|D.A.H. School of Chinese Internal Arts:
Tai Chi Ch'uan does not follow a grading syllabus in the same way as external styles. This does not mean that there is no syllabus nor a structured course of study. The following describes the contents, levels and achievements in Tai Chi Ch'uan.
TAI CHI CHUAN & QI GONG
Tai Chi Ch'uan is Qi Gong. It is a particular, complete, system of Qi Gong applied to the art of self defence. Qi Gong means to work on the Qi (Chi) or Vital Energy.
In Qi Gong 4 things are important:
1) The Body - the postures, shapes and movements
2) The Breath - linking the breathing with the body and its movements; particular breathing techniques.
3) The Mind - a particular mental state of relaxed, attentive, focus.
4) The Qi - focusing on, and moving directly, the Qi in the body and the exercises.
In Tai Chi Ch'uan all of these four plus 4 more:
1) Hsing - Form, the technical details of structure, function and technique.
2) Yi - Intent, clarity of knowledge and understanding to strongly will the forms and qi. Knowing exactly what you are doing from the inside.
3) Shen - Spirit, lively awareness, and unconquerable presence - Fighting Spirit.
4) Qi - Vital energy to fuel and energise the above three.
LEVELS OF TAI CHI CH'UAN
There are three levels of attainment in Tai Chi Chuan:
2) Spiral, or Chi, Energy
3) Effortless power
There are Six Secrets to attaining good Tai Chi Ch'uan in the Yang Chia:
1) Three Circle Theory; otherwise known as "No Blocking, No Wasting. Cultivating Roundness"
2) Yin - Yang Theory. Every move, posture technique has both a Yin phase and a Yang phase. Without both there is no Tai Chi. Remember Yin is the "mother" of Yang.
3) Spiral in the arms, sometimes called "Qi Form"
4) Center Turn.
5) Spiral in the legs, always open never closed in the Yang Chia.
6) Yin-Yang Head-Hands. The head and hands move in opposite directions.
There are two basic energies in Tai Chi Ch'uan; Yin Energy and Yang Energy sometimes called Suck-Spit, Pull-Push or Contract-Expand. Such words only partially describe Yin and Yang energies. The different applied energies are called Jing. Qi is the fuel and Jings are the power resulting from using fuel in the body in particular techniques and training.
SEQUENCE OF TRAINING.
Training starts with Foundation in Three Circle Theory and Yin - Yang Theory. This is accomplished by learning Form and testing Posture. The emphasis is on the learning of good qi gong and is directed by the four points of qi gong. Tai Chi Ch'uan is said to be easy to learn and hard to correct. Foundation learning is essential to mastering the art in the long term. This is also the level of major health benefits. Today many students are content at this level. Sadly too many people teaching Tai Chi Ch'uan cannot go beyond this level. At the end of this level students must be able to perform the Long Form completely solo and are able to identify all the Yin/Yang changes and phases in it. This level can be called Empty Yin, learning to clear the body internally so that external forces can be "drained" through the body into the ground through "rooting". This takes at least 12-18 months.
The next phase of training concentrates on Spiral Energy. Through more active testing, two person exercises and applications the form is refined and perfected. The syllabus of study is the remaining four secrets; spiral in the arms, center and legs, and yin/yang head/hands. Weapons training is introduced and students are recommended to perfect the mirror image of the solo form. The aim is to develop Yang Energy and the capacity to Fa Jing, explosive whip-like power. This can take several (2-5) years.
The final phase is the level of Effortless Power. The energies of Yin and Yang are cultivated through Push-Pull study, and the refinement of the use of the hip joint sometimes called the "Hip-y Form". This is the level of Active Yin. Yin is the mother of Yang. Shen and Yi become most important here. A life time is required to perfect this level.
THE PHYSICAL CONTENTS OF YANG CHIA TAI CHI CH'UAN
Tai Chi Chuan comprises Yin and Yang in harmonious integration. This is reflected throughout the art. Physically, since both Yin and Yang must contain a wee bit of the other, the exercises are in two divisions:
Movement in Stillness
Stillness in Movement
Movement in Stillness
Standing Qi Gong - zhang zhuang, 6 Palm Qi Gong, several Qi Gong walking exercises. Yang Chia Tai Chi Qi Gong from the Yang family documents of Chen Kung.
Stillness in Movement
Small Circle Long Form of Yang Cheng Fu, Do (Sabre) Solo Form, Chien (Sword) Solo Form,
Two Person Exercises containing aspects of both of the above
Tui Shou (Pushing Hands)
Double Palm - Big Circle & Small Circle
All Tui Shou can be performed in both Fixed Step and Moving Step styles,
Fixed is usually first.
Da Lu (Great Pulling) to the four corners with active steps.
Tui Shou and Da Lu together comprise the study vehicles for the:
Pa Kua, 8 Directions, Techniques:
Peng - Yang, expand energy, the "Father" of all techniques. Chien
Lu (Pull) - Yin, contract energy, the "Mother" of all techniques. Kun
Ji (Press) - Two limbs working together - very powerful. Kan
An (Push) - Double Palm strike. Li
Tsai (Pluck) - Pull technique. Sun
Lieh (Split) - Power issuing technique. Chen
Zhou (Elbow) - Elbow power. (Also Knee) Tui
Kao (Shoulder) - Shoulder power (Also Hip strikes) Ken
San Shou - Two person Tai Chi Chuan, the Fighting Form.
Two Person Chien (Sword) - Sword technique Fighting Form.
Pushing Swords - Like Tui Shou but with swords. 4 versions.
Chiang (Spear) - In Yang Chia no Solo Form only paired exercises,
4 Part Spear
Sticky Spear (4 parts)
Five Element Spear Techniques
All together 13 spear techniques.
Gun (Staff) - essentially the same as the Spear
Also at advanced levels weapon against weapon e.g. sword versus spear, and empty hand against weapons.
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