Classics?

At long last a student decided to ask what are the Tai Chi Classics?

My short answer – writings on the principles.

So she asked for example and I said “elbows down”, “head up” and directed her to look for translation of the Classics online.

For the serious student of Tai Chi reading the Classics is a must. You might not understand what it is about the first time but then this is not unusual. However, if you keep up your practice and your reading in time to come you will begin to understand what the Classics is about.

For example, this extract translated by Lee Scheele is supposedly written by Zhang Sanfeng :-

The feet, legs, and waist should act together
as an integrated whole,
so that while advancing or withdrawing
one can grasp the opportunity of favorable timing
and advantageous position.

If correct timing and position are not achieved,
the body will become disordered
and will not move as an integrated whole;
the correction for this defect
must be sought in the legs and waist.

The principle of adjusting the legs and waist
applies for moving in all directions;
upward or downward,
advancing or withdrawing,
left or right.

There does not seem to be anything special about what is written above. Most of us like to think we have achieved it somewhat. For those of us who is still seeking the way how does reading the Classics help?

Below is something for thought :-

Verse
The feet, legs, and waist should act together
as an integrated whole,
so that while advancing or withdrawing
one can grasp the opportunity of favorable timing
and advantageous position.

Commentary
So what does being integrated whole means? How does one achieve it? In TaijiKinesis one of the purpose of doing the 5-Count is to achieve this at the rudimentary level.

Being integrated whole must also be achieved while moving not only by yourself but during application. For example when doing push hands whereby you must maintain being an integrated whole.

This is important as it enables you to control your timing as you move into an advantageous position when the timing avails itself. For situations whereby the opportunity does not arise then you create the opportunity using the advantage of being integrated whole.

Verse
If correct timing and position are not achieved,
the body will become disordered
and will not move as an integrated whole;
the correction for this defect
must be sought in the legs and waist.

Commentary
What do we mean by correct timing and position? How can we achieve it by being an integrated whole? How does the legs and waist give rise to this defect? How do we correct it?

The wonderful thing about the 5-Count is that it can answer the above questions for us once our training bears fruit.

Verse
The principle of adjusting the legs and waist
applies for moving in all directions;
upward or downward,
advancing or withdrawing,
left or right.

Commentary
To achieve the ability to adjust the legs and waist whilst on the move is a learning function of the form. This is why the form is long because there are many lessons to be taught.

The Tai Chi Classics can be a challenging read. To make it simpler for my own students I have written my version of the principles by gathering the key principles that they should know to get a leg through the gate of mastery. This can be found on page 100 in TaijiKinesis Vol 1 under Appendix B : Classics Redefined.

For example Verse 5.4 is about the 3-Count and 5-Count and how its use can enable one to use intention to lead the body thus achieving the principle of integrated whole. So there you go Master Tai Chi Today is not that difficult once you know how to go about learning it.

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Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Tai Chi Yang Style (TaijiKinesis) lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today

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