Two aspects define this exercise. First, develop the technique of using the body like a ‘bow’, and second, in so doing ‘generate’ huge amounts of energy! To achieve this ability, the physical body must cultivate three-roots, a) the ‘lower’ or ‘foot’ root (脚根 - Jiao Gen), b) the ‘middle’ or ‘waist’ root (腰根 - Yao Gen) and c) the ‘top’ or ‘head’ root (顶根 - Ding Gen). The ‘middle’ or ‘waist’ root is inherently linked to the ‘dantian’ (丹田) - or ‘centre of energy self-cultivation field’ situated two-inches below the navel and also referred to as the ‘Life Gate’ (命门 - Ming Gen). The ‘head’ (top) and ‘foot’ (lower) roots should be visualised as being ‘set’ firmly in place. The ‘waist’ (middle) root – which inherently and continuously connects the ‘top’ root to the ‘lower’ root - is then completely ‘free’ to move in a forward and back direction which does not break the all-round ‘rootedness’ and does not disrupt the harmony of the all-round alignment of the three-roots. As the ‘top’ root is linked to rarefied consciousness and divine creativity, this sense of ‘righteousness’ should permeate the other two ‘roots’ and saturates the entire mind and body of the individual practitioner. This ‘divine’ consciousness flows from the ‘head’, through the body (‘middle’ root) and down into the ground (through the ‘foot’ or ‘lower’ root). This downward flow is inherently linked with the forces of gravity which is an amalgamation of Jing (精), qi (氣) and shen (神). This combined force hits the ground and ‘rebounds’ upwards re-tracing its direction of travel. Although this energy circulates around and through the 12-14 qi energy channels that run through the entire human body – this energy-process also travels through the centre of the bones (both upwards and downwards) developing the inner marrow and outer bone structure).
What does this mean in practical purposes? A person who is so ‘rooted’ remains immovable when an outside force is placed against any part of heir still body. The more pressure that is exerted – the stronger their immovability becomes. Although the head and feet do not move – the waist act as a shock-absorber. Such a practitioner can absorb, re-direct and divert all incoming energy through an expert ‘waist’ positioning and subtle repositioning. Indeed, such an ongoing procedure will ‘tire’ a continuously ‘pushing’ opponent. All incoming force is redistributed through the hollow centre of the bones and safely into the ground. This simultaneously disarms an aggressor and ‘strengthens’ the immovability’ of such a practitioner. The expert positioning of the skeletal frame allows the movable waist to infinitely divert incoming force away from achieving its objective of ‘uprooting’. Once the ‘integrity’ of the opponent’s strength is broken, the movable ‘waist’ can be used to ‘repulse’ the opponent and ‘uproot’ his stance.
Righteousness and ‘stillness’ are identical. When movement is correct – then ‘righteousness’ and ‘movement’ are correct. The posture can rotate and turn 180 degrees and the bow can be drawn. In an instant the bow can be ‘released’ and a tremendous force emitted in a focused direction. In reality, if the ‘lower’ root can be maintained, the other two ‘roots’ can be used to remarkable effect in combat – moving and adjusting to an opponent's movements and positionings. However, just as opponents can be unpredictable, an advanced martial artist must decide which ‘root’ to keep in-place and which ‘roots’ to move! This is how victory is assured. Stay polite and move around naturally seeking-out the openings. When it is time to deploy your advanced skills then the concept of ‘Yi’ (意) or ‘intention’ comes into play. When ‘rootedness’ has been properly achieved, then everything is achieved without any undue effort. Energy can be built-up in any area of the body and ‘released’ as your ‘intention’ sees fit. In this regard, ‘intention’, ‘righteousness’ and ‘rootedness’ are all mirrored in one another with one not existing without the other two. This type of unified power can be developed and used in any circumstance and always prevails over those with less spiritual development and martial arts skills. Just as the Jing and qi energy flows through all the energy channels and generates ‘shen’ as an empty mind – martial power of this kind appears to manifest without any undue effort. The secret, of course, is that the practitioner has spent years training the mind and body to achieve this ability.
