Tai Chi’s aim is to merge and create a balance between the yin and the yang. This means movement of the body (yang) with stillness of the mind (yin). As a martial art, Tai Chi’s philosophy is to face an attack or force (yang) with softness and quietness (yin). Whether the attack is physical, mental or emotional, Tai Chi teaches you to face the attack with calmness.
Tai Chi’s movement is always soft, relaxed and yielding even in the face of an attack. This applies to all parts of the body including the face, veins and tendons. In Tai Chi, there is what you call the ‘beautiful lady’s hands’ where none of the veins stand out.
In Tai Chi, there is the essential life force called ‘Chi’ and this exercise ensures that chi freely flows at optimum level throughout the body.
Tai Chi focuses on the four points of the body:
The Yongquan Point.
This is the center of the ball part of the feet where energy is seeped into the body from the Earth.
The Laogong Point.
This is the center of the palm, kept open and relaxed all throughout the Tai Chi exercise.
The Beihui Point.
This is the center of the crown of the head. Tai Chi practitioners must keep their head upright at all times as good Chi travels from the center of the ball of the feet, through the spine and upward to the Beihui point.
The Tantien Point.
This is the reservoir point of the Chi, two inches inward below the belly button. Tai Chi practitioners remain sensitive to the Tantien point. It is where Chi is stored during exercise and after, throughout the day.
All throughout Tai Chi, practitioners must keep the weight and energy focused on the center body. This is how one stays rooted and grounded to the Earth even when faced with adversity or an opponent.
Tai Chi practitioners are able to master their emotions and stay calm under stress largely by keeping low in the body. To allow the energy to move quick and fast towards the upper body during stressful times can cause the heart beat to rise , the should and muscles tense up and the mind starts thinking dark thoughts. Tai Chi practitioners think of their Yongquan Point as a bubbly spring thus, keeping their feet grounded to the Earth at all times.
Tai Chi beginning posture.
Keep your feet apart by the width of your shoulder while your knees remain soft. Focus on the Yongquan point or the center of the ball of your feet. Hollow your chest and tuck your chin in. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breath from the abdomen.
Find your most natural breathing and allow your breath to settle in the center of the lower abdomen where your breath becomes slower and deeper.. Do not allow your breath to settle in the chest.
During Tai Chi, the mind is peaceful and focused so the body becomes light and graceful. The principle of Tai Chi espouses relaxed awareness and sensitivity, not fierce concentration.
Basic Hand Form.
Keep your hand soft, relaxed and slightly rounded. Relax the wrist and put the thumb and the first two fingers together. Keep this hand form during the Single Whip movement.
Catch the Ball Hand Form
Softly cup the hands as if you are holding a ball.
Tai Chi Stepping.
Step your left foot forward and put your left heel gently on the ground. Keep a low centre of gravity and keep the upper body light. The knees must be slightly bent. Bring the sole of the left foot to the ground but keep your weight off it and do not lean forward while doing this step.
Next, transfer your weight onto the left foot and simultaneously raise the heel of your right foot. Raise your right foot and begin to step forward but do not raise the right knee. Stay connected to the ground. Bring the sole of your right foot to the ground and then slowly start to transfer your weight forward.