Fundamental Guide to Wudang Taiji
Taiji is an ancient Chinese system of exercise for people of all ages that can prevent and cure disease. It promotes health and is also an effective form of self-defense. The circular movements of Taiji are non-strenuous, soft and flowing. It is often described as “moving meditation” because it relieves stress and improves concentration. The slow turning motions loosen the joints and spine and relax points of tension in the body. Taiji trains the mind to direct the flow of internal energy or Qi. The movements are performed with a silk-like energy that is continuous, flexible, soft and effortless. Slow, deep and gentle breathing regulates the forms tempo. Taiji can be an effective therapy to strengthen the digestive, circulatory, and skeletal systems.
Taiji is thought to be descended from natural movements of animals observed by Daoist monks. Taiji was developed by incorporating the vast knowledge of Daoist meditative practices into moving postures, creating what is known as a soft or internal form of exercise. Conforming to Daoist philosophy, the form originates from Wu Ji, a state of stillness. Motion arises forming yin and yang —two complementary opposites that combine to form the whole. Each movement within the form contains yin and yang: inhalation and exhalation, soft and hard, empty and solid, right and left.
In Taiji, the body moves as a complete unit. The spine must be straight, and the head is held as if suspended by a string from above. The shoulders and elbows drop naturally. The chest is slightly concave while the back is slightly convex. The waist is the axis for all movements and must be loose. The mind must be concentrated and absorbed in the form. The subconscious mind directs the form while the conscious mind becomes pure and empty. Mind, body, and spirit are united as one, and a state of selflessness exists.
In Taiji practice, the practitioner uses the mind to direct Qi and Qi to direct movement. Motion arises from stillness (Wu Ji); Taiji is characterized by smooth flowing dance-like motion united with Qi Gong, the concentration of the mind and the practical application of internal Kung Fu. Seeking stillness in motion and practicing with a high degree of concentration balances the inner and outer and the practitioner reaches the stage of void: man united with heaven.
Pre-heaven Qi (Yuan Qi) is created from Wu Ji. Taiji’s fluid, harmonious, meditative movements train Yin and Yang and bring balance to the two kinds of inner Qi. Taiji allows us to reach balance and gentleness. Under a good teacher’s guidance, the practitioner can generate Yuan Qi in the Dan Tien. Through sitting and standing meditation techniques, and cooperative Taiji movement, the Qi can be cultivated into motion. You can improve the quality and quantity of Yuan Qi and its explosive power (Jing), balance Yin and Yang and, further, establish the internal foundation for Taiji sparring and push hands through the practice of Taiji.