Hipsters of the world unite and take over.

Posted April 14th, 2017 in News, Push Hands, Reference Material, San Sou, Short Form, Sword Form, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

In the  Tai Chi classics there is great mention of the hips or waist and the importance it plays in our Tai Chi practice. Yang Cheng-fu draws two of his 10 Golden rules of Tai Chi together to highlight this when he speaks of Loosening the Waist and uniting both upper and lower parts of the body. These 2 particular points have a special relationship in helping the body work as one unit.

This is not just for form practice but actually for all Tai Chi whether it’s open hand forms (Short and Long), Weapons forms and Push Hands too. Why are the hips and waist so important?

The hips/waist are at the bottom of the spine and therefore are the foundation for everything that happens in the upper body. However the hips/waist also sit on top of the legs and also act as the gateway to allow our root from the feet that then channels all movement up the legs to pass onto the spine. It’s like a lock-gate that you would see on a canal system on the river ways in that it controls what passes through it. Again the classics speak very clearly on how we transmit the force for all Tai Chi movement in our body when it says Qi is rooted in the feet; channelled  through the legs; directed by the waist onto the spine and then is expressed in the hands and fingers by way of the arms.

A common feeling in practitioners who cannot feel the whole body as one unit is that the legs move and the upper half of the body including the arms move separately. This is because the waist is closed and does allow the unification of upper and lower.

If we forcibly turn our waists with strength then we usually close it and we still keep the upper and lower separated. However if we sink our waist and hips, and like Tai Chi teachings make it feel like a ball on water i.e. frictionless, then we open it and can allow all the work we do with our feet connected to the ground to transmit naturally up through to the spine.

Push Hands is an excellent opportunity to learn how to loosen the waist and make it feel like a ball on water. In Push Hands we need to unite the sensitivity of the upper half of the body with the work done by the lower half of the body for yielding and attack to be successful. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the key to this is the loosening of the waist. In this way the hips/waist have 2 functions:

  1. As mentioned their looseness allows us to make 2 separated movements of upper and lower into one whole body movement through connecting them together.
  2. The loose turning of the waist is how we yield and neutralise an opponents attack.

When the lower lumbar of the spine is closed the backside protrudes a little and this is a physiological sign that the Tailbone/Coccyx known as the Wei-Lu in Tai Chi and Chinese Medicine has not sunk downwards to help lower alignment of the spine. Some Tai Chi schools of thought say we must tuck the Wei-lu down and in, which is not entirely correct. If we do this physically and with force tension can still be held and the waist actually can still remain closed. So we sink our mind intention or Yi down through the whole pelvis, and the effect can be felt very subtly at first of the Wei-lu dropping and an opening or greater connection from the legs up onto the spine. This opens up and connects upper and lower as Yang Cheng-fu instructs us. When we walk around in our normal lives it is a significantly valuable practice to sink the mind down through the pelvic region and let go of the waist all the time to open up the hips/waist.  This allows us to develop it as a good habit, and when we practice any form solo or with a partner we must try to do the same.

The other benefit of doing this, in and outside of our Tai Chi practice, is that it keeps the mind quite low in the body and thus naturally allows us to sink the Qi and reduce upper body tension, which is good for Tai Chi in general as well as our health. So in summary, the hips/waist help us to advance in our practice in all areas in Tai Chi and also help provide a better quality of health too. So make it your habit to loosen the waist, unite the upper and lower body into one and for Qi and internal force to take over tension and dissolve it so nothing obstructs your internal practice and experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use the force: from foot to hand

Posted November 29th, 2015 in Course Material, News, Push Hands, Reference Material, San Sou, Short Form, Sword Form, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

In Tai Chi we always speak about various classical quotes from the canon of Tai Chi texts such as ” be rooted in the feet”, “the body moves as one unit”, “use the intention to move the body” and “keep the body sunk” etc. All these things are true and very important in Tai Chi and recognising them with actual experience helps us comprehend the teachings of the classics and what comes down through lineage teachers.

In order to assist us in developing our Tai Chi to the highest levels we all need to have clear instructions in what we are looking for as correct experience or else we never can tell if we have the goal in our sights.

So, attached here is an extremely useful pictogram of all the aspects one needs to get the Jin (or tai Chi intrinsic force) to come from the feet; through the legs; directed by the waist; up the spine and to separate between the shoulder blades to funnel out through the arms and hands. It simply splits down into the physical, energetic and mind aspects as a checklist of vital points one needs to get the force from foot to hand.

 

 

Song of the Essence and Application of T’ai chi Ch’uan – By Li I Yu

Posted October 12th, 2014 in Course Material, Long Form, News, Push Hands, San Sou, Short Form, Sword Form by Phil Vickery

Wu Yu-hsiang (who founded Wu Style Tai Chi) was a scholar from a wealthy and influential family who became a senior student of Yang Lu-Chan (founder of Yang style tai Chi). Wu’s most famous student was his nephew Li I Yu a formidable Tai Chi Master and a scholar who produced many manuscripts which are considered part of the canon of the tai Chi classics today. One of his most famous writing was called Song of the Essence and Application of T’ai chi Ch’uan. Please take some time to read and absorb the highly realised teachings he recorded which will contain many familiar sayings you may have read or heard in the classes: Li I Yu

Yang Cheng Fu’s 10 Essentials Points of Taijiquan

Aswell as preparation for the Long Form classes starting back in the new year 2014, this reproduction of Yang Cheng Fu’s famous 10 essential points of Tai Chi/Taijiquan is a vital check list for all practitioners.

The school will be concentrating on one point in turn each week where we will effectively have a Yang Cheng Fu term so we can understand each point and how to develop it in our overall practice. Please note this will not replace our actual syllabus of Tai Chi merely that we can examine the essential point in the form of: a partner exercise, a standing posture, posture correction, stand alone exercise etc. It will be overlayed onto what we are already learning as a working experience of understanding the Tai Chi classics better.

Please see the reproduced translation below from Yang Cheng Fu’s chief disciple Chen Wei Ming:

YCF Ten Essentials Points of Taijiquan