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The Guang P'ing T’ai Chi Page

Theories 3 – The Essential Idea



The ability of the body to spiral or coil and uncoil is accomplished by the correct use of the waist and spine.  The legs are the root of the spiraling action and are the foundation of the essential twisting motion of the waist and spine.  Without implementing this basic aspect of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, the concept of the weak beats the strong    the slow beats the fast can not be realized in practice.  The nature of T'ai Chi Ch'uan as a martial art is that its defensive and offensive tactics are close in.  It means you want to be very close to the opponent for two reasons; first is that most people cannot function close in because they must cock their arms back to strike and second is that to measure the opponent with your torso means that he must be very close.  Many strikes from the T'ai Chi Ch'uan perspective are not so much a punch as a strike against the center of gravity of the opponent.  It is not a section of the body that strikes but is the entire body that executes the strike.  The power always comes from the coordinated twisting of the waist and spine.  This is the idea of the scale.  The scale measures and it also strikes.  The hands and arms are like the plates of the scale that can measure the opponent’s center of gravity. 


The wheel and the axle turn together not separately just like a vehicle would.  It can also be visualized that the arms and legs form the wheel and the waist as the axle.  Both perspectives would have the same result.  This is what allows one to spiral and revolve.  It is also the key point of Drawing of Silk .    When there is movement out or in, this spiraling movement is always present.  It is often subtle and not easy to see, but it must always be there.  The idea of the wheel and the axle must always be present in push hands .    I f the in and out movements entail leaning forward or back, it is not correct.  The spiral movement acts very much like a gyroscope that will throw any object out of its wheel because of the centrifugal force.  It is the chest that usually measures first.  The chest is touched and that side of the chest turns the wheel and the axle towards the side of impact.  The arm moves with the waist and spine and emits the proper degree of Peng Ching .  The opponents arm is allowed to just graze and pass by the chest and the Peng Ching of the arm prevents impact on the chest.  Now the opponent’s energy is still moving past the chest.  You stand on firm ground yet he is in motion and this basic position creates the opportunity for attack.  This is why it is not necessary to step back or wildly avoid the incoming strike.  This is the sensitivity of measuring the opponent.

This is what is called neutralizing energy  ..    So there is no leaning back in order to avoid impact, instead there is a redirecting of the opponents energy.  The other energies evolved in this simple motion are Peng Ching , Adhere energy , Stick energy , Empty energy , Receiving energy  , Twisting energy ,  Collecting energy  , and listening energy  , Closing . 

This is the basic posture of push hands and the first step to developing Awareness energy .  At

this stage, eight fundamental defects must be corrected.  They are;

1.      Muscle against muscle        

2.      Stiffness                                

3.      Getting rid of the opponent  

4.      Resisting                                

5.      Being intermittent                  

6.      Receiving energy straight     

7.      Leaning forward                    

8.      Leaning backward                



So the wheel and axle give solidity and strength to all movements.  The waist the wheel and the spine the axle.  If one is impacted as in the diagrams above and the body is leaning backward, it is easy to see that the axle cannot turn swiftly without losing balance.  This means that the axle is bent and of no use.  Examine the body when pushing hands or performing the set.  Is the back straight?  Can the axle turn comfortably?  Thus far we are only discussing the initial movement of push hands when the energy is first received.  The body moves like a screw, in and out whether in defensive and offensive positions.  So in this first movement, Peng  and Lu   the first two techniques of the eight gates  are utilized .  When the chronicle says: the top of the head should be as suspended from above  , it really means it.  This is a basic principle because the head affects the balance of the entire body.  The top of the head is the end of the axle.  The axle cannot turn swiftly and with great power if the head is hanging somewhere separated from the spine.  When the body is centered, it can handle impact from any direction.  This means that if the axle is straight and the head suspended that any touch on the body will cause it to spiral in order to send the force of the impact into emptiness.  If you lean to the side or back, the axle cannot turn smoothly and the result will be loss of balance.  So we know that the spine must be erect and the head suspended.  Do you apply this to the practice of the forms?  When you practice push hands, is the motion forward and backward or does the waist act like a hinge with the spine following the twisting motion of the waist?  This is the key point of the weak beats the strong and the slow beats the fast  .  It is very easy to say to oneself, sure I get that.  It’s easy to understand.  Yet to apply it to every movement of the T'ai Chi Ch'uan set requires a great deal of concentration.  Without integrating this idea into every movement, fighting applications are much more difficult to grasp. Then using the the Eight Methods and Five Steps  of T'ai Chi Ch'uan the following six points should be kept in mind:

1. Centrifugal force          Is T'ai Chi's vital element of motion

2. Receiving and returning        Is T'ai Chi's path of motion

3. Friction and flexibility            is Tai Chi's offense and defense, the preparation of active strength                                                                                                               

4. Deviation at the center of gravity             Is T'ai Chi's starting movement

5. Rolling, Collecting, and Releasing, Striking       Are T'ai Chi's

strategy and military tools

6. Centripetal force           Is T'ai Chi's striking power

So, what do these six points mean?

1. Centrifugal force is used to neutralize and enter the opponent.  It is like the gyroscope which draws  the opponent's energy towards the inside and away.  The Ch'i circulates from the arms down to the foot.

2. Receiving and returning is the Evade and Adhere of push hands.  Like a spring you receive and then return the energy.

3. Friction and flexibility is the revolving of the waist and spine while remaining connected to the opponent.

4. Deviation at the center of gravity is when the waist and spine revolve, the weight is on one foot so the body can revolve without hindrance.

5. Rolling, collecting, releasing, and striking are the components of attacking the opponent.

6. Centripetal force is the waist and spine revolving outward to strike.  The Ch'i circulates from the foot up to the arms. 


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