The ‘intention’ is the product of ‘stilling’ and ‘expanding’ human consciousness so that it permeates out of the head area and traverses through the entire body and out into the environment in a 360-degree deployment. The developed ‘intention’ can draw jing and qi into a certain area for health purposes, healing and longevity. With the case of ‘shen’ developed from his congealment of ‘jing’ and ‘qi’ - all the advanced spiritual states are achieved. When combined with bodyweight and the principle of skeletal alignment – a deep and inherent combat power is formed as if from nothing! Bodyweight does not exist outside of qi and jing – but firmly within these facets of traditional Chinese thought. Bodyweight has always been an important facet of this ‘hidden’ power which makes more sense in a modern context. When its presence is clearly ‘perceived’ - then is falls firmly within the context of ‘shen’ - when shen is used to equate with an expanded conscious expansion! With ‘awareness’ tremendous vigour and force are generated. The mind and body can function to a greater extent of healthiness and be prepared for a successful martial encounter. Intention becomes the essence of Taijiquan (太极拳) and the foundational ability to both ‘adapt’ to circumstance and ‘generate’ tremendous force.
The main question Is ‘how?’ to use ‘intention’ to generate ‘effortlessly’ power? Within Taijiquan – the ‘Grand Ridge-pole Fist’ - the essence of this practice evolves around the principle of ‘frame’ (架 - Jia). Without understanding the use of ‘frame’ - there can be no ‘effortless’ power through the use of intention. For many people the question becomes ‘how to beat others without effort’? For most, this notion seems to contradict the reality of the material world and the use of ‘obvious’ force to defeat others. With regards to advanced Taijiquan practice there are ‘two’ forces which need to be mastered. 1) is the bodyweight which exists within the body of the practitioner, whilst 2) is the bodyweight which exists within the body of the opponent. The first drops down through the centr of the bones – hits the ground (thus ‘rooting’ a practitioner) - and then ‘rebounds’ upwards creating a reservoir of immense and effortless power which can be ‘emitted’ from any part of the body as the ‘intention’ sees fit! This process of modern physics ‘mirrors’ perfectly the thinking of Chinese traditional thinking and certainly does not contradict it! This amounts to 1) using our own strength and 2) using the strength of others. Most people remain complete unaware of these two methods of generating effortless power. Instead, they over-balanced, always ‘pressing down’ and stopping the natural rebounding force that gravity ensures is always being generated. To change this habit – the capacity to sense ‘intention’ from the ground to the top of the head must be cultivated. Instead of tensing the muscle to achieve this – the muscles are completely relaxed to allow the rebounding force to move up through the structure without hindrance. Sensing this upwards movement is the exercise of ‘intention’. This is combined with the ‘awareness’ of the bodyweight ‘sinking’ this energy into the ground and the entire cycle of ‘intention’ is attained... The qi (氣) sinks into the dantian whilst the head is ‘suspended’ and ‘buoyant’ - as if floating on an invisible cushion of air or held-up by an invisible silk cord. The top and bottom are united by a single ‘awareness’ and ‘permeating’ energy.
