Tai Chi Chuan (or Taijiquan) at Hare-Yama Ryu
As part of our activities at Hare-Yama Ryu, especially the study of Goju Ryu Karate-do, we study the Yang form of Tai Chi Chuan. The name Tai Chi Chuan is usually loosely translated simply as the supreme ultimate fighting form. Unfortunately, this simple translation of the name does no justice to the much deeper meaning of Tai Chi Chuan (or simply Tai Chi) that will emerge through diligent study of its many facets.
Our approach is to cover all aspects of Tai Chi, starting at its value as an overall exercise form, right through to its application as a self-defence system, and eventually to its use as a means of developing one's inner strength.
The study of the Tai Chi form is an excellent way to improve one's mind-body co-ordination, concentration, physical fitness, and in fact, all one's other facilities, many of which are dormant or are being suppressed. The key to Tai Chi is relaxation of mind and body so that one's suppressed inner strength and wisdom can become available to support one whenever necessary. Through relaxation one begins to understand the concept of inner strength and innate knowledge. One thus learns to act in complete harmony with one's inner spirit (shen).
We also incorporate a variety of Chi Kung (or Qigong) exercises aimed at exploring chi (Japanese - ki), one's life energy, its circulation through the body, and its use in everything from the simplest activities of one's daily life, to the martial arts and even self-healing.
Tai-Chi - What is it?
To understand the essence of Tai Chi study, it is firstly necessary to understand the difference between muscle (li) energy, and one's innate energy (chi). While it is easy for the uninitiated to image using muscle energy to do something like pushing someone away, it is a lot more difficult to image using one's internal chi to achieve the same (or better) result.
With Tai Chi practice, one learns to remove the internal blocks that restrict one's abilities to absorb, generate, compress and release internal energy, chi.
This is done primarily through learning a set of movements referred to as a Form (the Yang Form in our case). The Form is a sequence of defensive and counterattack movements against an imaginary opponent. The movements are usually performed very slowly so as to allow the mind (yi) to learn how to direct chi, and also how to accurately control the body's movement. Each movement is defined joint by joint, so that the mind can focus on each joint and direct the internal energy exactly to where it is required. By doing the movements slowly, one can focus on relaxation so as to remove the physical tensions within one's body that impede the flow of chi.
As one progresses, one learns to depend less upon li and more on chi (directed by yi) to do the form.
Snake creeps down
What are the benefits of Tai Chi training?
In the process of the diligent study of Tai Chi one will be:
Learning to use one's body much more effectively and fully
Developing better posture, centring and rooting
Participating in an exceptional form of physical exercise
Learning a valuable self-defence (and self preservation) system
Giving every part and organ of the body, a thorough physical and energy massage
Reducing tension and stress through relaxation exercises
Learning (perhaps for the first time ever) how to breathe correctly
Improving general health and resistance to illness
Increasing awareness of all things that influence one's life and the things one influences in turn
Learning how to deal constructively with change, conflict, success, etc, … all the Yin and Yang of life
……… the list can go on and on ……
So while some students will be happy to simply benefit from the physical exercise related to performing the Tai Chi form, others will wish to proceed to a more in-depth study of Tai Chi and slowly build up a valuable set of physical and mental skills that will benefit every aspect of life.
The Philosophies of Tai-Chi
One can fill volumes on the philosophical concepts of Tai Chi relating both to the development, the practice and the application of Tai Chi Chuan. Indeed, the Tai Chi Classics, some of which date back over a thousand years, express countless concepts and ideals which underline the practice of Tai Chi. It would not be presumptuous to say that while these Classics are filled with great wisdoms that accelerate students along the path of their studies, the insights contained therein are no more than a sincere, thinking student could discover for him or herself through many years of diligent training. After all, the study of Tai Chi is aimed simply at the awakening of one's inner strength, wisdom and understanding.
