(This chapter is translated from an unnamed and undated source published in Chinese)

Taijiquan – Internal Martial Art

All kungfu styles, regardless of whether it is internal kungfu or external kungfu, pay much attention to internal force, where it is not advisable that “the heart is floating and energy is rough”, and where energy should be sunk down to the dan tian. Taijiquan is developed from such a foundation.

(Editorial Note: “Taijiquan” is spelt here in Romanized Chinese. In English it is usually spelt as “Tai Chi Chuan”. Please note that the “chi” in Tai Chi Chuan, is not the same as the “chi” in Chi Kung, which is the usual English spelling for the Romanized Chinese spelling for “qigong”. In Romanized Chinese, “chi” in Tai Chi Chuan is written as “ji”, which means “ultimate”, and “chi” in Chi Kung is written as “qi”, which means energy.)

A Taoist priest of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Zhang San Feng, invented Taijiquan. Actually, it is transformed from Shaolin Kungfu into a Taoist art of energy cultivation.

(Editorial Note: Some literature recorded that Zhang San Feng lived during the later part of the Song Dynasty, 869-1279.) It is reputed that Zhang San Feng lived for a few hundred years!)

Before the time of Zhang San Feng, an art called “Thirty Seven Patterns Long Fist”, which was a forerunner of Taijiquan, emphasized energy training. There was also an earlier term called “Taijiquan”. This showed that internal kungfu already existed. The Taijiquan practiced today was developed from Taiji internal art and Long Fist.

(Editorial Note: “Taiji’ literally means “Grand Ultimate”, figuratively it means the phenomenal Cosmos. “Long Fist” is a form of Chinese martial art.)

There is a Chinese martial art saying that “Internally train a mouth of energy. Externally train tendons, bones and muscles”. It does not refer to two different types of kungfu or martial art, but it means that both internal training and external training is to be trained together. One trains internally and also externally. The training should not lack any one aspect.

However, Taijiquan is not only a combination of internal training and external training, but it focuses on training internally. So, we refer to Taijiquan as a form of martial art, or a form of internal training. Those who learn only the external form of Taijiquan, do not understand what Taijiquan is.

I have two points of experience. The first is to understand that Taijiquan is an internal martial art. First, learn the philosophy of Taijiquan, which stimulates an interest in the practice and research of Taijiquan. The second point is to learn some qigong. With knowledge of qigong, one can understand and practice Taijiquan.

What is Qigong

Qigong is a collection of methods used by people in ancient times in their daily life to nourish life and overcome illness. An ancient medical classic, “Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor”, recorded that “Those who have suffered kidney problems for a long time, can stand facing south at dawn before sun rises, be spiritually peaceful and quiet, first hold the breath, then breathe in and swallow the breath, like swallowing some solid material. Perform this procedure seven times. Swallow and generate saliva. This is using qigong to cure kidney problems. It is also a method used by people who are weak to train qigong.

There are some records concerning qigong.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-906), the famous doctor, Sun Xi Miao, wrote a medical book that recorded a qigong training method to harmonize mental problems. “Place a bed in a quiet room. Place some blanket on the bed. The pillow should be about two and a half inches high. Lie down with face up. Fully focus on the breathing. Do not move even if flying birds settle on the nose. Breathe for 200 times. Ears do not listen. Eyes do not see. Heart do not think of anything.” This is a qigong method to enter silence.

During the Song Dynasty (960-1729), Mei Weng spoke about the methods for harmonizing breathing. “Close the eyes to look at the head of the nose as if there was white powder. Very peacefully, breathe out, like a fish in spring. After breathing out, breathe in, like a frog hibernating in winter. Breathing out and breathing in is really beautiful.” This is speaking about the long and deep breathing in qigong, enabling practitioners to enter silence like hibernation.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Li Jun Shi recorded in his book that “Chen Hai Fu was an old man of 62. His hair and beard were white. He met a marvellous teacher who taught him the art of nourishing energy. Chen Hai Fu seriously trained the art. After training for three or four years, his face looked younger, his hair and beard became black.” This was the result of qigong.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Yu Chi Yuan described a story. “There was a man called Wang Zi Kun from Jiang Nan. He suffered from an illness while at middle age. He could not sleep at night, and could not eat in the day time. If he did not take medicine, he could not get up from his bed. Someone taught him sitting meditation. Each time he sat for the time of burning one joss stick. He practiced for one month. One night, while he was meditating, he fell asleep. When he woke up, he felt hungry. There was no rice to eat, but there were some biscuits in a basket. He ate the biscuits and slept again until the sun came out. He felt very hungry. He quickly asked some people to prepare some soup and biscuits. He ate a few bowls. After eating, he rubbed his stomach and said to other people that “Sleeping and eating are so very comfortable. It seems I haven’t enjoyed such pleasures before.” Such benefits of qigong training are not rare or strange nowadays.

