Key Principles – Wind River Tai Chi

What are some of the key principles that set tai chi Chuan apart from other martial arts and what is important in our practice of the art?
Push hands demonstration Sifu Jordan Misner and Scott Risano
Demonstrating Push Hands

Our practice evolves from a core principle of body integration. Many martial arts and artists espouse this principle but few actually follow or accomplish it. By whole body integration we mean that if the little finger moves it is moved by the whole body not just the muscles in the hand or forearm. When we step the whole body is involved not just the muscles of the legs, hips, and torso.

How do we achieve this integration?

The core of our practice revolves around Zhan Zhuang standing meditation. Through this practice we learn to stand using our whole body rather than just the external muscles of the legs, etc. The muscles that stabilize us and propel us become an integrated whole, and we begin to obtain conscious control of this aspect of the body. We are also learning to sink our chi and gain control over the concept that Yi (heart mind) leads the Qi. Through standing we learn to exercise, develop, store, sink, raise and use our chi. Standing in stillness makes this development easier and more conscious.

How do we know we are achieving integration?

The guideposts for this are fairly recognizable. Initially standing is a chore that requires effort to hold the arms up, hold the posture, relax the body, etc. The more we stand the more we begin to recognize a feeling of ease and fullness, usually beginning with the hands and then arms. Eventually, there should be no effort in the standing, no one muscle should be tense and the standing should feel like the Qi is doing everything. In other words I am no longer holding myself with effort, my muscles are completely relaxed and my Qi is holding me in the posture.

How long should I stand?
Practicing Standing at Master Tam's
Jamie Conley

As my Sifu told me, it is more important how correctly you stand. One minute of correct standing is enough. In my case it used to take 15 minutes or more to get a good correct minute of standing, however now it occurs almost instantly. An easy way to determine your time is to stand until you are uncomfortable, then see if you can relax through the discomfort, if you can’t stop. If you can then stand until you become uncomfortable again and then stop. 5 minutes at a time a few times a day is is another way to approach your goal.

What about forms, after all it is a tai chi school?
Tai Chi Chuan Form
Karin Blank, Jordan Misner and Jason Hurford as the Panda

We practice a yang style form that is similar in sequence to the Cheng Man Ching form, but the execution is much more detailed and precise.

What else is unique about tai chi as practice by Wind River Tai Chi?

Our tai chi is taught with a goal of understanding gaining skill of application as this is critical in obtaining the most benefit from our practice. Many do the form for health only and our class structure allows students to focus on health and/or application. All are taught each movement and posture with application in mind. This is because each movement of the form requires full integration of body. We also do other drills and practice that allows us to test our body integration and develop it further.

That’s all for now. more later. Jordan
posted by Jordan at 10:57 AM 0 comments

from Tai Chi Chuan – Daily – Wind River Tai Chi