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The 10 principles of Tai Chi
An explanation of the most important concepts of Tai Chi
Even if 6 Dragons Kung Fu has a lot of differences with Tai Chi (Taiji), it is very useful to analyze the core concepts of this incredibly complex and fascinating style of Kung Fu.
Probably the teachings that we are going to share cannot be easily understood by the beginners but at our analysis will follow an in-depth explanation (in future articles).
We have to be empty, agile and keep the energy at the top of our heads.
We have to keep the concentration of our Qi at the top of the head
Our head must be straight to manage our balance (read Kung Fu rooting: the pyramid concept)
We must not abuse the brute force of the muscular strength
Muscular energy forces our neck to remain rigid
If our neck is in tension the circulation of blood and breathing becomes less efficient
Our strategic planning must not be instinctive but natural
We have to stretch the back and pull our chest.
We have to slightly pull our chest to allow the weave of our breathing to reach the dan tien area
We do not have to bend our trunk to avoid the breathing compression in the upper part of the chest
If the upper part of the chest is compressed it becomes heavy, the lower part lighter and feet would tend to float
The stretching of our back is the natural consequence of the flexion of the chest
Stretching our back we have to make the breath to stick to it
Doing this we can connect the power that comes from the spinal chord axis
We have to relax our waist.
The waist commands our entire body and can manage an incredible strength
This way the feet can apply the power and our pelvis becomes a firm foundation
The changes from "full" to "empty" of our body parts can be performed through the waist with spinning motions
When a practitioner has lacks of strength the problem is in the waist (and / or in the legs)
We have to be able to understand and express "full" and "empty" states of our body elements.
If we are concentrating all the percentage of our body's weight on a leg it is full
If we are concentrating all the percentage of our body's weight on a leg, the other is empty
Our movements (rotations, etc.) can be fast, effective and without effort only if we can manage the exchange from full to empty and vice-versa
If we are not able to control instinctively at the right moments and with the right harmony this changes, our flow becomes unstable, unbalanced and ineffective
This way, the quality of our movements becomes poor, we waste energies and we can be easily destabilized (even by the simplest opponent's pulling)
We have to relax our shoulders and our elbows.
Relaxing the shoulders and elbows means letting them to freely fall down
Without shoulders' relaxation, an unwanted tension will force our breathing to go upward
If breathing moves away from our dan tien, our entire structure will be weaker
If elbows are in tension and up, the shoulders cannot relax, this way we cannot express a powerful push (eg. to repel our opponent)
We have to tactically think in a creative manner instead of using the brute force.
Our entire body must be without tensions, this way our energies do not remain locked in our bones, muscles (etc.)
If the body is not relaxed our movements / reactions are slower, a big part of the power that we could use cannot be released
Our organism has channels for circulating the breath, just like the earth has its own furrows, if there are no obstructions, water can flow freely
When stiffness fills these channels, blood and breath are hindered and unable to flow and our effectiveness disappears
Tai Chi strength comes from deep inside, if we trust on relaxation, blood and breath can circulate freely and continuously without intromissions
Even if it could appear as a contradiction, with the right training, we can use agility and flexibility to express resistance and rigidity
After a good training practitioner can reach a high level of efficacy where arms become like iron bars wrapped in cotton
We have to connect what is low with what is high and what is high with what is low.
As it happens for the marches of a car, energy starts slowly in the feet (1), increase in the legs (2), is directed by the waist (3) and is manifested in the fingers at full power / speed (4)
In the passage from feet to legs and then through the waist, it is fundamental a perfect consequentiality and unity (read Use the body power: the muscle chain)
Each minimum hand's movement must be linked with the waist motion
High and low are united, if the feet move, the look of the eyes follows the feet (not looking at the feet, but adopting its direction)
If there is a lack of coordination or even a single body element is not harmonized with the rest, the big part of the power disappears
It's for this reason that (during training) Tai Chi has a so slow practical execution, to search for each minimum error and gain a perfect balance
We have to join the inside activity with the outside one.
Every action must be guided by our internal activity, if we start our movements with our Qi flow, everything is natural, effective and without useless waste
The muscle chain of the movements must follow the alternation of full and empty, opening and closing (read The 6DKF?s combat breathing)
The highest level of practice quality can be reached only when the inside and the outside become one thing through breath
We have to chain all of our movements together without interrupting the flow.
Differently from many other martial arts, in Tai Chi not exist exits, stopping and / or interruptions of the flow
This happens because when the old force ends and the new one has not arisen yet, the practitioner is pray of his opponents
In Tai Chi, everything is connected without interruption from beginning to end
When a revolution ends, another one begins, the circular flow is developed towards the infinite
Real Tai Chi is similar to the waves of the sea, its movements are continuous, endless end directed by the breathing
We have to reach the calm in any movement.
In other martial arts muscles and breath are used to exhaustion, in Tai Chi practice movements are directed by calm
The concept is that, even if the practitioner is moving fast, he remains completely calm
To obtain this it is better to perform at the slowest possible speed (during training)
Thanks to slowness, breathing turns long and deep and we can easily understand how to concentrate it in the dan tien
A few conclusive thoughts:
6 Dragons Kung Fu uses a lot of principles that come from the various styles of Tai Chi (Yang, Chen, etc.) but do not force the practitioner to only use softness (read 6DKF?s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch)
The reason why 6 Dragons Kung Fu adopt (not mix) different kinds of body interactions (soft, rigid, etc.) is that the fact of being able to change our combat style abruptly is a big advantage in front of any type of opponent
We are not saying that 6DKF is better than Tai Chi, it is only a matter of diversity of choices related to the world we live in, the experiences and especially the need to be open to the multiplicity (that can help us understand what really works for each of us, read Why is Kung Fu not used in MMA?/a>)
In the next article of this series, we will see how to put into practice the principles of Tai Chi.
The correct position of the rider (ma bu) - How to perform a perfect ma bu stance
Martial arts: all derive from Kung Fu? - An analysis of the martial arts diffusion in the world
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
In your opinion, what is the most important principle between the listed ones?