There are may training methods. Before introducing these methods, let me explain “hun yuan zhuang”, or Cosmos Stance. Cosmos Stance is a rather easy form of qigong. There is quiescence and movement. It can increase strength, and can cure illness, and can be used as a preparation for Taijiquan training.

The Methods of Cosmos Stance

Sitting on a Chair: Be upright and totally relaxed. But do not be rigidly upright. Drop the shoulders. Do not push out the chest or the abdomen. The two feet are about shoulders’ width apart. The feet are parallel, not in a V shape. Place the palms on the knees. This is the basic external requirement of qigong training.

Internal requirement: The two eyes look forward, but do not see. Ears do not hear. Close the mouth but do not bite the teeth. Place the tip of the tongue at the upper palate. Occasionally turn the tongue at the upper teeth and gum to generate more saliva. Swallow the saliva. Let the breathing be natural.

After sitting comfortably, lift up the two hands like holding a big ball. The hands should not be higher than the mouth. Open the fingers and do not tense the fingers with strength. When the arms are tired, you can drop them to rest for a while, and then lift them up again. The heart is quiet and the breathing is harmonious. The whole body is relaxed and still.

Pay attention that the spirit is peaceful and quiet. Gently examine the conditions of being relaxed and quiet all around you. If there is any discomfort, immediately rectify and be relaxed. If everything is performed well, sit for about 10 minutes, then start to perform the mobile technique.

Mobile Technique: After sitting, the heart and the spirit are peaceful and quiet. The whole body is comfortable. Then perform the mobile technique. The conditions for standing are the same as those for sitting. Drop the shoulders. Loosen the waist. Lift the two arms at parallel level. When the kidneys become sour, massage the back.

Lift up the right leg with the upper leg level with the ground. The lower leg and the ankle are relaxed. Bend the left knee slightly. The body remains upright without swaying. Focus is placed at the sole of the left foot. Do not rush, but you must be firm.

After lifting the leg and bending it at the knee, pause for a moment. Then put down the right leg. Simultaneously strengthen the left knee. Drop the right leg in front of the left leg. Do not step forward, and do not place the right leg at the same line as the left leg.

After dropping the right leg, place the body weight over the right leg. This is the first step. When the right leg is steady, lift up the left leg. Bend. This is the second step.

For each step, make sure you have good balance. The whole body must be totally relaxed when raising or dropping a leg. There is no need to worry about the breathing. The eyes look straight, and the body is upright.

The time for the mobile technique is determined by practicing without feeling tired. Initially, practice for about 10 minutes. Then gradually lengthen the time.

After training for a short while, increase the bending of the raised knee. To increase the strength of the leg, increase the time for pausing after lifting the leg. When the raised leg begins to experience some sour feeling, only then move to the next step. This mobile technique acts as preparation for the subsequent standing poise.

Standing Poise

Stand with feet apart about shoulders’ width. Bend the knees slightly. The requirement is like that of sitting on a chair. The body weight is at both feet. Lift the hands like holding a ball. For those whose arms are not strong, do not lift the hands above the mouth level.

Stand stationary like this without movement. Stand as long as possible. Feeling of sourness is to increase strength. But there must be rest. Those with high blood pressure should not lift their hands too high. They also should not train too long. Those with kidney problems may not train this standing poise or train for too long.

There is no need to worry about the breathing while training the Cosmos Stance. Train in a natural manner. When practitioners have attained a reasonable standard, they may add the breathing methods of qigong.

The best time to train Cosmos Stance is in the early morning. Practice at places that are peaceful and quiet. Go to the toilet before training. Do not eat breakfast, but it is permissible to have some drinks. For other training times, only train after two hours of eating food. Do not train with a full stomach.

Fundamental Qigong Training Techniques

There are many qigong training techniques, but the basic requirements are the same. The most important is to eliminate all thoughts. The mind should be pure and quiet. The spirit is focused inwardly. This is known as entering silence. As many people initially have difficulty entering silence, we shall first develop this skill.

Entering Silence: No matter what posture to be adopted, whether it is lying down, sitting or standing, first close the eyes, or half close the eyes, and focus on the middle of the two eye-brows. Later those who have the skill may not close their eyes. When all thoughts are eliminated, move the inner sight from the upper dan tian, which is located at the top of the head or between the two eyes, to the abdominal dan tian, which is at the navel or about 2 or 3 inches below the navel. By gently focusing at the dan tian, one can enter silence. Entering silence may be a bit long for beginners, but it is one of the most important factor in qigong training.