The most difficult aspect of generating ‘effortless energy’ is learning to distinguish between a deep ‘loosening’ (松 - Song) of the body-structures and a superficial ‘relaxation’ (弛 - Chi) of those same surface-structures. Although it is true that ‘relaxation’ is the first step of training whereby the muscles, ligaments and tendons are freed of habitual ‘tension’ - this is only the beginning as the ‘intention’ or ‘awareness’ permeates these structures and generates an entirely ‘new’ organisational structure that appears sub-cellular in origination. As the bodily-structures re-orientate (like the branches of a pine-tree ‘fanning-out’) energy travels through the area in a totally different way. This is why superficial ‘relaxation’ gives-way to a profound ‘loosening’. The bottom is ‘rooted’ and connected to the ‘head’ by the ‘middle’ or ‘waist’ area with no breaks in energy transmission. Superficial relaxation must transform into a state of profound ‘loosening’ or the body-structures will never be fully transformed. Indeed, the term ‘middle embracing’ (中正 - Zhong Zheng) refers to how the ‘middle’ communicates and relates to its surroundings. This can refer to its inner or outer surroundings and is not limited to any one dimension. It is both a psychological and physical reality. Another way of looking at this is the relationship between the ‘centre’ and the ‘periphery’. This can be summed-up as simultaneously embracing the states of ‘moving’ and ‘non-moving’. Whenever the centre moves it is always balanced and in harmony with the ‘still’ periphery – when the periphery moves it is always in harmony with the ‘still’ centre. The centre must be made profoundly ‘still’ in body and mind so that the nature and quality of its communication with what is forward, back. up, down, left and right is profound and all-embracing. Unnecessary movement is divisive, whereas ‘stillness’ generates harmony as the perfect balance between yin-yang (阴阳) relationship. When ‘stillness’ and ‘movement’ must interact, then it must be as a dynamic and symmetrical balancing of well-timed opening and closing – of allowing bodyweight ‘in’ and allowing ‘bodyweight ‘out’ - of allowing the opponent’s presence ‘in’ or keeping the opponent's presence ‘out’. Traditionally, this is explained through the mastery of the concepts of the ‘eight gates and five steps’ (八门五步 - Ba Men Wu Bu) which utilise the dropping and rising force (bodyweight and qi, etc) which opens into wide spirals or is ‘pulled’ back in to a ‘still’ centre.
The ‘eight gates and five steps’ represent the expert application of yin-yang interaction, and the application of advanced Taiji principles. However, without first realising and mastering the ‘still’ centre that is ‘all-embracing’ there can be no talk of perfecting the ‘eight gates and five steps’ - as the ‘eight gates and five steps’ arise solely from the mastery of the ‘all-embracing’ and ‘still’ centre. For most who learn taijiquan, however, these concepts mean nothing as they are not learned or even heard of. Simply practicing the movements of Taijiquan with no expert guidance is a fruitless task as you will remain just as ignorant ten years down the line as when you started. Study and seek instruction. Awareness is the key as a good instructor will teach a practitioner how sense their bodyweight and ‘feel’ its rebounding force. Without this – Taijiquan is just a set of meaningless exercises. This is achieved by a superficial relaxation being transformed into a profound ‘loosening’. Hard work must be a daily habit. Do not give-up and seek to achieve the maximum with the minimum. Calm the mind and expand awareness into the environment. Practice within this awareness so that mind and body unite and become one. Improve one aspect of training every day. If practice is of a good quality – then self-defence ability will manifest in an easy manner. Remember – even if the method is correct – Taijiquan might well take a long time to master. Seek good instruction.
Some people say: ‘Taijiquan can't be taught, IT can only be learned by experience.’ This is because many people possess vague notions of attainting ‘enlightenment’ (悟 - Wu), but no real knowledge of how to go about achieve it. Instead, they repeat superficial movements in cycles of performance within which there exists no transforming mechanism to ‘shift’ the structure from one manifestation to another. Even at the birth-place of Taijiquan, thousands have gathered over the last one-hundred years to practice the movements of the Taijiquan style – and yet very few can a) fight with the style, b) live long lives or c) attain enlightenment through such practices. This is true even of people who learn from well-known teachers with established lineages. Over-all, this leads to a deterioration of Taijiquan ability. The secret of mastering Taijiquan in all its aspects lies with the mastering of the placement and functionality of the ‘waist’ or ‘middle gate’, for when this understanding is lacking, the entire edifice of Taijiquan ability cannot be established!
