Monday, September 28, 2009

The Three Situations of “Double Weighted” in Tai Chi

Double Weighted is a mistake in Tai Chi and Tai Chi Push hands. Double Weighted can be explained in many ways. They all involves in empty and solid. From my point of view, it can be conclude into three situations:

1. During Push Hands, When person B pushes against person A, person A also tries to push against person B. This is a good example of being Double Weighted. When person A pulls back while person B pulls back, this is also called Double Weighted. In these cases, Double Weighted causes pause of the movements.

2. You try to have a foot movement in Tai Chi. You don’t transfer weight from one leg to the another and you lift the other leg while it still has weight on it, this is also called double Weighted. In this case, Double Weighted was caused by lifting weights and the use of force.

3. When you try to unbalance someone while doing push hands, you try to use your right arm push him to the left. At the same time, you tried to use your left arm to push him to the right. You are against yourself and make your opponent balanced. In this case, making the opponent balanced caused the double weight.

When the above three situations happen to you, you’ll know you are Double Weighted. To avoid being double weighted, you need to know how to transfer from Empty to Solid and vise Versa. During push hands, you also need to understand how to listen to energy and determining if it’s a solid energy or empty one. Without Double Weighted, your Tai Chi will flow smoothly like a continuous long running river.

Copyrighted By Huan's Tai Chi '09

Monday, September 21, 2009

4 Forms of Relaxation

Many people talk about ways of relaxation, the simplest and most direct ones I have read is Chen Style Tai Chi Master, Ma Hong’s 4 Forms of Relaxation. Ma mentioned, “ Totally Relaxation includes Quiet Relaxation, Open Relaxation, Sink Relaxation and Flexible Relaxation.”

1. Quiet Relaxation mainly means quieting your mind. Before we start to perform the Tai Chi set in my class, I always allow myself and students to just stand on the Preparing form for while, it gives us time to quiet our minds. When your mind can quiet, then you can concentrate and not put any stress on your Tai Chi.

2. Open Relaxation means to open the joints and sections of your body ( see my blog article on 8 sections and 9 joints) When the joints are open, then the Qi (energy) can passing through your body as you wish.

3. Sink Relaxation is used in all the movements. For example, your elbows sink down/ drop down, shoulders sink down, knees sink down/bend and feet sink down to the ground allows you to relax more.

4. Flexible Relaxation extends to three areas. For Example: If your arm can stretch further, you will have more room to move your arms, or you become more flexible with your arm joints. This Arm Flexible Relaxation includes area one, flexibility between arms joints, area two, the maximum length to stretch the arm ligament, and area three, arm’s muscles’ bouncing flexibility .

Master the 4 forms of relaxation will help you totally relaxed while doing the Tai Chi form.

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi '09

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wisdom from the Oil Salesman

Ouyang Xiu (歐陽修) was a Chinese statesman, historian, essayist and poet of the Song Dynasty. I have read many of his literature. When Ouyang was a little kid, his family was very poor. He couldn’t afford school supply. He used tree branch as a pen to write on the sand. I have read many his literature a long time ago but I still have memory of his work on “Regarding the Pavilion of The Old Drunkard” and “Old Oil Salesman”.

Kang Su Gong was the most famous archer in Northern Song Dynasty. He was practicing shooting in his front yard one day. Many people went watching him. There was an Old cooking oil salesman had two buckets of oil with him. He left two buckets of oil on ground, taking a rest and watching Kang Su Gong. Kang Su Gong has missed only one shot out of ten. Every one started to cheer, but the salesman only nodded his head.

Kang Su Gong saw that, not very pleased.
“ Do you know archery? How do you think my skill?”
“Not very special, just because you have done it for a while” Salesman said.
Kang Su Gong become very angry, “How can you put me down like this?”
Salesman said, “I can show you by pouring my oil.”

