Mr. Li Jingwu’s Treasured “Tai Chi Secrets” Functional Song

- **Seek to Understand Energy through Lightness and Agility:** Yin and Yang harmonize without stagnation. - **If Four Ounces Can Move a Thousand Pounds, Master the Expansion and Contraction:** - Maintain Centering, Flexibility in the Hips, and Understanding of Opening and Closing to Achieve Lightness, Agility, Freedom of Movement, and Comfort. **Harmonizing Yin and Yang without Stagnation:** - Most people start from not understanding Yin and Yang to understanding their separation. I believe practicing Tai Chi aims to integrate Yin and Yang into one. In Tai Chi, Yin is Yang and Yang is Yin. Yin and Yang are abstract representations of opposing elements like force, movement, etc., representing direction, existence, emptiness, and solidity. Harmonizing Yin and Yang means combining neutralization and issuing force into one. For example, when a movement goes up, there’s a downward force simultaneously, like a spring that stretches has a contracting force, and when compressed, it has an expanding force. These forces coexist in one movement, allowing one to maintain centering. Understanding energy is the prerequisite for harmonizing Yin and Yang. **The Body's Main Strengths:** - The body’s main strengths come from two areas: the horizontal force of the hips and the vertical force of the spine. The intersection is the sacrum, connected by strong ligaments to the sacroiliac joint, which is difficult to relax. Most people are unaware of this area. Try using these joints when practicing Tai Chi. Only when these joints move can you achieve expansion and contraction. **Expansion and Contraction:** - Generally refers to paired body parts like shoulders, hips, and hands. Expansion and contraction also describe the Dantian, but not absolutely. The Dantian naturally expands and contracts with abdominal breathing. The limbs rotate and stretch relative to the Dantian and tailbone. This is called both expansion and contraction, with breathing and movement combined.

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Relaxtion in Yang Style Tai chi

In Tai Chi Chuan, relaxation (Song) is the most important and fundamental principle. It is the goal that every Tai Chi practitioner continually strives to achieve. This is because only through relaxation can one sink; through sinking, one can become soft; through softness, one can become light and agile; and through lightness and agility, one can achieve a state of emptiness and seamless flow, reaching the higher levels of Tai Chi Chuan. In the dynamic practice of Tai Chi forms, one must be completely relaxed and soft, with no tension in any part of the body. This is very difficult to achieve, even with a master’s guidance, and can only be gradually attained through long-term practice and refinement. Many principles are involved, and almost all Tai Chi principles are directly or indirectly related to relaxation. Any deviation from these principles affects the relaxation and softness of the form to varying degrees. However, this does not mean that relaxation has no inherent rules. This article discusses two methods to achieve self-balance in Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan, which is one aspect of finding relaxation during form practice. The primary goal in form practice is to achieve self-balance. If one’s posture is unstable during practice, muscle and joint contraction is required to restore balance, generating tension. Thus, mastering the methods to achieve self-balance during form practice is crucial for achieving relaxation. From a modern scientific perspective, the issue of self-balance in Tai Chi forms is essentially about effectively controlling the body's center of gravity. During practice, the center of gravity continually shifts between the feet and should always be controlled directly above the line connecting the feet (or directly above one foot for extreme cases), without deviation. If the center of gravity moves away from this line, it leads to instability and a tendency to topple. In the process of opening and closing movements, controlling the center of gravity is relatively easy, and instability is rare. However, during transitions, such as stepping in and out, it becomes more challenging. Using the two methods discussed in this article, one can effectively control the center of gravity, ensuring smooth transitions and achieving lightness and stability in practice.

