At the beginning of your taijiquan journey for which over the many weeks, months and years that you regularly practice each individual should with correct guidance begin to transform their taijiquan form work to a much deep and proficient level. One such particular level is the usage of the six external harmony principle for which all internal martial arts like taijiquan use to generate a great sense of internal strength through their physical actions. One aspect of the six harmonys that I believe in concentrating on during my taijiquan form practice is the combination of the shoulders (Jian) and Hips (Kua) working together. The hips are the biggest joint within our bodies and like the shoulders connect to our spinal column and if we concentrate on the opening (Kai) and closing (He) of the hip joints they then act like a big pump that drives the bodily fluids like the lymphatic, blood, synovial and spinal fluids,plus our energy (Qi) strongly through our legs and torso. Whereas, the shoulder joints connects to the spine and upper extremities and like the hips act like pumps to circulate the blood, synovial, lymphatic fluids and Qi into our arms, hands and fingers.
Concentrating on connecting the movements of the shoulders and hips together in the practice of your taijiquan form practice will also greatly improve the flexibility of the muscles and tendons of these big joints, increasing the individuals range of motion and producing a great amount of internal power into your taijiquan movements. As I have already mentioned above both the shoulders and hips connect to the spinal column and the direction of energy as it is told to us in the taijiquan classics “starts in the feet, passes through the legs into the hips, spine/torso and then passes through the shoulders and is expressed out through the palms and fingers”. It is through regular practice and the refining of the movements of your taijiquan form that your whole body moves precisely in a well timed and skilful way that produces an hidden power that can only be felt and not seen.
Through the working of the hips and shoulders moving together in harmony will produce a gentle wave like movement through the spinal column. This gentle wave like ripple of the spinal column helps to keep the spine supple and pliable releasing stiffness and tension from the spine and back muscles greatly benefitting those who suffer with back trouble. But it is through this gentle rippling and wave like action of the spinal column that also produces a great amount of power that is emitted out through the hands and fingers. Another of the taijiquan classics also says “that the outside actions should also connect and move the inside” so that the whole body is fully connected, involved and ultilised throughout every action that we take.
No matter what style of taijiquan form or qigong form that you study and practice each individual must maintain their discipline to remain accurate to the their particular taijiquan or qigong form style. Obviously this can only happen as long as the student regularly practices, that is why teachers always encourage their students to practice, practice, practice. As this is the only way that each individual can maintain a disciplined and accurate form. Sadly I often see many individuals simply turn up to either a taijiquan or qigong class and no actually be there in the room, what I mean by this is that their mind is elsewhere, thinking of what they were doing before they attended the class and what they plan to do after the class. They are not concentrating on the present and are simply following the actions of the person infront of themselves not aware of the mistakes that they are making in their taijiquan or qigong for practice.
To maintain the discipline of remaining accurate to either your taijiquan or qigong forms means that the individual must fully concentrate on the accuracy of their physical movements. Again many individuals due to lack of self practice get frustrated with the teacher because they don’t seem to be progressing more further in their taijiquan or qigong then what they would like to. But a good teacher will advocate that it is the quality of taijiquan or qigong form practice that is more important than just simply running through the forms without any awareness of correct speed, timing, precision, accuracy and even balancing. It is quite easy for lazy individuals to attain a poor standard of taijiquan or qigong form practice and think that they are very good, until they meet a teacher or group of individuals who are serious about there taijiquan or qigong practice and strive to reach a high level of practice. These lazy individuals then realise that the practice of taijiquan or qigong is much more demanding within its practice if you want it to become a powerful tool towards maintaining or improving your own health and wellbeing.
For individuals to have a low level of discipline in their practice of taijiquan or qigong form, is either they are not taught correctly by a teacher who is a serious practitioner, or it is the individual themselves who lack concentration to remain accurate and disciplined to their taijiquan or qigong actions. Even in my own classes Ihave seen certain individuals just simply follow the movements of the person infront of themselves not caring if the movements are wrong, they just go into a day dream kind of state, for which I call “the lights are on, but know one is at home” syndrome. Meaning physically the individuals is in the class, but mentally they are elsewhere. This is really a poor level of taijiquan or qigong practice and sadly I see more and more individuals struggle with this lack of concentration. Could it be that because they think that the movements and actions of taijiquan or qigong are slow, that the over-al exercise is easy to learn and hence they don’t need to make a big effort to learn it.
I have lost the amount of times that individuals turn up to one of my taijiquan or qigong classes expecting to day dream easily through my class. To suddenly realise that they need to concentrate on their timing, accuracy and of cause maintain their balance to also remember the movements that they then either give up and stop coming or simply walk out of the class because suddenly moving slowly is more difficult than they expected to be.and that’s why the Chinese call the practice of taijiquan as the “Supreme Ultimate”.