Authentic Taijiquan technique, regardless of style or frame, depends entirely upon the perfection of the use of the ‘waist’. This explains why there are many references to the ‘waist’ and ‘waist management’ spread throughout the Classical literature of China. Such examples are ‘the waist is the master’, ‘the waist is the driver’, ‘the waist unites and controls the upper and lower body through the turning of the spine’, and ‘the mind’s awareness penetrates and controls the waist’ - are just a few examples of the extent of this importance. However, according to observations, many practitioners, especially beginners, are still not clear about this. Many chose to stand bolt upright, crooked or overly slanted; some do not know how to loosen their hips; others only know how to swing their arms but don’t know how to turn their waists, and their movements appear awkward and stiff. The analysis of the reasons for these errors is mainly due to an unclear understanding of the position, function and basic essentials of waist movement found within genuine Taijiquan principle and technique. The point is this - If you practice Taijiquan without training your waist, it will be difficult to improve your skills throughout your life. The author of this article would like to assist martial artists in China (and abroad) through sharing my own experience and humble insights. To sum-up the important position and function of waist movement, there are two main points:
太极拳特别注重腰部活动。经典著作中讲得很多，如“腰为主宰”“腰为驱使” “源动腰脊转股肱” “刻刻留心在腰问”等，都是说腰在太极拳运动中的重要性。但据观察，不少练拳者，特别是初学者对此还不够明确。有的立身不正，歪歪斜斜；有的不知松腰松胯；也有的只知旋臂而不知转腰，动作显得别扭、僵硬。分析原因，主要是对腰部活动在太极拳运动中的地位、作用和基本要领认识不清所致。正是：练拳不练腰，终生艺难高。笔者愿以自己的体会和浅识拙见，向拳友们讨教。腰部运动的重要地位和作用概括起来，主要有四点。
Contribution & Translation Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles
Beginners learn Taijiquan by replicating the "fist frame" (拳架-Quan Jia) - or the ‘physical structure’ of the Taijiquan style as taught by their teacher. The teacher uses the ancient method of teaching one step and one sequence at a time, so that each student can learn each step and each sequence before moving on to the next section. The teacher ‘expresses’ each movement one by one, whilst the practitioner imitates these movements ‘one by one’ until they become natural. This process is termed the "leading frame" (领架 - Ling Jia). Although the “fist frame” defines the physical appearance of the Taijiquan style, the essential and underlying reality of these movements contains an extremely rich content. It not only contains its extensive martial application, but this body of knowledge is closely connected to the internal strength-building (内功 - neigong) exercises. Authentic Taijiquan is passed on from one generation to the next through its readily recognisable ‘fist frame’ or stylised form. It is only through the correct preservation of the “fist frame” that all the other ‘hidden’ techniques are preserved and passed-on.
To effectively learn a style of Taijiquan, you must first seek out the correct “enduring image” (形象 - Xing Xiang), as taught by a reliable teacher. Logically follow the rules, be meticulous, and replicate each movement one by one and step by step. First learn the correct orientation of the body (that is, the correct alignment of the head, torso, arms, legs, hands and feet, etc), next perfect the hand positions and the techniques through which these positions are used, then perfect the footwork – learning ‘how’ and ‘when’ to step and stand-still, learn all the movement routes – that is how to step, when to stop stepping and how to piece each movement together into a smooth sequence of events, and through doing all this probably, mastery the ‘outer’ style of each style. The ‘outer’ methods are mastered first – then followed by a deepening of understanding and awareness whereby the ‘inner’ methods become apparent and are in-turn mastered. This creates a unified process which sees a relaxed mind, body and environment ‘merge’ into one complete reality of ‘awareness’ and all-embracing ‘presence’.