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How to Tai CHi Cloud Hands

In the Tai Chi Chuan movements, the style of practicing Cloud Hands varies greatly. However, all Tai Chi schools refer to Cloud Hands as the "Mother Form," indicating its extraordinary position in the Tai Chi technical system. This article analyzes the typical issues of Cloud Hands to provide some useful insights for fellow practitioners.  1. The Name of Cloud Hands Regarding the origin of the name Cloud Hands, Mr. Hong Junsheng in his book "Practical Method of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan" suggests that the name "Cloud Hands" comes from its resemblance to clouds. Chinese paintings often depict clouds with spiral shapes to represent their rotation with the wind, and the alternating rotations of the hands in this move are similar to drawing clouds. Additionally, there are very graceful "Cloud Hands" combinations in classic dance movements, which may have inspired the naming of this circular movement in martial arts. Chen Xin once said: Martial arts techniques often use left and right sides, so various routines still retain the prototype of Cloud Hands. In "Illustrated Explanation of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan," Chen Xin refers to groups of Cloud Hands as "upper, middle, and lower," with slight variations in footwork and hand techniques. In the Cannon Fist form, "single Cloud Hands" appear multiple times. Clearly, Cloud Hands, as a basic technical form of Tai Chi, remains independently present even though it has been integrated into various boxing forms.  2. The Spirit of Cloud Hands In both civil and martial arts, the spirit is of utmost importance. Practitioners must maintain the Tai Chi spirit of neither resisting nor letting go. Guiding the entire body with the spirit and following the rules will lead to a state of "Tai Chi everywhere in the body." Since Cloud Hands is the "Mother Form" of Tai Chi, its spirit embodies the spirit of Tai Chi practice and application. Under normal circumstances, the focus of the spirit is divided into internal and external aspects. Internally, it is the random adjustment of internal force; externally, it is the timely observation with the eyes. "Following the principles of Yi (Change), conforming to the rules of boxing, and governing the entire body" is the true state of the spirit of Cloud Hands.

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Master Sun Lutang Secret Stretching moves

Master Sun Lutang was one of the top martial artists of modern times. His achievements in kung fu reached an incredible level. What we learn today is what he left behind: here, the stretching of tendons and bones is not a rigid stretch but a conscious extension, relaxing the joints. Each small movement should allow for five to seven breaths, meaning it should be done for a bit longer. Every move should be done slowly and patiently for better results than rushing through.  First Move 1. Stand with feet together, arms raised to the sides with palms down, stretching out as much as possible. Especially stretch with the shoulders slowly while deep breathing, stretching as far as possible. When you can't stretch anymore, relax but keep arms raised. Turn feet outward with toes pointing out until they are slightly wider than shoulder width. Legs should be slightly bent, not too low. 2. Raise both arms upwards with palms facing up towards the sky, forming an X shape with the body and arms. Bend backward with the head looking up towards the sky, then back. Stretch like yawning, extending as much as possible until you can't stretch anymore, then return to the standing position. Repeat several times. During all movements, sink qi to the dantian with abdominal breathing, tongue touching the upper palate, mouth closed, and teeth gently touching. Second Move 1. Start with the pole standing in the sand position. Rotate feet with toes and heels outward into an open stance, forming an outward eight shape. Knees slightly bent, hands raised in front of the lower abdomen with palms up, fists tightly clenched and pulled back to the sides of the waist, drawing the ribs tight with abdominal dantian breathing. Shoulders pulled back as much as possible until you can't endure it anymore, then relax. Hands change from fists to palms, palms upright, fingers pointing up, palms forward. 2. From the previous position, push both palms forward slowly from the waist, fingers spread out. Arms level with the shoulders. Then open both arms to the sides, stretching outwards with palms still facing outwards. Stretch as far as possible until you can't endure it anymore, then relax. Draw the ribs tight, sink qi to the dantian, abdominal breathing with the tongue touching the upper palate, mouth closed, and teeth gently touching. 3. Slowly lower the arms to the sides of the legs, turn palms up, clench fists again, and repeat the movement.

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How to Tai Chi Long Pole

Also known as Tai Chi Long Spear (a long staff with a spearhead), the staff is usually over three meters long, with a thick end (full grip) made of white wax wood. Tai Chi Long Staff has two types of practice: routine practice (called Thirteen Rods) and solo practice. Routine practice combines rod techniques such as adhering, coiling, twisting, brushing, bouncing, dragging, hanging, sweeping, thrusting, shaking, blocking, and lifting with corresponding footwork. Solo practice focuses on repeating the main single-move rod techniques to build endurance, increase internal strength, and enhance the coordination and explosive power of the crotch, waist, arms, and entire body.