Breathing Method: When entering silence, there is no need to worry about the breathing, which is called natural breathing. After a practitioner has entered silence, he can focus on breathing. This is the training proper. Start from shallow to deep. There are three types of breathing described here.

Natural Breathing: It is mentioned earlier that the practitioner needs not worry about his breathing while entering silence. This is natural breathing. It is the type of breathing we do in our daily life.

There are also two types of natural breathing. One is chest breathing, where the rise and fall of the chest generate the breathing. The other type is abdominal breathing, where the rise and fall of the abdomen generate the breathing.

This is what people are accustomed to. It also shows the condition of his body. Those who are frequently sick, use chest breathing. Chest breathing is not good, it presses on the heart, and the movement of the lungs is not big. It is not favourable to the working of internal organs, and can easily cause organic disorder. Thus, in qigong training, practitioners have to change the habit of chest breathing. It is not easy to change suddenly. The change has to be gradual during qigong training.

Smooth Breathing: This has the features of natural breathing. When breathing in, the abdomen rises, when breathing out, the abdomen falls. This is similar to abdominal breathing. Pay attention not to use chest breathing.

Gradually use smooth breathing as the natural way of breathing in daily life. In smooth breathing the diaphragm separating the lungs and the stomach moves up and down which increases the capacity and function of the lungs, which is beneficial to the internal organs.

Reverse Breathing: Reverse breathing is the reverse of smooth breathing. When breathing in, the abdomen falls, when breathing out, the abdomen rises.

After a practitioner has trained smooth breathing well, he can train reverse breathing. It is when the diaphragm is already strengthened, and the capacity of the lungs is already increased, that reverse breathing is attempted.

Do not forcefully use reverse breathing by holding the breath, which may cause harm. When the diaphragm can naturally control its rise and fall, only then perform reverse breathing.

Reverse breathing enable the lungs to reach their great movement and capacity. It also enables internal organs to be massaged, strengthening the immune system to overcome diseases, and strengthen the body.

These various methods of breathing should be gradually mastered. This enables qigong training to progress.

What is Energy

Although the energy used in qigong is related to the energy breathed in from the air, it is not just energy from the air. It includes the energy from the air as well as pre-natal energy inside a person. It is also called “yuan qi” or original energy.

Original energy was originally present when a person is born. It came from the father and the mother. It resulted from the transformation of essence, and after birth it is reinforced by water and grain energy, which is called post-natal energy.

Pre-natal energy and post-natal energy are mutually dependent, and is the movement of life. The influence of pre-natal energy, like setbacks that happened before birth, is not unchangeable. Post-natal energy can rectify the weakness of pre-natal energy. One of the functions of qigong is to nourish original energy.

Where is original energy? It is at the dan tian.

(Editorial Note: “Dan tian” means “energy field”. There are many energy fields in a person’s body. But when the term “dan tian” is used without qualification, it refers to the abdominal energy field, which is located about 2 or 3 inches below the navel.)

What is trained in qigong is the energy at the dan tian. Dan tian is inside the navel.

(Editorial Note: “Dan tian is inside the navel” is a literal translation from the Chinese. It means the abdominal dan tian is inside the body at the navel region about 2 or 3 inches below the navel. Is it 2 inches or 3 inches below the navel? This depends on the size of the energy field, and also on the developmental stage of a qigong practitioner. At the beginning of his training, it may be 2 inches below the navel. At an advanced stage, it may be 3 inches. An “inch” here is biological. It is the length between the first joint and the second joint of his index finger.)

Before birth, the foetus depends on the mother’s nourishment. The pathway is the umbilical cord. Hence, the naval is where pre-natal energy is located.

The nature of a person’s original energy is like a machine that manifests his movement. If his pre-natal energy is plentiful, he can be effective in absorbing natural nourishment, and supplement from post-natal energy so that his pre-natal energy is even more complete and solid. Thus the dan tian is the source of manifesting energy.

Original energy is not “space energy”, or energy from the air, but in qigong training these two types of energy can be combined during breathing. During abdominal breathing when the diaphragm moves up and down, it gives us the feeling of energy following the movement of the abdomen.

The stronger the diaphragm is, the more we feel our abdomen is strong and solid. And the feeling of energy gently sinking to the dan tian is more obvious. This sensation is no longer the energy from the air, but energy from the dan tian. When we have dan tian energy, we can circulate original energy throughout the body. Herein is the real beginning of qigong training.

