The three stages of Chen Style Tai Chi -2

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One movement is one movement, difficult to seamlessly connect, continuous and uninterrupted. When practicing, there should be variations in speed, alternating between fast and slow. Fast should not be scattered, slow should not be stagnant. The whole body should be coordinated, unified in one breath. Even if the postures are correct, the timing is accurate, and the breathing for each movement is accurate, and the understanding of the purpose and application of each movement is clear, it does not immediately progress to the second stage. It is necessary to gradually eliminate the stiffness in the body through repeated refinement. This process takes two to three years. Only when all aspects are correct and the original stiffness in the body is eliminated can one ascend to the stage of understanding Jin.

The second stage: the stage of understanding Jin. Understanding Jin means understanding the mechanical principles of force in Tai Chi Quan, understanding the biomechanics and the movement laws of Jin. After understanding Jin, one can apply the principles of biomechanics to achieve optimal physical fitness and self-defense. Understanding Jin involves not only understanding one’s own Jin but also understanding the opponent’s Jin. It requires understanding the direction, magnitude, length, speed, and timing of the opponent’s Jin. By mastering and applying these Jin, one can differentiate different types of Jin, dissolve Jin, apply Jin, and issue Jin. Master Chen Zhaopi once said, “If you only practice softness without practicing firmness, your threat to the opponent will be minimal. If you only practice speed without practicing slowness, the route of applying Jin will be distant, and your understanding of Jin will be shallow.” Following Master Chen Zhaopi’s requirements is the necessary path before understanding Jin and the most effective method. While practicing the Tai Chi Quan routine, one must also practice pushing hands; one cannot do without the other. Whether practicing only the forms or only pushing hands, it is only half of Tai Chi Quan and it is difficult to reach the stage of “understanding Jin.”

Understanding Jin is a simple and unadorned, practical internal skill that is a necessary path to reach the advanced stage of divine understanding. It cannot be clearly expressed in abstract language. To understand Jin, it must be taught orally by a teacher and learned through repeated practice in the actual learning process. It should be practiced strictly according to the requirements of Tai Chi Quan, eliminating the original stiffness, clumsiness, brute force, and arrogance in one’s body. Let go of the original restlessness, superficiality, and dominance. Grasp the Dantian and cultivate internal Qi. Through the practice of Tai Chi Quan routines, discern between turbid Qi and clear Qi. Let the turbid Qi descend and the clear Qi ascend. In this stage, the practice of Tai Chi Quan routines is driven by internal Qi, where Qi arrives before the form and does not move until Qi arrives. One must be empty above and solid below, externally gentle and internally firm, continuous and connected, and able to rotate freely. Through repeated practice, mastery and precision are achieved. The teacher imparts the rules of Tai Chi Quan, and one should not only learn the rules but also the essence. Mastery comes through dedicated practice. Only with continuous practice and proficiency can skillfulness naturally arise. By combining it with pushing hands practice, following the principles of Tai Chi Quan—neither resisting nor collapsing, maintaining a calm mind and qi while interacting with people of different physical abilities and levels—one can diligently practice, carefully ponder, and based on the teacher’s demonstrations and the fundamental laws of pushing hands, repeatedly practice and accumulate over time. When the time is ripe, there will be a sudden realization, a comprehensive understanding, and mastery of the laws of understanding Jin

-Grandmaster Jincai Cheng, Translated : Mark.

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