Ups and Downs…and Ups.

Posted August 6th, 2020 in Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

Tai Chi is an internal art and when one makes advancements in it brand new worlds open up. We could say with the closing down of incorrect practice and old habits, the truth opens up in our practice. It is important, now more than ever, to regularly consult the Tai Chi classics in your personal practice to keep in check that your Tai Chi is correct.

Words and books and even videos are helpful in our practice but they can never be a substitute for actual practice, which cumulatively, will reveal the secrets of the internal. A teacher is necessary to get you through the door of the internal but after that, you too must become your own teacher as well. Experience of your practice will directly help you understand what internal is and how it can be utilised for health, martial art and spiritual endeavours too.

As an example, sinking the qi down the front channel of the body to the Dan Tien (the centre of gravity in your body, detailed by internalists as about 3 finger widths beneath the navel and 3 finger widths inside the body), and then down to the feet causing it effortlessly to the rise up the back channels of the body out to the hands, may seem like an idea at first and nothing much more. However when you can experience the whole body act of this happening with the Yi (intention) guiding the wave of movement around the body, it becomes suddenly real and very tangible. It feels very pleasant and on achieving this major internal goal in our Tai Chi practice it teaches us exactly how can be used for health and martial art just because it exists. This is example is the description of the mind mobilising the internal force used within all martial applications and push hands. If used in a standing posture it becomes very pleasant and opens the body up making it lighter and pliable. It heightens the sensitivity so vital for listening and sticking methods in push hands.

Again these are merely words describing a level in Tai Chi that can be achieved. To actually experience it in your Tai Chi form and partner practice suddenly gives a whole new dynamic to your practice and sets the minds curiosity on an even higher level of adventure and development. However, with all realisations and movements from one level of Tai Chi to another it is common to feel (usually just before it) that our Tai Chi isn’t going anywhere and has become unsatisfactory. Here is where regular practice and consulting the classics can help us overcome any negative thinking that may impede progress to higher levels.

As is explicit with the Tai Chi diagram itself of the Yin and Yang, there cannot be progress without falling down first. Or, to be more motivational, practice can seem hard and of little benefit at times. We can go in and out of highs and lows in our personal development in Tai Chi until we come over the horizon and make big leaps in shifting evermore from outside to inside, external to internal. Remember it has always been viewed like peeling the layers of an onion in Tai Chi development until you reach the fresher and more original juice of the onion. So it is the same in our practice from external muscular strength, to softer yielding strength, to energetic modes (Jin, Qi and Yi). to mental levels and spirit level. Finally our Tai Chi becomes as natural as the seasons turning and night and day switching around.

SO never be disheartened when you take a low in your practice. Consult the classics, when the teacher is unavailable, and allow the words to be absorbed. The actual literal translation of the words into your experience will be useful on one level, but allow and expect their truth to reveal their deeper meaning in your regular practice. A down will always eventually provide an up, so stay true to that natural oncoming reward, and an up will always provide us with a down, which should always be an opportunity to learn more and release unnecessary obstacles.

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