Donnerstag, 10. Februar 2011

Article: On Learning the Five Basic Foot Positions

By Lan Tian

From the club magazine, No. 6, p. 7 of Jianquan Taijiquan Association Shanghai from 15.08.1982

At this years’ second Annual Meeting of the Society [1982] Ma Yueliang explained in his introductory lecture the five basic foot positions: pingxingbu, xubu, dingzibu, gongbu and mabu. These five are characteristic positions of the feet in Wu style Taijiquan When learning and practicing Taijiquan one must take care of body postures and understand the changes between yin and yang, full and empty..

At the beginning when learning Taijiquan, often most attention lies on the movements of the arms and hands, and the foot positions can be a little neglected. If pingxingbu is not really parallel (pingxing), the distance between the feet varies, or both legs open like a "v", then this type of foot position leads, for example, in "Step Back and Repulse Monkey (daonianhou)” to non parallel steps and thus the body will be not straight and be without balance.

If gongbu has no bow (gong) and xubu no emptiness (xu), then in the body postures of “Brush Knee (louxiaobu)" or "Scout on Horse Back (gaotanma)" full and empty are not separated and double weighting (shuangzhong) occurs. Or when one turns 45, 90 or 180 degrees, the pivotal point is not on both toes, you also turn on the heel until you reach pingxingbu or xubu. Otherwise the center of gravity is not stable, light and agile. Or, if for example, in "Single Whip (danbian)" or "Fan through the Back (shantongbei)" the foot position is not mabu, then the legs will not be strengthened and the qi not be lowered effectively.

In summary, one can say that if you do not have accurate position of the feet, it is impossible to develop the principals of "Relax Shoulders and Let the Elbows Hang", "Straight Back", "Let the qi sink into the dantian", "The Coccyx is Upright and the Spirit (shen) Reaches to the Apex" and "The Whole Body is Light and Mobile (ling), Erect Head and Empty Neck". Thus you will not develop good Taijiquan.

Mittwoch, 2. Februar 2011

Article: Learning from Experience: Stillness (jing) and movement (dong)

From Wang Pinzheng

From the club magazine No. 5, p. 8 of Jianquan Taijiquan Association Shanghai from 05.15.1982

Taijiquan is a form of movement in which stillness and movement co-exist. In movement there is stillness. In stillness there is movement. Taijiquan prevents and fights diseases, strengthens the body and with continuous training you can defend yourself against a stronger attacker.

As for the stillness: It refers to the stillness of the life force. When practicing Taijiquan, efforts are made to get a calm heart/mind (xin) and a still spirit (shen). The movements unfold naturally (ziran) and are smooth and graceful, like moving clouds and flowing water. In this way, you can convert the never ending stress of work into a state of stillness. The reduction of stress immediately reduces some tiredness and weakness, which can be eliminated in the long term. Taijiquan helps weariness and leaves one feeling refreshed and relaxed. This is an application of stillness.

Furthermore, if you attain stillness, you are immediately relieved of confused thoughts. Many diseases are originating in "the exhaustion of the internal organs and seven emotions (neishang qiqing)" and interfere with the life force or increase depressive and aggressive states of mind. Through the practice of Taijiquan you can reach natural stillness and relaxation. Nervous symptoms decrease and you are not so easily annoyed. This is what is explained in the Inner Classic: "The life force is protected insight, thus diseases are prevented."

Although Pushhands is a method of martial arts practice for two partners, it is also based on the idea of stillness and softness. It is not: "He who attacks first is an advantage", but "Meet the offensive with stillness (yi jing dai dong)" and "Overcome hardness with softness (yi rou ke gang)”. If you practice Pushhands, you do not touch the other person heavily. You use just enough strength that you can control the other one. If you attained this great skill, you understand the other quickly and he will be beaten for sure. Whilst practicing Pushhands you have to make sure that you are very still and not be anxious. The hands are light and the qi sinks. Wrists, elbows, shoulders and other joints must be relaxed and open. Above empty and below full, thus you can change softly.

Your own stillness, lightness, relaxation and softness enable you to distinguish the full and empty of the opponent with a touch. Thus it is possible to act according to the circumstances and to strike back in an appropriate way. When the heart/mind is not calm, you are not focused and the hand movements are faulty. Once the heart/mind is still, you can follow the movement of the other, without losing contact or go against it. The other uses force - I use the advantage of the soft change. The other does not use force - I also use no force. Imagination (yi) comes first and not the use of force. In the Song of Striking Hands (Dashouge) it is stated:

If the other does not move,
I do not move.
If the other moves imperceptibly,
I move first.