How does original energy circulate round the body? The pathway of energy circulation is the meridian pathway. To understand the concept, it is helpful to understand meridians and energy points.

(Editorial Note: There are two systems of meridians – twelve primary meridians and eight wondrous meridians. The twelve primary meridians are the three hand yin meridians that flow from the lungs, the pericardium and the heart down the inside of each arm, the three hand yang meridians that flow from the fingers on the outside of each arm to the colon, the triple-warmer and the intestines, the three leg yang meridians that flow from the stomach, the gall bladder and the urinary bladder on the outside of each leg to the toes, and the three leg yin meridians that flow from the toes up the inside of each leg to the spleen, the liver and the kidneys. The eight wondrous meridians are the conceptual meridian and the governing meridian that run round the front and the back of the body, the belt meridian that runs round the waist, the rush meridian that runs from the anus to the top of the head inside the body, and a pair each of the protection meridians and the bridge meridians that run the whole length of the body. Energy points are found along the meridians where energy is focused.)

During qigong training, original energy flows at the rate of about 30 centimetres, which is about one foot in British measurement, per second. Practitioners should not be hasty, and should not be excessive in using intention to lead energy to flow.

(Editorial Note: Most qigong practitioners, including masters, do not worry about the speed of energy flow during qigong training or at other times.)

The rate of breathing for ordinary people is about 15 breaths per minute. After qigong training for some time when the breathing has become deeper and longer, the rate is about 10 breaths per minute, or for the more advanced about 5 breaths or less.

The number of breaths and the speed of flow of original energy is the less and the slower the better. It is ideal in energy circulation if a practitioner can breathe only once a minute, enabling original energy to circulate once in the body, which is described as the Small Universe or the Big Universe.

When one starts to practice qigong, he may have some special sensations, like feeling as if insects crawling on the face, fingers becoming numb, movement of tendons and muscles, and swaying of the body. All these symptoms show that the training is correct.

Because of the differences in the nature of practitioners’ body, and in the methods they use, the reactions are also different. Practitioners should not be disappointed if they do not have these symptoms, nor should they chase after the symptoms. They should know that benefits will occur if they train correctly.

If practitioners feel unpleasant symptoms, it is because they do not relax enough or they use excessive force in their training. If they do not force their control or do not use muscular strength, unpleasant symptoms will not occur.

I have seen a young man bending his spine. During his training of Cosmos Stance, his back moved upward involuntarily. His stance training led to his whole body moving vigorously. This shows that in quiescent qigong there is also mobile qigong. As long as the training is natural, self-manifested movement will be generated at the oven of illness to overcome the illness, resulting in good medical effects. The bent spine will be straightened automatically, but this bending of the spine must not be voluntarily forced upon.

(Editorial Note: “The oven of illness” means the site or the root cause of the illness.)

It is best that practitioners should complete their training properly after each training session. “Complete the training” refers to directing original energy back to the dan tian, so that energy and blood will not be left behind at other places after their flow, which may cause adverse effects.

A technique is to use breathing in to lead energy back to the dan tian. First gently rub the dan tian with the hands in an anti-clockwise direction from the dan tian to outer circles. Then gently rub the dan tian in a clockwise direction from outer circles back to the dan tian. Eventually end the rubbing at the dan tian. Open the eyes, massage the face., and stroke the hair. Only then the training session can be considered completed.

(Editorial Note: There are variations to completing a training session.)

Six Stages in Qigong Training

What has been explained is qigong knowledge, not yet qigong training methods. There are may different techniques of qigong training. Their methods are different, but the principles are the same. Here we explain a range of qigong training in six stages, namely smooth breathing, reverse breathing, regulating the breath, breath harmony, throat breathing and internal breathing.

Each stage should be trained for more than two years. Qigong training is a way of life, which should be made into a regular part of daily living. Progress systematically and gradually. Practitioners should not be impatient. In these two and more years, in addition to Taijiquan training, practitioners can progress to internal training, increasing the benefits of their practice.

Smooth Breathing

Posture: The poise is the Three-Circle Stance. Stand with two feet apart with shoulders’ width. Bend the knees slightly. Hook in the toes like you are standing in a circle. Lift up the two arms at the level of the shoulders.

(Editorial Note: In some versions, the arms are lower than the shoulders’ height, but in front of the chest.)

Bend the arms like embracing a round ball. The arms are rounded, the hands are rounded, and the feet are rounded. Hence, it is called Three-Circle Stance. The inner requirements are like those of Cosmos Stance. Those who are weak can use their hands to support themselves against a wall.

