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ChiDragon

The Basic Concept Tai Ji Quan

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Now, we all know what Tai Ji means the "supreme ultimate"; "Ultimate extreme"; "Yin-Yang".

In Tai Ji Quan, the are two things that one wants to go to the ultimate extreme. They are the breathing and the physical body. Breathing is soft with the Yin attribute, the body is hard or solid with the Yang attribute. The goal in Tai Ji was to fine tune the respiratory system to its ultimate extreme(the most Yang state) and transform the body to a tip-top shape.

 

We always hear the common phrase in Tai Ji, 以柔克刚, "the softness dominates the hardness."

In this case with Tai Ji, it is the breath dominates the body. We know breathing controls the body, otherwise, without breathing the body will die. Hence, we want to dominate the breathing by fine tuning it to its ultimate extreme. In the same fashion, we want the body to have the ultimate strength. Fortunately, the ancients had found an ultimate method to accomplish the two. This method is called Tai Ji Quan.

 

Tai Ji Quan involves slow movements and slow breathing. The slow Tai Ji movements will force the body to go through all different positions as it normally should be capable of. While, doing the movement, the breath was going down deeper and deeper into the Dan Tian while breathing. Thus having the breath to reach the Dan Tian was the ultimate goal in Tai Ji or Chi Kung. The ultimate breathing method is, now, known as the "abdominal breathing" method. It was because the Dan Tian was located below the navel at the abdomen.

 

For simplicity, let's say that there two levels in Tai Ji, the primary and secondary. The primary level is for those who had not been exercising or with chronic illnesses, especially with a breathing problem. Without exercising, the muscles are stiff and may not be able to move at any position. The reason that Tai Ji practice begins with the slow movements was to adjust the muscles gradually for getting use to the different stresses which was being applied.

 

The improvement of the breathing was being done spontaneously while performing the slow movements. After a prolong practice continuously day-by-day, the muscle were fine tuned to have better tones. The breath are going down deeper and deeper. Finally, the breath had reached down to the Dan Tian. This breathing state has being called 氣沉丹田, "Sunken the breath to the Dan Tian", throughout the last two centuries. Many people are mistakenly interpret this character 氣(Chi) as energy; and mistranslated the phrase as "move the energy to the Dan Tian".

 

With the notion of "move the energy to the Dan Tian", most people were misled that breathing has nothing to Chi Kung. That was why some people advanced quicker and some was not improving at all.

 

At the secondary level, all the muscles were transformed to fast twitch type and they are ready for action. The breathing has been able to do abdominal breathing. Hence, the practitioner at this level was capable to control the breathing to assist all the muscles to Fa Jin(發勁). It is very important that one can control the breathing. How deep the breath was will determine the amount of Jin or body strength that can be exerted to the muscles. Another word, if one wants to exert 25% of the Jin, one will control the breath to go down 25% inside the body, so to speak.

 

In order to Fa Jin, the muscle must be contracted and the breathing has to be controlled by the depth. An experienced Tai Ji practitioner will never hold the breath but always breathe smoothly in and out without a pause. Thus that will keep the lungs to exchange gas at a constantly rate.

 

PS....

Your comments are welcome....!!! :)

Edited by ChiDragon

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Does the term taiji come from Zhuxi? Isn't that concept form Neo-Confucian metaphysics that introduced the idea of a
prime mover or "supreme ultimate" (tai-ji), which not only generated the cosmic forces of yin and yang but also served as the source (and sum) of the ideal forms or "principles" (li) around which material force (qi) coalesced to form all things. But by Ch'ing times and even earlier, interest in the notion of t 'ai-chi had waned considerably. Wing-Tsit Chan indicates, for example, that even among the followers of Chu Hsi, who made the "supreme ultimate" a central feature of his elaborate metaphysical system, many downplayed the subject or virtually ignored it. "The difference between the early Ming and Ch'ing Neo-Confucianists," writes Chan, "is that the earlier philosophers turned away from the Great Ultimate (t'ai-chi) to internal cultivation, whereas the Ch'ing Neo-Confucianists turned away
from the Great Ultimate to everyday affairs."

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1 hour ago, Mig said:

Does the term taiji come from Zhuxi? Isn't that concept form Neo-Confucian metaphysics that introduced the idea of a
prime mover or "supreme ultimate" (tai-ji), which not only generated the cosmic forces of yin and yang but also served as the source (and sum) of the ideal forms or "principles" (li) around which material force (qi) coalesced to form all things. But by Ch'ing times and even earlier, interest in the notion of t 'ai-chi had waned considerably. Wing-Tsit Chan indicates, for example, that even among the followers of Chu Hsi, who made the "supreme ultimate" a central feature of his elaborate metaphysical system, many downplayed the subject or virtually ignored it. "The difference between the early Ming and Ch'ing Neo-Confucianists," writes Chan, "is that the earlier philosophers turned away from the Great Ultimate (t'ai-chi) to internal cultivation, whereas the Ch'ing Neo-Confucianists turned away
from the Great Ultimate to everyday affairs."


The term “Taiji” originates in the Yijing. It was Zhou Dunyi, who briefly taught the Cheng brothers, who elaborated on the concept in his explanation of the Taiji diagram (which probably came from Daoism). Other Neo-Confucian philosophers like Zhang Zai had differing conceptions of the Taiji.
 

Calling Taiji “prime mover” is a probably inappropriate imposition of an Aristotelian concept that doesn’t quite fit with any of the Confucian cosmologies that I’ve seen.

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