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(4 pages total)

Page 3 - Qi and Quan

Picture 2

Picture 2

As in all Qigong, correct breathing is of vital importance. Breathing in while opening and breathing out while closing. Chen Jin (one of the most famous Chen style master whose writing was responsible for making Chen style known outside the Chen village) said when opening you are solid outside and soft inside and when closing you should be soft outside and solid inside. For example, in the Chen style 36 Form, Form 34 Forward Cannon Punch, bringing both fists backward and downward to near the left hip (see picture 1) is drawing the bow, then the punching with both fists (picture 2) is shooting the arrow. Breathe in while storing energy, your outside is solid and inside soft; then breathes out when punching out with the outside soft (and elastic) and inside solid (Qi sinks to the Dan Tian). When breathing in, Qi moves upwards and when breathing out, Qi sinks downward.

Opening and closing is often described as stretching out and relaxing. It is important to be aware that the muscles, ligaments and tendons can be stretching out even when moving closer to the body. When stretching out one must not over-stretched to the extent of becoming stiff, otherwise the Qi will stop its flow. The converse is true in that when relaxing, one must not collapse the muscles, ligaments and tendons; there should be a certain amount of ward off force (peng jin) remaining otherwise Qi collapses and the flow stops too.

Qi Movement

Picture 4: At the out breath, Qi sinks down to the Dan Tian. From the Dan Tian it moves up along the Governing vessel on the in breath, and then comes down along the Conception vessel to move in a circle.

Opening and Closing, breathe in and out in alternative pattern is the law of nature. All martial art styles follow this alternative pattern, although external styles tend to break the force, thus create a weakness. Taiji uses circular movement to facilitate the circulation of qi, make the changing of energy smooth and continuous without a break. The internal energy become stronger as it flows continuously gathering more qi. This is better illustrated by the concept of qi circulation.

2. Circulation of Qi

The natural Qi from birth deteriorates as we grow older, qi circulates and disburses over one´s head, chest or coccyx. So we continue to loose qi as we grow. Qigong and Taiji help to retain and cultivate Qi. To many people Taiji´s goal is: "to live forever and to stay forever young", the key is qi cultivation. To do this one needs to learn to be aware of qi, and to direct it circulation consciously so that it can be retained and enhanced.

Once one understands the opening and closing, the next stage is to move qi upwards as you open or breath in along the Conception vessel (a meridian or a Qi channel along the midline at the front of the body). The breathing should be done with mouth gently closed, tongue lightly touching the upper palate, taking the qi to the middle of the chest (at the acupuncture point of Shan Zhong, see picture 4) and definitely not higher than the throat, otherwise you will over strained and hinder the flow of Qi.

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