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(9 pages total)

The Key to Practicing Taijiquan's Skill and Form by Li Ya Xuan

... So subtle; so subtle; as if there is no sound.
Immortal, immortal; as if there is no shape..."

Prior to producing momentum, the body gesture should be stable and the balance completely centered. The mind and body should be relaxed. There should be no hesitation, no rigidity. Remove all distracting thoughts from the mind and allow the return of the body gesture to that state of being natural. With this, you can start to move.

When moving, use your heart/intention and qi to do the moving, to do the operation. Use your spine and waist as an axis in producing the boxing sequence. Your moving momentum should be like that of a moving cloud, like running water, like pulling a thread, and like a hanging thread. Usually twenty minutes to a half hour is about right to complete the frame. After practice your mind and spirit should feel uplifted; your mind and perception, clear. This will show that your practice is on the right track. Once you reach this level, you should quietly reach awareness. Reaching this level is really not difficult. Avoid rigidity and hardness in the body. Avoid moving the four limbs independently, by themselves. Use your intention and qi to carry the movement. The whole body should be relaxed. Sinking your qi and momentum to the lower place is taiji's correct rule. I (Teacher Li) have often seen taiji practicioners allowing their four limbs to move completely by themselves and to move without guidance. This may look fancy but it is a mistake.

Author's Portrait

Master Li Ya Xuan

After practicing awhile you should feel your palm and the inside of your fingers, i.e., the belly of the fingers, should feel the fullness of qi and intention. This proves that qi and blood have already reached the tip, the recesses, of your body. Based on this achievement, if you continue to practice your skill, you will eventually, spontaneously reach the level of awareness and connection. If you practice for a lengthy time without being able to feel this sensation, that means that your qi and intention and skill frame are incorrect. In that case, you should immediately seek a good teacher to guide you further, otherwise, if you continue to practice incorrectly too long, it will not be possible to ever make the corrections needed.

Use your mind to operate your qi. Use your qi to operate your body. Use your eyes to look inside, to sense how the body and the mind are connected; to see how your spirit and qi are relaxed. After awhile, you will automatically reach the level of unity of inside with outside; unity of upper with lower. If you pay attention only to the external skill movement, you are focusing only on external skills. Your spirit and intention should stay inside to facilitate, to reserve the quiet energy. When you use energy, the correct method is to have a harvest before you start. Remember, every movement should be clean and relaxed. With this your perspicacity, alacrity, and flexibility can grow. Avoid becoming angry and displaying combative signs such as clenching teeth and staring angrily with your eyes. Those intentions and mannerisms are harmful; avoid them.

Some may ask, "If you do not have intention during the practice, when you need it during combat, how can you then use it?" Actually, practice is the time for building and accumulating your qi and spirit. If you consolidate your qi and spirit, when you need them, they will easily come out. If during practice you become extremely angry and show such energy and qi externally, you will exhaust your qi and spirit. In this case, since your qi then cannot accumulate, when needed you will not have a sufficient supply to be able to make a truly surprising movement.

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