He placed a calabash on the ground, then placed a small Tong Qian(Traditional Chinese money with a square hole in the middle) on top of the mouth of the calabash. He took a big spoon and scooped some oil out from the buckets. He then poured the oil into the calabash. You can see the oil formed a long string and went into the calabash through the small hole of the Tong Qian. He was very steady, so you couldn’t see any oil left on the Tong Qian.
After the salesman has done this, he said, “It’s not a big deal I did this, I have done that easily just because I have practiced a lot.” Kang Su Gong smiled and politely sent him away.

We are not only learned that practice make you good from this story, but also found that being humble can prepare you better from learning new skill, because there are always some oil salesmen around whom has unique techniques to show you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Relax your body, Understand 8 Sections and 9 Joints

Many people want to get relaxed, but they can only relax part of their body. When they relax their hands, their shoulders might be tight. When they relax their shoulders, their waist might be tight.

In Tai Chi, you need your whole body to be relaxed. In order to relax, we need to understand Ba Duan Jiu Jie, translates to English as 8 Sections and 9 joints.

What are the 8 Sections of your body?
They are
1. Shins
2. Thighs
3. Waist
4. Back
5. Shoulders
6. Upper Arms
7. Lower Arms
8. Fingers
What are the 9 Joints of your body?
They are
1. Ankles
2. Wrists
3. Knees
4. Hips
5. Waist Joint
6. Neck
7. Shoulder joints
8. Elbows
9. Finger joints

We say, when you relax your shoulders, your energy goes to the elbows. When you sink your elbows, your energy goes to the hands. When you empty your hands, your energy will reach the finger tips. Only when all 8 sections and 9 joints are relaxed, then your energy can go any place you wish. When your energy is under your control, then we can say your body is totally relaxed in Tai Chi.

- To see a more detailed explanation of the 8 Sections and 9 Joints, you can find my article on Fall 2011 issue of Tai Chi Magazine, It's titled Huan Zhang: Secret of How to relax: Understanding the 8 Sections, 9 Joints

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi '09

Friday, September 4, 2009

Perfection for Tai Chi Practitioners and Rest of Us

This article is for people want learn every thing fast with no patience or people don’t spend much time to practice and wish one day miracle can come and they become very good on some thing.

At first, I want say, there is no perfection in Tai Chi and our life, but it doesn’t mean we should not look for it. Why we still look for perfection which does not exist? The unique status of closer to the perfection is better than the rest, it differs you from other people. When we were in college, we often study for finals. We always want over prepare rather than just remember enough. When you study hard and aiming 100 for you test score, you might get a 90. When you aim to get 120, it’s possible you can get a 100. Since Tai Chi is also a martial arts set, perfection is important. When people need martial arts to protect themselves in war thousands year ago, its life and death which means you have to be better than your opponent. That’s why people have practiced so hard in the past and many famous martial arts masters appeared in the past.

When new student came to class and did three times of a move and can’t get it, they thought it’s too difficult. I mentioned to them, “When I tried to get a perfect elbow strike when I was first learning martial arts, I couldn’t get right. My father, who is also my teacher asked me to do this move 300 times. After I tried more than 200 times in different ways, I know which way is better. After I almost done 300 times, I believe I found the feeling the way that father was talking about. After I showed my father the best way I found, he said “oh, this is very good, but it’s not exactly what I taught you. You can keep it for you routine; however, I still want you to learn my way, so you can have both. This is how it works.( showing me) Now, do another 300 times on both sides ( right and left) and get it right.”

What I believe is the quality not quantity. For example, a restaurant offers 100 dishes, which all tastes very good. Another restaurant only offers 10 dishes, but they are all exceptional. Which restaurant will be more appreciated by people? My suggestion is learn only one or two movements a time and learn them again later. When you have a teacher who can give details for just one movement for just one class, you know he is exceptional! Whatever we do and learn in our life, such as making a business plan, prepare a date, paint your house, please take your time. Only carefully learning and doing everything in detail, then you can be closer to perfection. Our new beginner class will start coming thursday. I hope our new students will take this advise.

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi '09