of tai chi the master is an indispensable element, because it will depend on him that the process is easier or more complicated.“the master is who can guide you to the door by the shortest possible path and help you avoid wasting your time and energy.”
One of the most special masters in history was Chen, as his most important disciple managed to develop his own unique style: yang, which was followed by society. A true master helps his followers learn the basic notions and then to find their own way.
“To enter through the door and be guided by the way, one needs oral instruction; and practice without ceasing, the way is through self-practice”
The good teachers will always be in charge of creating the best disciples, the teachers point the way without saying exactly what to do. However, a good teacher must also correct the disciple if the situation warrants it. The energy and time of the teacher are very important, so he will only correct if he believes it is worth investing time and energy to do so.
The learning of tai chi can last approximately 20 years, the first 3 years to acquire the learning of forms and then you will have to work and train very hard to manage your breath and so on.
Most tai chi students change their attitude as the process continues, some become stronger and more dedicated, while others students become fragile and disinterested, no matter how motivated they started this journey.
The study of tai chi is done through gradual stages
Body regulation (Tiao Shen)
In addition to learning to make the movements with precision, physical relaxation is important. To obtain a deep level of relaxation, the mind must first be relaxed, the balance of the body must be felt and its physical and mental centers must be maintained. To achieve this goal, you must practice until your legs and torso have been strengthened and reaffirmed. Once you have reached the relaxation goal, the most basic condition for your health will be reached. Blood and qi circulation can flow smoothly in a relaxed body. This will cause cell replacement in the body to occur correctly. Maintaining cell replacement in the body is the key to health and longevity.
Regulation of breathing (Tiao Xi)
When the body finally manages to relax, attention should be paid to your breathing,and you should appreciate how your body absorbs oxygen and expels carbon dioxide gently and deeply. Every cell in the body requires oxygen. If you can take in oxygen gently and abundantly, new cells will be created in your body. In addition, deep breathing removes dead cells from the body by exhaling.
Regulation of the mind (Tiao Xin)
The mind is the main commander in the battle of body and disease. Therefore, mental disorder generates the loss of the body’s battle. Chinese culture is considered to have two distinct aspects of the mind. The first is the yi, or wisdom mind which is responsible for intellect and higher mental functions. The second aspect of the mind is the xin, or emotional mind that encompasses all emotional states and passions. It is the creator of desire and aggression, from there all the emotions that are manifested begin. If not properly regulated by the mind of wisdom, it will lead to self-destruction. Regulating the mind means learning to calm the emotional mind and strengthen the wise mind. The aim of regulating the mind is to lead it to a profoundly deep, peaceful and harmonious state.
Regulation of Qi (Tiao Qi)
A calm mind, a relaxed body and correct breathing can bring chi to any part of the body. For a tai chi artist, the first step is to carry the qi to the extremities to energize the muscles for defensive purposes. The result of this is the production of a strong internal power called jin. For a person who is training only for health, the mind can be used to circulate the qi in the body through the practice of Small Circulation (Xiao Zhou Tian) and Large Circulation (Da Zhou Tian) meditation.
If you are thinking about including this practice in your lifestyle and you have fallen in love with it, you must be aware that sometimes your brain will say enough is enough, but your heart will have to remember why you started the journey.
A student who practices, reflects, humbly asks questions, and investigates on his own will naturally be a good successor to the practice. The personal interest that exists for the topic will be the main feature that will allow growth to be generated with the passing of the years. Typically, a teacher needs three years to look through a student’s personality and know if they are likely to persevere in their studies and maintain a good moral character.
After years of research,Zhan was able to find the answers he needed, a martial art that would balance the internal energies. Without all his previous work, it wouldn’t have been possible. Today the world is grateful for this discipline linked to the line of thought of Taoism.
The reality of the human being guided by his feelings and controlled by his energies can be really difficult. Only when we learn to control our emotions, our desires and passions, can we begin to live a full life. Yes, it sounds very simple in those 5 lines, but learning to master our own energies could take all of our lives… However, the results are mind-boggling.
This story is an invitation, the word you need to take control of your life and your energies. Are you ready?
Originally Post “Tai Chi Chuan: la verdadera historia milenaria″
Translated by Oscar Moreno