Breathing Method: Use abdominal breathing. First breathe out gently through the mouth. Lips are gently open, and teeth are gently close. Touch the tongue at the upper palate.

(Editorial Note: In some versions of the Three-Circle Stance, it is not necessary to touch the tongue at the upper palate.)

Use the nose to breathe in gently. At first let the breathing be natural. Then gradually lengthen the breathing, from about 10 times a minute to 5 or less times a minute.

Intention and Energy: Be totally relaxed. Gently think that you are being hung up at the top of your head, and your feet stepping on the surface of water. On top you are drifting in the sky, below you are floating on water.

Time: The time of practice is one month.

Results: The results are that your lung capacity is increased, your chest is open, your appetite improves, and you feel spiritually uplifted.

Reverse Breathing

Posture: The posture for reverse breathing is also the Three-Circle Stance.

Breathing Method: When breathing out the lips are gently open, and the tongue dropped at the bottom of the mouth. Breathe out through the mouth and the abdomen rises. The four limbs are relaxed.

Breathe in through the nose, with the mouth close and the tongue touching the upper palate. The abdomen falls, grip the ground with the toes, and lift up the anus. The breathing must be slow and rhythmic.

Intention and Energy: When breathing out, gently think of energy flowing down from the top of the head via the chest to the dan tian. When breathing in, gently think of energy flowing down form the dan tian to the anus, then up the spine to the top of the head. This circulation of energy flow is known as the Small Universe.

Use intention to lead the flow of energy while breathing. The external form is relaxed, but the intention is focused. When breathing out, both arms and hands embrace firmly. The embracing is not in the outward form, but in the intention.

Outwardly there is no movement. When breathing in, both arms and hands extend outward. Use 70% of the strength when embracing, and 30% of the strength in extending. This is known as “seven embrace three extend”.

In the flow of the Small Universe, the breathing must be gentle and long. The whole body is relaxed. In embracing and extending, initially you may use strength, but eventually use intention. Strength must not be outside, i.e. strength must not be obvious. Be natural.

Time: The practice time is three months.

Results: Can cure lung diseases like asthma, illness of the intestines and stomach, heart problems, and high blood pressure.

Regulating Breathing

Posture: The posture is Three-Harmony Stance or Three-Circle Stance.

In the Three-Harmony Stance, the two feet are placed one in front and the other at the back. The spacing is about one step of the feet. The two feet are placed on two parallel lines, with the front foot pointing forward and the back foot pointing outward. Both knees are bent. The front leg supports about 30% of the body weight, and the back leg 70%.

One arm, which is on the same side of the front leg, is bent, with the hand at eye level, and the palm facing inward. The five fingers are slightly bent, with the index finger pointing upward. Focus the eyes at the index finger.

The other arm is dropped at the side of the body. The fingers point forward in the form of defence. The five fingers are loosely open. The structure of the body attains three external harmonies, which are the harmonies of the shoulders and the hips, the elbows and the knees, and the hands and the legs.

Breathing Method: The breathing method is the same as that of reverse breathing. When breathing out, feel the whole body sinking down like a landing drake. When breathing in, feel the whole body like flying up.

Intention and Energy: The breathing is deep and long. Energy circulates in Big Universe, which is as follows. When breathing out, gently think of energy flowing down from the head via the chest and dan tian and down the legs to the soles. When breathing in, gently think of energy flowing up from the legs to the spine and neck to the top of the head,

Time: The practice time is six months.

Result: It will strengthen the nervous system.

Breath Harmony

Posture: The posture is the same as Regulating Breathing, which is the Three-Harmony Stance or the Three-Circle Stance.

Breathing Method: The breathing method used is natural breathing.

Intention and Energy: The use of intention and energy flow is the same as that in Regulating Breathing, i.e. the Big Universe.

Time: The time of practice is two months.

Results: Strengthen the effects of the earlier three stages, i.e. Smooth Breathing, Reverse Breathing and Regulating Breath, enable the betterment of internal organs, can cure diseases of the digestive and the respiratory systems.

Throat Breathing

Posture: The posture is the same as Regulating Breathing, i.e. Three-Harmony Stance or Three-Circle Stance.

Breathing Method: When breathing, use strength at the throat, so that the passage of air has the sensation of massage. Strengthen and deepen the breathing.

Intention and Energy: Apply Big Universe or Small Universe.

Time: The time of practice is three months.

Results: Strengthen the functions of internal organs.

Internal Breathing

Posture: The posture is the same as Regulating Breath, i.e. Three-Harmony Stance or Three-Circle Stance, or Taming-Tiger Poise, which is described below.

