Begin with Nothing

Do you know how Tai Chi is configured?

If you know the answer then good for you.

If not, then how do you approach the learning of your specific style of Tai Chi?

For example, our Tai Chi is configured to be like a sphere. It is as simple as that at the basic level of understanding.

Of course, we then go on to explain that in motion a sphere can rotate. It can also give way and flex when you press right at the center part of the sphere.

In fact, if the internal pressure of the sphere is strong enough a sudden push from you to the center can cause it to rebound back at you.

Does the above sound familiar to you?

If not, then you don’t know your Tai Chi theory and principles well enough and should go read the Tai Chi Classics.

If you do, then you would know what the above means and how it applies to your practice and application of the techniques of Tai Chi (I am trying to avoid mentioning fajing here).

Knowing the above, what does it mean for our practice of Tai Chi?

How do we go about being a sphere?

I mean talk of theory is one thing but how do you walk the talk?

Or is theory really all talk and has no bearing on our practice?

How do we jump into being a sphere? How does the notion of Wuji (無極) to Taiji (太極) comes in?

To me a good understanding of this helps me to practice Tai Chi in a much more precise and concise manner. It helps me to avoid the problem of waving hands here, there and all over the place without purpose (or limited purpose) and with a huge disconnect between practice and application.

From nothing to something. How do we get to nothing or are we already at nothing? How do we jump into something?

I have a simple way of looking at this. When you stand still right at the beginning of your form, you have nothing but not in a state of nothing. You have nothing in the sense that you do not have the principles of Tai Chi in you in that you are unable to manifest them much less have them as part of the natural you.

So you have to begin by finding the way to nothing, an empty vessel, before your can fill it with intent, to become something. This is the part of the form that I stress to students that they must practice but 99% of students never do. In this way they missed out on the most basic building block of the sphere.

Therefore, learn to be still at the beginning of the form (no, we are not doing zhanzhuang here) and use your mind to setup the structure inside your body. If you don’t have this first thing then the rest will not follow naturally. It is quite easy to spot those students who did not practice this very first part enough because their control of balance will be imprecise.

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