At Hare-Yama Ryu we say
Study Tai-Chi to un(b)lock your full potential
The philosophical concepts that drive Tai-Chi training may be a bit strange to our Western-thinking minds. Some of them are:
Tai Chi originated as a Chinese martial art with a strong philosophical basis anchored in Taoism. This philosophy recognises two undeniable aspects of Nature, change and the existence of the ever present but opposing aspects of Yin and Yang. Through a practice of physical defence and counterattack, Tai Chi teaches one about the inevitability of change, and also the existence of and the need for one to accept those things which are opposite to one's own likes and perceptions of harmony. This leads to a deeper understanding of change, and allows one to use this understanding to deal with change in all its phases.
Tai Chi practice is often reported to be a sort of magic potion that brings harmony and health into one's life and washes away the stress and tension of modern-day life. Learning the sequence of moves in the Tai Chi forms and performing these slowly may bring physical relaxation after a day of stress, but unless one uses the deeper lessons of Tai Chi to understand the cycles of life and Nature, and accept the changing circumstances that these cycles will confront one with, one will never achieve true harmony nor will one develop all the skills necessary to benefit from each situation one will be required to deal with in life.
Yin and Yang
The concept of Yin and Yang can be made to seem easy and logical if explained by way of a few simple examples. Yet in the study of Chinese martial arts and health systems such as Tai Chi, the real complexity and interactivity of Yin and Yang only becomes clear after much practice.
The philosophies of Yin and Yang lie at the core of understanding Tai Chi and its related practices such as Chi Kung. It therefore is essential for students of Tai Chi to have a good grasp of Yin and Yang, and as importantly, the interaction between these two opposites.
Black is Black and White is White ….?
In an attempt to make sense of the complexities of man's existence, Western thought tends to divide everything into good and bad, positive and negative. We even use words that imply that the world will be a better place without those "bad" aspects. But "bad", as defined by who?
On the other hand, Oriental philosophies regard the existence of all opposites as a natural condition that gives wholeness to everything. Further, Yin and Yang are not absolute or fixed, but are in a constant state of change. Yin contains the seed of Yang and Yang contains the seed of Yin. What is Yin will become Yang and what is Yang will become Yin. These cycles of nature exist everywhere and it is in understanding both the inevitability and the necessity of these changes that one comes to start grasping the relevance of Yin and Yang to one's life, and also in all else in the Universe.
The Tai-Chi Training Tools
The Tai-Chi (Solo) Form
We have already mentioned the Tai Chi Form that remains the main training tool. However, the level of understanding and performance of this form will be enhanced by the practice of supplementary exercises.
Specific Physical Exercises
Stretching and loosening up exercises are an essential part of Tai Chi training and while they obviously equip one better to perform the physical side of the Form, they also allow one to achieve greater relaxation and better flow of chi.
Push hands is a generic name for all exercises done together with a partner (or sometimes a piece of training apparatus). There are many push hands forms and they are very varied. Some are simple circular repetitions of parts of movements of the form. Others are an enactment of parts of or the entire form with a real partner (opponenolved in defence and counterattack - and all interactions.t). Apart from ensuring that one's mental interpretation of the form is correct, these exercises also allow one to practice the energy exchange inv
Chi-Kung (also written as Qigong)
In Chi Kung exercises, one focuses one's study on chi, and the all important breathing techniques associated with the circular nature of Tai Chi. Chi Kung training is somewhat more esoteric than Tai Chi, but its practise enables one to consequently inject a much greater depth of understanding into the Form.
The more difficult to understand and far more complex training of jing comes with much advancement and relates to the directing of chi into jing to "get the job done". Jing training in the martial arts sense is relatively easy to imagine, but non-martial arts applications of jing are more abstract and must surely be one of the most important ultimate aims of Tai Chi training in our modern-day lifestyles.
Golden cock stands on one leg Draw the bow Turn and strike with heel
The Hare-Yama Ryu
invites anyone interested in Tai Chi training,
to visit our dojo or train with us for two weeks with no obligation,
so as to discover the value of this complete and challenging art.
Visit some other websites
for more interesting Oriental and related subjects
Last updated 2014-08-27 14:36