Separate the two legs with one in front and the other at the back about 1 meter apart. The front foot faces forward, and the back foot faces sideways. Bend the front knee, but straighten the back knee. Place the hand on the same side of the front leg, on the knee of the front leg. Place the hand on the same side of the back leg, on the knee of the back leg.

Breathing Method: Use the nose for reverse breathing. The breathing is long and unbroken without making any sound.

Intention and Energy: Circulate energy in the Big Universe. The spirit is peaceful and quiet. Regulate the breath. And also regulate the scenery of the heart. Internally see the breathing. Be natural while breathing.

The breathing is gentle and long, as if there is breathing and there is no breathing. The breathing reaches the dan tian, and is peaceful, as if it has stopped. This type of breathing is that the dan tian is performing the breathing. This is called “foetus breathing”.

Time: The time of training is ten months.

Results: This is high-level qigong resulting in good health. Practitioners can readily enter into silence.

These six stages of qigong takes more than two years. It may seem a long time, but actually these two years only lay the foundation. If one wants to train a genuine art, to master real energy, to be able to enter silence in any condition and train qigong, not to be sick at all, lengthen life and attain longevity, he needs to persevere a few decades of qigong training.

Qigong and Taijiquan

What is the relationship between qigong and Taijiquan? Is it alright to train qigong when one trains Taijiquan? Or it is necessary to train qigong?

Qigong and Taijiquan are actually different, but these two arts are closely related. Thus, some Taijiquan practitioners suggest that Taijiquan and qigong should be trained together. I believe this suggestion is reasonable.

(Editorial Note: This is the view of the author of this passage. He probably refers to Taijiquan widely practiced today, which is mainly focused on physical form devoid of energy work. But Taijiquan, as practiced by past masters as an internal martial art, which is rare today, includes energy work. The internal force of Taijiquan, for example, is the result of energy work. In other words, by practicing Taijiquan itself is practicing qigong. There is no need, but it does not mean not beneficial, to incorporate other qigong exercises into Taijiquan, or practice other forms of qigong to supplement the energy work in Taijiquan.)

This is because Taijiquan requires practitioners to sink their energy to their dan tian. Those who do not know qigong, do not know how to do so.

(Editorial Note: When a person practises genuine Taijiquan, not just external Taiji forms, he has to gently sink his energy to his dan tian. For example, in the beginning pattern of many Taijiquan sets, called “Lifting Water” or simply called “Starting Pattern”, one of its functions is to gently sink energy to the dan tian. At the end of a Taijiquan set, a practitioner usually brings energy from the Cosmos to his dan tian.)

Taijiquan requires practitioners to be charged with energy. If they do not know qigong, do not know Small Universe and Big Universe, they will not be able to appreciate how to apply energy to supplement their martial techniques to be charged.

(Editorial Note: Without practicing other forms of qigong but just by practicing genuine Taijiquan, a practitioner would be charged with energy. For example, by just practicing “Grasping Sparrow’s Tail”, which is an important sequence of movements in Yang Style Taijiquan, a practitioner can develop internal force, which is the result of being charged with energy.)

In the training of Taijiquan, it is required that the movements are gentle, continuous and unbroken. From the perspective of external form, without knowing the internal circulation of energy which is soft and flowing, uniting the internal with the external, practitioners can only learn the external techniques of Taijiquan, without the internal aspects of essence, spirit and energy.

Another requirement of Taijiquan is hard and soft mutually applicable. Externally it is soft, but internally it is hard. Without knowing the charge of energy in the body, practitioners will not understand that external softness does not mean without force, and internal hardness is not brutal strength.

Taijiquan requires opening and closing. Those who do not know the Big Universe and the Small Universe of qigong, will not understand that opening refers to exploding force to strike an opponent or to send him flying away. This force is the result of conserving and exploding energy, manifested from the foot, leg, waist, shoulder, arm, hand to the palm and fingers in lightning speed. It is necessary to have trained the Big Universe to be able to apply this force.

(Editorial Note: Besides other wonderful benefits, the Big Universe is an excellent method to train and explode this force. But practitioners who have not trained the Big Universe can also train and explode force. “Single Whip” and “Jade Girl Threads Shuttle” are two of many Taijiquan techniques that can be used for this purpose.)

The movement of Taijiquan is actually the movement of energy. Hence, there is a saying that “Taijiquan is internal and not external”. The force of Taijiquan is energy. The healing feature of Taijiquan is also energy circulation that produces the effects of healing. Thus, I suggest that to learn Taijiquan, one should first learn qigong. In this way he can train internally, and is able to gain the essence of Taijiquan.

