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(2 pages total)

Page 2 - Three Speeds of Taiji

Slowing Down Phase II

I believe the most important phase in Taiji is what I call the phase II in which students practice Taiji in the slowest possible way. In this phase one does Taiji as slow as possible, moving as little as possible and feeling each and every motion. One concentrate on each movement of one’s body and settles into each form of Taiji, so we start just moving our arms up and down very, very, slowly. Then we go from form to form moving as slowly as possible feeling each step, starting from the feet feeling each step to the calf, knee, hip, chest, shoulders, elbows, writs, hands, neck, jaw, face, eyes, top of head. This process can take up to 2-5 minutes just to do one section like “grab the birds tail”. Moving this slowly students can feel the form and relax into it. This also allows students to find the places where they hold there stress and let it go.

This allows them to immerse themselves into “grab the birds tail” and become one with that form. As one moves slowly from one section to the next we natural sink more, breath deeper and relax. One also stops thinking of the next steps and puts all one’s focus on the form they are doing at that very moment, this allows the mind to become clam. When doing Taiji this slow it can take a good 20 to 30 minutes just to do the short form. But, you will find your Taiji change very quickly and have a deeper respect for the form.

Phase II becomes more like Chi Kung and moves one into the part of Taiji that is a moving meditation. I really believe if you practice this way of doing Taiji you will be able to feel the earth moving all around you. While doing Taiji this slowly your form with change and you will experience new level of Taiji and your being will change also. Your life will to slow down also and you see things in a different light. Your reflexes become shaper and your awareness become shaper. I have had students tell me when a something is falling like a cup or dish, all of sudden it seems that it’s moving in slow motion and they are able to catch it before it falls to the floor. They tell me how it seems that everyone is running around so fast and they are calm and see how everything is moving so fast. I once had a student who was a nurse who worked in the ER and since she learned Taiji when there was a problem, everyone was running around going crazy she could see clearly and stay calm and solve the problem, her fellow nurses couldn’t believe how she could stay calm. She told me that she could see it all happing in slow motions, which helped her do her job better.

Once you have practice this way of doing Taiji than you can go back to doing it in it’s normal pace. You will find your Taiji has changed for the better and you will see Taiji in a new way.

Speeding Up Phase III

After doing Taiji at normal pace and than really slow pace, the last aspect is doing Taiji fast. In order to balance out our Taiji it helps to learn Taiji in all difference forms, this includes doing it as fast as possible. We cannot understand Taiji unless we explore it from many difference viewpoints. Just like we would never get on the highway if we only knew how to drive slow, or ride a bike cycle if we only went slow, in fact we would fall over if we went too slow. Sometime we need to push ourselves into a new gear to understand how it feels and how we can use it.

Once we are comfortable doing Taiji at normal speed and slow we will again find a new joy out of going fast. In order to help understand this, just think of doing Taiji if you are fighting one person or many people. Using the form to move from one situation to the next. Using all the different forms to kick, turn, sink down, punch, strike as if we needed to use them on someone or many people. We would never just move slowly if we were being attacked, we would need to move as quickly as possible to defend ourselves. Doing Taiji fast shows us how to use the form in a new way. It helps us understand what the moves are for and how to use them in dynamic way. Just as we need to learn how to move quickly in push hands, we should also practice Taiji fast so we can experience potential benefit of Taiji. Life doesn’t always come at us slowly sometimes we need to react quickly and doing Taiji fast allows us to be ready for those situation. Whether its’ using stepping out of the way, needle to the bottom of the sea, or any of the other movements in Taiji will help us respond to any situation when we need to move quickly. And when we do Taiji fast it looks like a dance and one is turning spinning and move in a very fluid way.

When we combine these three elements of doing Taiji we deepen our knowledge and understanding of Taiji, we take it deeper and find new levels to explore which grounds us in our form and at the same time expands our experience of this special and unique form.

Ralph A. Johnson has been teaching taiji, yoga and meditation for the past 25 years in the New York, Connecticut area. He owns three natural foods stores and has written articles for "Tai Chi Magazine" and "Qi Journal". He currently working on a books about his taiji experience. He is also looking to write a book about how taiji has changed people’s life. You can contact him at 110 Church St., Guilford CT 06437.


Published in the Autumn 2010 issue of Qi Journal

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