Page 3 - The Key to Practicing Taijiquan's Skill & Form
Master Li Ya Xuan
When doing the skill, do not just move your four limbs. Rather, use your mind to move them; use your qi to carry them; use your waist to guide them; use your intention to induce. With this the upper, the lower, the internal, and the external can become connected by one qi; this is needed.
If you make even just a single gesture, not only must your four limbs open but also your mind, your intention, your chest, should be closed first; then all open together. All movement always starts from inside and goes towards the outside. This is why tai qi is called an internal skill, an internal kung.
Internally you should use your mind and intention as the host, the head. Externally you should use the waist and the spine as the axis; be completely centered. Internal/ external, upper and lower parts all become one. With this there is something whose wonder is beyond understanding.
Seek coordination of the upper and lower. This is the beginning step of practice. Next, try to sense gingerly, look for something very light, flexible, like cotton - soft. This is the middle level skill. Finally, seek the empty and nothing in there. This is the last research focus. When your body is light and flexible, there is still something there. If you reach the level of empty and nothing, then actually everything will follow your intention. This really is reaching the most wonderful, mysterious level.
When Teacher Chengfu pushed hands and used his launching energy, his eyes would give a certain extremely stern and dark look that caused fright. The opponent then would feel stunning surprise and deep fear of loss of life or eminent death. This shows how the spirit and body can become one within a moment; how the whole body force can be mobilized, concentrated, focused and produced within an extremely short period of time. Because this happens within the briefest of moments with the quickness of a thought, so suddenly, the opponent is not able to make a defense. Besides that, there is no way to defend against this.
Everyday, when we practice, we practice slowly. This slow practice helps accumulate the spirit, qi, and intention. This is how the internal and external cooperate to show such wonder. If you practice too fast, not only will you not accumulate spirit and qi but, internally and externally, the parts can not cooperate to the appropriate degree needed. Therefore, even if you do the launching energy, it will not be full. In addition, neither will your force be capable of surprise.
When the whole body relaxes, the upper and lower parts must be completely relaxed. This is one of the necessary conditions of taijiquan. If your movement is not complete, or is complete but not relaxed; or if you only relax your shoulder but your waist, kua, belly, and back do not know what is relaxed; or after practice, your palm does not feel inflated, then this shows you did not have the right teacher. I have often seen practicioners shake their body and make lots of sounds. Their heads are like those of sale-pitching people; swollen, manicured, proper, everything in place, and with a look of arrogance and a condenscending attitude. They think taiji only "talks" about being soft and does not "speak" of force. Actually, these types of arrogant, over-confident people do not know that taijiquan has it's own theory and can only be learned from a teacher. It is not something you can learn by mere observation. Taijiquan is not something you can just figure out by yourself at home.
In the practice, you should feel the whole body relax and also feel the movements being clean. If the whole body is stable and sunk then the whole body will be comfortable and connected. In every movement you should quietly think of how to use your intention, of how to send your intention to the other's body, and of how to enter inside the other's body. With this method, after a long period of practice, you will see progress.