According to whatever the style of Taijiquan being studied, ensure that the ‘chin is placed-forward (and slightly down) so that the vertebrae of the neck are gently but firmly ‘extended’ and the head correctly ‘lifted’ and placed with a ‘rooting’ strength upon the shoulders. The head and neck – in relation to the shoulders – becomes both ‘buoyant’ and yet ‘heavy’ whilst being perfectly aligned between all its constituent factors. This alignment of the vertebrae extends down from the neck into the chest and lower back area (simultaneously confirming the ‘concave’ and convex’ anatomical structures), with each placed exactly where it should be above and below all other contributing structures. The shoulders are ‘rounded’ as they surround the ‘rounded’ chest-cavity and there is no contradiction in the head-to-toe alignment of the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. The chested is rounded as it fills and empties with ‘air’ and ‘qi’ (氣). Therefore, the concave and ‘empty’ chest (together with the relaxed and strengthened abdominal muscles) joins the neck and head in being both ‘robust’, incredibly ‘strong’ through ‘alignment’ and yet ‘flexible’ like the wind. The pelvic-girdle is correctly aligned with the vertebrae that emerge from it. The pelvic-girdle form a ‘bowl-like’ structure into which the mass of the digestive organs sits, manoeuvre and function, etc. From the pelvic-girdle the upper body is structured and lower body touches the earth. The pelvic-girdle connects to the ground through the bone, joint and muscle structures of the legs, which always includes the connecting tendons and ligaments all over the human body! The pelvic-girdle must be rounded and concave so that it aligns with the knees, and the ankles, whilst the knees remain ‘rounded so that the bodyweight can ‘drop’ and ‘rise’ through the area unhindered. The descending bodyweight drops into the ground through the centre of the anatomical foot-structure (which varies in exact location depending upon the technique being used). When all this is ‘corrected’, then it becomes obvious that the shoulders and hips, elbows and knees, wrist and ankles and hands a feet become permanently ‘unified’ and ‘aligned’ in their physical activity and non-activity (I.e., ‘standing still’, etc). As ‘awareness’ increases, the shape of the hand and the ‘exact’ placement of one bone to another becomes possible and is a skill repeated all-over the body including throughout the structures of the feet. In other words, the ability to ‘align’ and correctly ‘arrange’ the entire body in general – becomes a highly efficient ‘localised’ skill applied to the smallest area of the body itself. This is how tremendous power can be generated throughout the ‘frame’ and correctly emitted through with a ‘fist’ or the open ‘palm’. Conversely, huge amounts of power can be ‘absorbed’ through an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ hand, distributed throughout the Taijiquan ‘frame’ and harmlessly neutralised into the environment. This is how the ‘mind’ first ‘expands’ its awareness’ throughout a ‘unified’ body-structure (or Taijiquan ‘physical ‘frame’) before ‘expanding’ beyond the physical ‘frame’ and becoming ‘all-embracing’ and ‘all-inclusive’ of ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ in the physical environment! This is the process of how a material ‘form’ (形象 - Xian Xiang) become an immaterial, ‘mind’ or spirit-driven ‘form’ (神象 - Shen Xiang). If ‘physical’ Taijiquan practice does not evolve into a ‘spiritual’ Taijiquan practice, then a life of practice, determination and sacrifice has been entirely wasted! The teacher provides the ‘fist form’ - but you must practice ‘beyond the ‘fist’ and firmly cultivate the ‘mind’. Without this transformation, nothing substantial can be fulfilled. The ‘spiritual essence’ is contained within the ‘form’ and the ‘frame’ - but is dependent upon neither and must emerge from both. However, due to the nature of the complexity of Taijiquan design and practice, it is inevitable that some will encounter problems with their practice. Beginners are often prone to rigidity of mind and body and are unable to properly ‘adapt. The most common errors involve ‘stiffness’ (僵 - Jiang), ‘scattered’ awareness (散 - San), ‘discontinuous’ awareness (断 - Duan), ‘non-alignment’ (歪 - Wai), ‘non-rootedness’ (浮 - Fu) and other problems.
A) ‘Stiffness’ (僵 - Jiang) - involves ‘tension’ being hidden throughout the mind and body of the practitioner. It is a product of ‘habit’ that must be undone and countered through the practice of psychological and physical relaxation. Habits of thought that generate psychological tension must be ‘dissolved’. Simultaneously, the tension that abides within the muscle-fibres must also be ‘released’ through deep breathing and the focus of the mind’s attention upon the area. Eventually All mind-body tension (which is merely ‘blocked’ qi energy flow), must be a) ‘released’ and b) ‘reabsorbed’ into the entire mind-body system.
