Thursday, April 14, 2011

Learning the taiji classics

The motion should be rooted in the feet,
released through the legs,
controlled by the waist,
and manifested through the fingers. ...

If the timing and position are not correct,
the body becomes disordered,
and the defect must be sought
in the legs and waist.

Chang San-Feng (Lo/Inn/Amacker/Foe tr.)

The taiji classics are a very simple collection of sayings containing the essence of the taijiquan system. Simple on the surface! I have to admit when I first read them, having heard about them (often spoken in hushed tones, with reverence) I was disappointed. Where was the depth? "Step forward, step backward, look left, look right." Hmmm. All a bit too simple. Coming to the classics having just read Scottish philosopher David Hume, well ... if you have ever read (or tried to read) David Hume you will get the picture.
The fault was all on my part not the classics.
The classics are a different kind of writing. It is not about learning with your head. It is learning with your whole being, body, mind and spirit. Recently, I had a "whole being rvelation." It is contained in the simple phrase "controlled by the waist." I had read this many times in different books on taiji. I had heard my teacher master Jesse say it often. I did not "know it." Then all of a sudden, it clicked. My taiji took a major leap forward.
On a physiological level, the dantien is located a couple of inches below the belly button and an inch or two inside the body. The "waist" is shorthand for the dantien. Here is the center.
In meditation I have been used to placing intent on the dantien, but it had not translated into my moving forms.This week it did! The quote at the start of this blog became a whole body reality.
It makes sense on a spiritual/existential level too. A life lived from the center is a life well balanced. When life is out of balance, resort needs to be made to recover the center. A life lived from the center is a well-lived life.

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