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Tai CHi feet training

Although Tai Chi Chuan is named as "Chuan" (fist), in reality, it starts with the feet, training from the feet up. In this sense, Tai Chi Chuan can also be called Tai Chi foot. Therefore, the ancients proposed the concept of "its root is in the feet." This concept, both in theory and practice, developed the martial art of Tai Chi Chuan. Who proposed this idea? Initially, I saw materials suggesting it was the work of Master Wu Yuxiang. However, later, books such as "Comprehensive Guide to Taoist Qigong" and "Oriental Cultivation Library" as well as "The Small Frame of Wudang Zhao Bao Tai Chi Chuan" reprinted content from the 1970s Taiwan Freedom Press publication "Essence of the Taoist Canon," revealing that it was Zhang Sanfeng who proposed this idea. His secrets consist of fifteen sections, and the fourth section, "Tai Chi Chuan Method," mentions "its root is in the feet." Comparing this to Wu Yuxiang's works, except for a few words, the content is entirely the same. Here is an excerpt from "The Small Frame of Wudang Zhao Bao Tai Chi Chuan":

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Tai Chi from complicate to easy

        The Great Way is exceedingly simple, formless, and methodless. This represents a high-level state of naturalness and returning to simplicity. In this state of tranquility and non-action, selflessness and unity with nature, one does not seek to improve skills, yet skill naturally improves; one does not seek to heal, yet body and mind naturally adjust; one does not seek abilities, yet abilities naturally manifest; one does not seek the circulation of qi, yet all meridians naturally become unblocked. The most profound truths are the simplest and most ordinary. Transforming the most complex into the simplest is the highest wisdom. The greatest individuals appear noble precisely because of their simplicity.        The Great Way is exceedingly simple, and so is life. Enlightenment means that profound truths become simple, and simplicity reveals profound truths. From seeing mountains as mountains to seeing mountains as mountains again, the state is different. From simplicity to complexity and back to simplicity is the process of sublimation. The meaning of life lies in simplicity. When a person reaches a certain level of cultivation, they become indifferent to many things and simplify their lives. You may understand others, but they may not understand you; it is not about understanding, but about recognition.      Refined in mind and simple in form. Questioning the soul is the ultimate issue for humans. Simplicity is not only a form of supreme beauty but also a skill and a state of being. Seeing through but not saying through is a high realm; seeing vaguely but with clarity of mind is true insight. Knowing without knowing, seeing but deliberately not seeing through, is thorough understanding. Knowing that the world cannot be completely seen through is true insight. The clarity after the lack of clarity and the understanding after not understanding are true wisdom.

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The source movement of Tai Chi

          The main focus of Tai Chi Chuan practice is to train the "dang" (crotch area). Especially in Zhao Bao Tai Chi Chuan, the dang is the key to internal strength. Whether Tai Chi Chuan is lively or not depends on the operation of the dang. If the dang is not flexible, the movements will inevitably be sluggish. The dang and hips are the secrets of Tai Chi Chuan. This so-called "heavenly mechanism" refers to the key points of mystery, and all movements and changes rely on this. Without understanding this secret, it is difficult to achieve Tai Chi skills. Therefore, practicing Zhao Bao Tai Chi Chuan primarily involves training the dang. The dang is the key to the heavenly mechanism. Without the operation of the dang, Zhao Bao Tai Chi Chuan does not exist, highlighting its importance. To inspire those who practice Tai Chi Chuan, I emphasize cloning Tai Chi, even cloning the intricate details of a Tai Chi master's form, to understand how to operate the dang and control the whole body's movements with precision.       In Tai Chi Chuan, the dang plays a leading role, and its operation is hard to express in words. In the past, teachers used the analogy of puppet theater to explain the role of the dang and hips in Tai Chi Chuan. Puppet theater is performed with hands; without hands, there is no performance. This metaphor aptly captures the importance of "using the dang instead of the hands" in Tai Chi Chuan. Practicing Zhao Bao Tai Chi Chuan requires understanding how to "operate the dang," and Tai Chi master Zheng's method is extremely subtle, appearing as if it is not there. The higher the skill, the smaller the movement circles, making the changes imperceptible, which keeps the opponent unaware of one's depth and variability.

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