B) ‘Scattered’ awareness (散 - San) consists of a mind that is not yet ‘unified’ into a spiritual-whole so that the physical body is also affected by this ‘disunity’. A scattered mind inevitably manifests as a scattered body in the physical realm, whereas a unified mind which is all embracive of the physical body (and environment) inevitably provides the foundation for a fully united Taijiquan form. The ‘awareness’ must be ‘united’ by focusing the mind and disciplining its functionality. Once the psychological processes are ‘united’ - then the physical body (and its actions) will be permeated by this ‘unified’ awareness.
C) ‘Discontinuous’ awareness (断 - Duan), between the upper and lower body, means that there is no connection between the mind, body and environment. In other words, no ‘rootedness’ as the practitioners ‘awareness’ capacity is both incomplete and discontinuous. The upper and lowe body cannot interact in a fluid and smooth fashion. Q energy flow is ‘broken’ at crucial points (effecting ‘jing’ [精] and ‘shen’ [神] circulation, generation and transformation). As the top half of the body is ‘disconnected’ from the bottom half of the body – there is no transference of ‘awareness’, ‘energy’ or ‘ability’ through the pelvic-girdle. Beginners must observe and understand flowing water, reeling silk and clouds floating across the sky and how nature achieves these feats of action with no apparent effort at all. Human-awareness must extend fully in the ten-directions and not stop short at nine-directions! The practitioner must master the connection between ‘awareness’ and ‘movement’ - when such an awareness is ‘lacking’, then there is a ‘discontinuous’ awareness, or ‘break’ between areas of psychological and physical control. This problem can be resolved through practicing ‘deep’ relaxation of mind and body, as well as focusing the mind to ‘lead’ and ‘guide’ (引 - Yin) the awareness evenly through the physical structures of the body, so that ‘awareness’ always precedes and initiates all movement so that there is never a ‘break’ between ‘intention’ and ‘actuality’.
D) ‘Learning to lead’ (引 - Yin), or direct a strengthened, concentrated and united mind so that its ‘intention’ continuously precedes all movement both ‘within’ and ‘without’ the physical body. In this regard, conscious awareness must automatically permeate the ten directions and everything within those ten directions – including the individual mind and body. This is a continuous pulsation that exists during sleep and awake times and which is fundamental and underlying in nature. Guiding the awareness, however, ss subtly different as it is a ‘refined’ awareness operating within this meta-awareness. Whereas the meta-awareness permeates the cellular structure of the mind and body – this ‘leading’ awareness penetrates the cellular wall and permeates into the subatomic structures. It has within it a compelling and attracting force which can also be ‘reversed’ into a repelling force (like releasing the built-up energy in a drawn-bow). At other times, it directs awareness and ‘pulls’ the physical body into the various directions of movement required. It is nothing short than the evolutionary mind-body nexus. ‘Thought’ within this context, although appearing ‘spiritual’ and ‘other-worldly’ is in fact a very subtle form of substrative material reality.
E) ‘Non-alignment’ (歪 - Wai), refers to a disjointed and misplaced Taijiquan ‘frame’ (positioning) and ‘sequencing’ (form) so that the entire manifestation departs from the ‘law’ of the style, the philosophy of the tradition and the instruction of the teacher. Another description is that of a ‘crooked’ mind and body which mislead the practitioner and the world of taking the wrong direction. The body leans when it should be straight, or is straight when it should be leaning! The body remains ‘unrooted’ when it should be firmly affixed to the ground. The mind has no unified presence and is unable to penetrate and guide the the physical structures of the body. As there is no penetrative insight, the movements are ridiculous and disconnected. There is no awe-inspiring presence and no real Taijiquan practice taking place!
