"The softest in the world overcomes the hardest. The insubstantial can penetrate where there is no opening." Lao Tzu
"The goal of Tai Chi Chuan is not to demonstrate strength, power or violence. The goal is to attain serenity, tranquility and the discovery of oneself. It is truly an exercise of the spirit."
- Master Tung Kai Ying
I'm not here to teach you anything. I'm here to share with you how I learn about tai chi So hopefully by the end of the week you will begin to learn about tai chi through you. (Chungliang Al Huang)
Tai chi… might well be called “medication in motion.” There is growing evidence that this mind-body practice… has value in treating or preventing many health problems. - Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publication, May, 2009
Heaviness is the root of lightness. (Lao Tzu)
The manifestation of qi moves with agility. When the shen is concentrated, opening and closing occur appropriately, and the differentiation of substantial and insubstantial is clear. If the left is insubstantial, the right is substantial, and vice-versa. Insubstantial does not mean completely without strength. (Li I-Yu) The old that is strong does not wither. (Tolkien)
What is the meaning of split energy? It revolves like a spinning disc. If something is thrown onto it, it will immediately be cast more than ten feet away. Have you not seen a whirlpool form in a swift flowing stream? The waves roll in spiralling currents. If a falling leaf drops into it, it will suddenly sink from sight. (Tan Meng-hsien)
Sung: To relax and sink. A distinction should be made between the relaxation of the whole body and a limp or flaccid condition of the whole body. When the head is picked up, the joints are thrown open and the relaxation of the body is uniform. (Lo/Inn/Amacker/Fo) In tai chi the hands do not move. This doesn't mean that they stay fixed in front of you but rather that they do not move independently of the source of their movement. The waist. (Cheng Man Ching)
What is the meaning of elbow energy? Its method relates to the five elements. Yin and yang are divided above and below. Emptiness and substantiality must be clearly distinguished. Joined in unbroken continuity, the opponent cannot resist the posture. Its explosive pounding is especially fearsome. When one has mastered the six kinds of energy, the applications become unlimited. (Tan Meng-hsien)
The manifestation of qi must be agile. Substantial does not mean completely limited. The spirit must be completely concentrated. It is important to be completely in the mind and the waist, and not outside. Not being outside or separated, force is borrowed from the opponent, and the qi is released from the spine. (Li I-Yu)
In advancing and returning there must be folding. (Wu Yu-hsiang)
What is the meaning of bump energy? Its method is divided into the shoulder and back technique. In slant flying posture use shoulder, but within the shoulder technique there is also some use of the back. Once you have the opportunity and can take advantage of the posture, the technique explodes like pounding a pestle. Carefully maintain your own centre of gravity. Those who lose it will have no achievement. (Tan Meng-hsien)
Cleanse your mind and concentrate on the slowness and evenness of your movements. (Dr Paul Lam)
There is a lot of confusion about what tai chi is, and what tai chi is. Mostly everybody is concerned with what form is being done. "Oh, I study from so and so, and he studies from Master Tsung - or Master Choy - and this is Ma style and this is the Wu style and this is the Yang style. What do you practice?"
I say "I practice the Huang style." My style comes out of all these other styles, and I have to develop to the point where it becomes me. (Chungliang Al Huang)
A child is spontaneous; he doesn't try to be. Spontaneity comes - it just flows, like rain. Thunder comes, trees grow, flowers open.
You don't force a flower to open; it opens by itself. (Chungliang Al Huang)
You often see people practicing tai chi quite concentrated. There is a hush and everything stands still except the moving body.
Don't make it an antiseptic, sacred, exotic oriental thing.
Is your body moving like the sound of the ocean? Like the crackling of the fire log? The wind? The space between leaves on a tree?
Or are you moving like arranged pieces of furniture, very consciously put-together? (Chungliang Al Huang)
Another problem is that the master may try to teach you what he can do now as a result of years of practice, instead of showing you a process that can gradually lead you to this. (Chungliang Al Huang)
As we work, we use the form as a guide. It is something we work with, not something you learn to show off.
The form is a process that serves you, not an adornment you bring back to hang on your wall. (Chungliang Al Huang)
The Tao Te Ching is a very beautiful learning and meditation book. It is like a zen koan: either you dismiss it as nonsense, or you have to dig in to understand it. It immediately takes you out of that intellectual confinement of getting stuck with ideas, with what you think you know. (Chungliang Al Huang)
Tai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process. (Chungliang Al Huang)
In tai chi we do not train ourselves so our bodies are distorted in one way to achieve something special. (Chungliang Al Huang)
One of my friends studied judo for years and years. She was waiting for a chance to use it, but for a long time nobody tried to attack her. Then one day somebody grabbed her in a parking lot - and she slugged him with her purse! And then she thought, "Oh! What happened to my judo?"
She must have been practicing judo as if it were an isolated thing. We should always practice to let the immediacy of the moment come through. Then you always have a sense of what you are doing now. (Chungliang Al Huang)
Some of you have talked about learning a short form of tai chi, which has certain transitional motifs eliminated. The reason for these repeating transitions is to help you flow within the form - to ride over it without thinking. When these repetitions are cut out, some of the major movements become awkward and jam together. The sequence loses some of its smoothness. (Chungliang Al Huang)
The yin/yang symbol is the interlocking, melting together of the flow of movement within a circle. The similar - and at the same time obviously contrasting - energies are moving together. Within the black area there is a white dot and within the white fish shape there is a black dot.
The whole idea of a circle divided in this way is to show that within a unity there is duality and polarity and contrast. The only way to find real balance without losing the centring feeling of the circle is to think of the contrasting energies moving together and in union, in harmony, interlocking.
In a sense this is really like a white fish and a black fish mating. It's a union and flowing interaction. It's a consummation between two forces, male and female, mind and body, good and bad. Its a very important way of living. People identify with this kind of concept in the Orient much more than in our Western culture, where the tendency is to is to identify with one force and to reject the contrasting element. If you identify with only one side of the duality, then you become unbalanced.
Tai chi can help you to realise how you are unbalanced and help you to become centred again as you re-establish a flow between the two sides. So don't get stuck in a corner, because a circle has no corners. If you think in this way, you open up more. (Chungliang Al Huang)
By comparing, you detach yourself from the flow of what's happening in you and around you and become preoccupied with evaluating and judging, thinking and worrying. (Chungliang Al Huang)
She did not consciously think, "Ah, today I learned this and that; I gained this much." You do not do it step by step that way, by adding on coatings of varnish, or new paint. When learning becomes you, then it appears as you need it, when you are being you. Sometimes true learning surprises you when it emerges. (Chungliang Al Huang)
There are no beginnings or endings. (Chungliang Al Huang)