Qigong may be regarded as a quiescent art where there is movement in stillness. Taijiquan can be regarded as a mobile art, where there is stillness in movement. When a quiescent art and a mobile art are combined, a genuine art results. Only then this precious legacy with eye-dazzling, radiant light can be manifested.

Qigong Methods of Taijiquan

Firstly, when starting to practice Taijiquan qigong, use natural breathing. This is in line with the light, slow, circulate and rhythmic feature of Taijiquan.

(Editorial Note: When first learning Taijiquan, it is performed slowly so as to get the form correct and to generate energy flow. When these purposes have been attained, Taijiquan can be very forceful as a result of internal force developed in its training, and be very fast as a martial art.)

At the stage of learning Taijiquan patterns, practitioners can use natural breathing. When they have become familiar with the patterns, which have become low and firm, their natural breathing can be deeper and longer. As lower and firmer patterns demand more effort, their breathing must be slow and deep. If their breathing is short, they will become breathless.

Natural breathing is smooth breathing. When the practitioners have trained to the stage of understanding force, they can change to reverse breathing. Reverse breathing strengthens their diaphragm and harmonize their internal organs against diseases. Those who are weak can breathe out long, and breathe in short. This is due to abundance of yin.

(Editorial Note: “Abundance of yin” refers to conditions of strong structure, like strong internal organs. Illness occurs if their yang functions cannot cope with the strong yin structure, like indigestion or heart problems when their stomach and heart functions fail to harmonize with the strong structure of the stomach and the heart.)

Those who have “false illness” and “cold illness”, and those who are strong can breathe out short and breathe in long. This is due to yang abundance., which results in “solid illness” and “hot illness”.

(Editorial Note: “False illness” refers illness to where the cause of the illness is unknown. “False” here does not mean the illness is imaginary, or not real. Examples of false illness are diabetes, asthma and cancer. “Cold illness”, which is due to yang deficiency, refers to diseases where patients feel cold, or where the respective part of the body functions below requirement, like cold hands, anemia, and heart problems.)

(Editorial Note: “Solid illness” refers to diseases where the cause of the illness is obvious, like various types of bacterial and virus infection. “Hot illness” refers to when patients have a fever, like infectious diseases and over-function of particular organs.)

Through the movements of Taijiquan training, breathing is harmonized which enables yin-yang balance, resulting in overcoming diseases that are caused by excessive yin, excessive yang, deficient yin and deficient yang. Reverse breathing can regulate the proper length of breathing, thus contributing to yin-yang harmony.

Besides, the Small Universe and the Big Universe of qigong is similar to the concept of “whole body one family” of Taijiquan. When Taijiquan practitioners have reached the stage of understanding internal force, when they focus on training internal energy, they have to use reverse breathing to strengthen the circulation of original energy. The pathway of energy flow of the Big Universe in qigong is the same as the pathway of energy flow in “whole body one family” of Taijiquan. Without the art of Big Universe, it is not possible to achieve the concept of “whole body one family”.

(Editorial Note: This is the view of the author of this passage. While reverse breathing is a very effective breathing method, in some schools of Taijiquan, the Big Universe or “whole body one family” can be attained without using reverse breathing.)

In addition, the purpose of energy training in Taijiquan, after attaining the Small Universe and the Big Universe, is to enable energy to break-through the meridians of the whole body. The internal training of Taijiquan, and the concept of “whole body one family”, aim at yin-yang harmony. This is possible by breaking through the meridians.

Taijiquan and Meridians

According to the Inner Classic of Huang Ti, there are “jing mai” and “luo mai”, or meridians and collaterals, in a person. Meridians flow in a person. There are a few main meridians, like the main threads of some clothing. Collaterials are sub-meridians that branch out. A person’s energy and blood flow though these two types of pathway all over the body. They are generalized as the meridian system.

Although the meridian system has not been seen in modern surgery, it is an important part of the human body. Internally it flows through the five storage organs of the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys, and the six transformational organs of intestines, gall bladder, stomach, colon, urinary bladder and triple-warmer. Outwardly it connects the four limbs with tendons, muscles and skin.

(Editorial Note: In traditional Chinese medical philosophy, the triple-warmer is an important internal organ that contains other important organs. The triple-warmer consists of an upper-warmer from the throat to the solar plexus, a middle-warmer from the solar plexus to the navel, and a lower-warmer from the navel to the anus.)