F) ‘Non-rootedness’ (浮 - Fu) can also be translated as ‘floating’ and refers to the non-dropping of the ‘qi’ (and ‘bodyweight’) down into the dantian (丹田) situated two-inches below the naval and through the centre of the bones (stimulating the bone-marrow) in the case of the bodyweight proper. Pockets of psychological and physical tension can prevent the qi-energy flowing properly through the eight special channels (and the numerous other major and minor qi-energy flow channels), as well as the bodyweight ‘dropping’ effectively through the centre of the bones down into the floor through the soles of the feet, etc. Eventually, the dropping of the bodyweight results in a ‘rebounding’ force which bounces the qi-energy back up the body through the centre of the bone marrow – a gravity related processes which eventually integrates with the qi-energy flow through the qi-energy channels. If an underlying psychological awareness of the deep structures of the body is not present, then neither qi-energy flow nor bodyweight movement will be understood or even known to exist! Instead, the external body will be separated into essentially top-heavy and insular compartments of disjointed and non-rooted entities! All is disconnected from the ground and from the awareness of the mind. Drop the awareness into the ground to rescue the mind and body from this hellish existence!
This is why the ‘fist frame’ is the mother of the Taijiquan system of advanced Chinese martial arts (as it conveys the ‘secret’ of how to ‘punch’ with extreme power! Each individual part of the body must be thoroughly penetrated and minutely understood with a fully develop and directed conscious mind – before each part of te body is ‘integrated’ (through accumulated ‘insight) into a ‘unified’ whole. Although a ‘form’ of Taijiquan made well hold continuous physical characteristics that continuously broadcast a well-known' style – it is the mastery of the ever-change ‘frame’ of the Taijiquan form that is vital for martial arts dominance and success in the physical world. Of course, the ‘form’ and ‘frame’ obviously over-lap and coincide but they are not identical. Whereas a ‘style’ of Taijiquan may well utilise a continuous ‘form’ or philosophical-physical approach – whilst a continuously changing, altering and adjusting ‘frame’ may be manifested by an expert practitioner. Whilst being firmly ‘rooted’ to the nourishing ground, an expert practitioner of Taijiquan is continuously manifesting the ‘root’ principles of the style, whilst also adjusting that particular ‘form’ (physical superstructure) to the conditions prevailing in the external world. A ‘fist frame’ facilitates ‘punching’ (or ‘open and closed hand techniques’ in general), whilst a ‘kicking frame’ opens the hip-area allowing for an array of ‘lifting’ or ‘floating’ leg techniques which uses the foot, knee or side of the leg-structure to ‘strike’ or ‘block’ whist standing still, or moving forward, back or side to side (although some of this activity might fall under the designation of a ‘stepping frame’ adjustment). An advanced ‘iron-vest’ frame allows for the bone structure to be utilised in a manner that deflects, absorbs or re-directs incoming energy, etc. There is even the case that suggests that the ‘frame’ of a Taijiquan style should be further adjusted as the age of the practitioner increases to counter the effects of ageing. With regards to self-defence, the body-shape, experience and motivation of an opponent will call upon the defending Taijiquan to adjust the type of ‘frame’ they manifest during hostilities. A Taijiquan ‘form’ that does not adjust its ‘frame’ (or the distance between the feet and between the hands), is then ‘stuck’ in manifesting just one particular ‘frame’. This is a common mistake today developed from a lack of properly qualified teachers.
When Taijiquan was ‘liberated’ from the limitations of feudalism in 1949 – there was not readily available a suitable cadre of instructors to carry-out this advanced ‘liberating’ policy. To remedy this, it was decided that initially it was enough for the ‘copying’ of the superficial movements (I.e., ‘form’) to take place throughout China, and that over-time, as this new approach of ‘openness’ settled in (with a limited single ‘frame’), the number of qualified teachers would increase. Today, this transitional stage Is still in operation, with practitioners seeking an ever-greater depth of understanding, although association with legitimate lineage masters that are coming to light. This is a slow but inevitable process. Taijiquan – the most advanced martial art ever constructed by the human mind – has been ‘freed’ from the few exclusive lineages that once controlled its dissemination. Although lineages till exist and their practice is disciplined, the knowledge they possess in now viewed as belonging to humanity.
Chinese Language Reference:
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.