The Internal Art of Tai Chi


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The Body in Tai Chi



        All joints are kept loose in tai chi.  The feet root the body and then the waist pushes the shoulder which then guides the elbow and then finally the wrist and fingers.  Make sure that the hands don’t move faster than the body.  As well, while practicing the form, don’t maximize the extensions.  Remember in the theory that there’s always a bit of yin in yang.



        At the beginner level, we want to aim breathing to be long, deep and slow – regardless of speed of movement.  To some extent breathing may correspond to movement but it doesn’t always workout so it is best to just avoid the correlation and worry about breathing naturally.  When breathing, let your abdominal muscles expand and contract as opposed to the chest. 


Qi or Chi

        Qi or Chi is the term tai chi enthusiasts use for energy.  The “chi” in tai chi and “chi” when we refer to energy have very different meaning and are different characters.  It’s more appropriate to call “tai chi”, “taiji” since that’s the more correct pronunciation.  Chi, for energy, is pronounced just as it is written (“chee”). 

        Qi will flow within the body with the aid of intent and blood. 

        Inhaling brings qi into the body while exhaling serves to deliver force.



        Keep the back upright so that the energy can flow continuously and without obstruction.


Dan Tien (Energy Well)

        The Dan Tien is located about three finger spacings below the navel and inside the body.  Regardless of style, the Dan tien is believed to be the place where chi is stored.  When we practice, we want to be mindful of this area and therefore we sink our energy to this reservoir.  The goal in tai chi practice is to collect as much qi as possible. 



Updated August 29,2011