Continuing with the review on 2.3 Qi.
The author wrote that “The first element of mind approach in practicing taijiquan is qi.” I find this very strange. Shouldn’t the first element to using the mind be intention? We always say “no Yi, no Qi” but never “no Qi, no Yi“. I feel that the author has not explained Qi properly. Instead, he quoted ancient writers to try to get the explanation across. It kinda reminds me about trying to explain to a layman about a Turing machine.
I like to read history in high school and the Second World War was a favorite topic. No narrative of how the Allies won the war would be complete without understanding the role of Ultra. Recently, what Ultra was has been given a boost by the movie The Imitation Game.
If you had seen the movie you would know who Alan Turing was if you hadn’t by now. The code breaking machine that Turing designed is referred to as a Turing machine. If you want to read all about it in-depth you can go to this link for an explanation.
Or if all that technical explanation turned you off but you still want to know what a Turing machine is you can accept a simplified broad-based explanation at the end of The Imitation Game in which it is stated that today we would refer to a Turing machine as a computer. P.S. – you should know that a modern PC does not work like a Turing machine but read this much simpler explanation here and you can understand why its not wrong to say that a Turing machine is a computer.
Though I find ancient explanations of Qi fascinating I have doubts that it can help today’s practitioners to truly understand what it is about. Consider this part from page 93 “…how can nihility becomes being? It can by using, distributing, and generating qi, and using qi to give birth to things, it becomes heaven and earh; thus qi is the origin of being.” How is this useful to a learner who is already having a hard time trying to grasp biomechanics much less such high-faluting concepts that does not seem to have anything to do with actual practice?
If you are confused by the terms used don’t be. Nihility simply means nothingness or non-being. It is basically a rephrasing of the oft-heard refrain of Wuji becoming Tai Chi. But when you think about it the proposed answer doesn’t satisfactorily explain the question. Consider how does non-being become a being or how does Wuji becomes Tai Chi. The answer the author gives is to use Qi but he forgot to mention how Qi came about.
In the transmission that comes through our side the missing link is simply Yi (Intention). How does Wuji becomes Tai Chi? Use Yi. With Yi the flow of Qi will occur and with it the rest such as Heaven and Earth unification with Man will happen. So we say Yi is the originator of Tai Chi rather than Qi. The most important part of what I am getting at here can be proven easily. Just do an informal survey and see how many practitioners who claim to have attained Qi can use their Qi-generated skill to use Yi to fajing.
Want to hear something funny, when I read further down on page 94 after the earlier part about Qi then the author used the Tai Chi Classics to mention that the intent is used to trigger the Qi. Does he know that what he wrote earlier contradicted what is mentioned here in the section on Intent-Qi-Form?
If I move on to page 95 there is a section entitled Intent Arrives, Qi Arrives which is basically what I mentioned above about the Yi leading the Qi. Again, the author rather than clarifies merely confuses by asking how inner qi is formed and replying that the answer is “intent arrives, qi arrives.” He is missing the point that when you have Yi then Qi will move; both these added together is what we refer to as Inner Qi.
The author wrote that at the beginning you can feel the intent arrives but not the qi. From my practice and teaching experience this is wrong. It is very easy for a total beginner to feel his Qi as in making the palm warm even on the first day of learning. But a beginner will have a problem getting his intent out to where it should go. In fact, most of the time when a beginner thinks he has intent he doesn’t really, not in the Tai Chi sense anyway otherwise he would have no problem doing fajing.
To Master Tai Chi Today particularly the use of Yi and achieve Inner Qi we must understand the true relationship of the three keywords of Shen, Yi and Qi. Otherwise, you can be training Tai Chi your whole life but never get it. The fact that masters in the past can master Tai Chi means we can master it too. Just don’t get confused and misled by half-baked writings of people who think they know the subject but their writings are indicative of someone still trying to feel the way and at times seem to be chasing their own tail.
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