The “Discussion of Meridians” in the Inner Classic mentions that “The meridian systems determines the life and death of a person. Against illness, harmonize empty and solid, the meridians must be clear.” These few words explain three important functions of the meridian system. In physiology, the meridian system circulates energy and blood. In pathology, it defends against and overcome illness. In preventing illness, it directs and leads information and emotion flow.

(Editorial Note: Many terms in traditional Chinese medical philosophy, like “empty” and “solid” here, are symbolic. “Empty illness” refers to diseases where the causes are not obvious. “Solid illness” refers to diseases where the causes are obvious.)

Circulating Energy and Blood

The meridian system circulates energy and blood, and harmonizes yin-yang.

(Editorial Note: “Yin” and “yang” are symbolic terms. Here, yin refers to all natural systems in the body, and yang refers to all factors, inside and outside the body, that can cause illness. For example, the self-defence system is represented as yin, and harmful viruses are represented as yang. At any time there are millions of harmful viruses in the body, but the self-defence system can neutralize them so that the person is not sick. This is described as yin-yang harmony.)

A person’s respiration and blood circulation depend on his lungs and heart. But his “energy and blood”, which means his original energy, depends on his meridian system for circulation. “Energy and blood” here does not just mean the air and the liquid blood, but it maintains a person’s balance, inside and outside, top and bottom. It harmonizes the two types of yin energy and yang energy in the body.

Wherever there is blockage in the meridian system, illness will occur there. When the blockage is cleared, the illness will be eliminated. The therapeutic methods to clear the blockage can be herbalism, acupuncture, massage, qigong, etc. This is the evidence of a function of meridians. This twofold function of the meridian system – circulation of energy and blood, and harmony of yin and yang – is mutually dependent and mutually accomplished.

Overcoming Illness

The meridian system responds to illness and defend against it.

When the energy flow is blocked in meridians, the respective part becomes red, swollen, hot and painful. This is regarded as “solid illness” in traditional Chinese medical philosophy.

When energy and blood is insufficient, the relevant part becomes numb and not responsive, its functions are minimized, and the skin and muscles may contract. These are symptoms of “empty illness”. For example, the sides of the spine may be oppressed and painful. This is a symptom that a related internal organ is responding to an illness.

Such a response may occur in a minute collateral. As the collaterals are spread all over the body, they react to any illness, like regulating the body temperature, increasing or reducing sweat production, nourishing the muscles, and strengthening the skin.

Directing Information and Emotion Response

Acupuncture, massage and qigong can cure illness because the meridian system can direct and lead information and emotion flow, as well as harmonize yin-yang. Feeling of “arresting qi”, or energy response, during acupuncture is a form of directing information and emotional flow along the meridians. This function of the meridian system can be used to harmonize energy or clear energy blockage, restore righteousness and eliminate evil, to enable the illness oven to regain normal functioning.

(Editorial Note: “Restore righteousness and eliminate evil” is a traditional Chinese medical term meaning restoring the normal functions of a person, and eliminating disease causing agents. Illness oven is the site or source of the illness.)

When meridians are stimulated, if there is too much energy, some energy will be drained off; if there is insufficient energy, some energy will be added. Progressing diseases will be controlled, retreating illness will be stimulated. This is harmonizing empty and solid.

(Editorial Note: “Progressing illness” refers to diseases that result from over-functioning of the body. The diseases are regarded as “solid”. The over-functioning will be reduced. “Retreating illness” refers to diseases that result form under-functioning of the body. The diseases are regarded as “empty”. The respective organs will be activated to increase their functioning.)

The Similarities and Differences between Taijiquan and Qigong

The functions of qigong and the functions of Taijiquan, from the perspective of the meridian system, are similar. But there are differences between the two arts.

Comparing Taijiquan and qigong, it is easier to master Taijiquan, easier to enter the gate.

(Editorial Note: “To enter the gate” means to learn the art.)

This is because Taijiquan employs movements to train energy. This is to understand the transformation of yin-yang through actions. But qigong starts with silence. Silence is the crucial point. This is to understand the transformation of yin-yang through internal training. This is harder to comprehend.

Regarding Taijiquan as an mobile art, and qigong as a quiescent art, they can mutually supplement each other and help each other to progress. The results are much better. Hence, when one trains Taijiquan, he should also train qigong.

If your body is weak or if you are sick, especially chronic illness, the best is to first train qigong, like Cosmos Stance. When you have recovered from your sickness, and your limbs are ready for exercise, learn Taijiquan, and you will not feel your strength does not follow your heart.

If you are very healthy, or have practiced Taijiquan before, you can first practice Taijiquan patterns. When you have reached the stage of understanding internal force, you can also learn qigong and you will find your results better.



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