The 10 principles of Tai Chi

An explanation of the most important concepts of Tai Chi

Even if 6 Dragons Kung Fu has a lot of differences with Tai Chi (Taiji), it is very useful to analyze the core concepts of this incredibly complex and fascinating style of Kung Fu.

Probably the teachings that we are going to share cannot be easily understood by the beginners but at our analysis will follow an in-depth explanation (in future articles).

Principle 1

We have to be empty, agile and keep the energy at the top of our heads.

Explanation:

  • We have to keep the concentration of our Qi at the top of the head
  • Our head must be straight to manage our balance (read Kung Fu rooting: the pyramid concept)
  • We must not abuse the brute force of the muscular strength
  • Muscular energy forces our neck to remain rigid
  • If our neck is in tension the circulation of blood and breathing becomes less efficient
  • Our strategic planning must not be instinctive but natural

Principle 2

We have to stretch the back and pull our chest.

Explanation:

  • We have to slightly pull our chest to allow the weave of our breathing to reach the dan tien area
  • We do not have to bend our trunk to avoid the breathing compression in the upper part of the chest
  • If the upper part of the chest is compressed it becomes heavy, the lower part lighter and feet would tend to float
  • The stretching of our back is the natural consequence of the flexion of the chest
  • Stretching our back we have to make the breath to stick to it
  • Doing this we can connect the power that comes from the spinal chord axis

Principle 3

We have to relax our waist.

Explanation:

  • The waist commands our entire body and can manage an incredible strength
  • This way the feet can apply the power and our pelvis becomes a firm foundation
  • The changes from “full” to “empty” of our body parts can be performed through the waist with spinning motions
  • When a practitioner has lacks of strength the problem is in the waist (and / or in the legs)

Principle 4

We have to be able to understand and express “full” and “empty” states of our body elements.

  • If we are concentrating all the percentage of our body’s weight on a leg it is full
  • If we are concentrating all the percentage of our body’s weight on a leg, the other is empty
  • Our movements (rotations, etc.) can be fast, effective and without effort only if we can manage the exchange from full to empty and vice-versa
  • If we are not able to control instinctively at the right moments and with the right harmony this changes, our flow becomes unstable, unbalanced and ineffective
  • This way, the quality of our movements becomes poor, we waste energies and we can be easily destabilized (even by the simplest opponent’s pulling)

Principle 5

We have to relax our shoulders and our elbows.

  • Relaxing the shoulders and elbows means letting them to freely fall down
  • Without shoulders’ relaxation, an unwanted tension will force our breathing to go upward
  • If breathing moves away from our dan tien, our entire structure will be weaker
  • If elbows are in tension and up, the shoulders cannot relax, this way we cannot express a powerful push (eg. to repel our opponent)

Principle 6

We have to tactically think in a creative manner instead of using the brute force.

  •  Our entire body must be without tensions, this way our energies do not remain locked in our bones, muscles (etc.)
  • If the body is not relaxed our movements / reactions are slower, a big part of the power that we could use cannot be released
  • Our organism has channels for circulating the breath, just like the earth has its own furrows, if there are no obstructions, water can flow freely
  • When stiffness fills these channels, blood and breath are hindered and unable to flow and our effectiveness disappears
  • Tai Chi strength comes from deep inside, if we trust on relaxation, blood and breath can circulate freely and continuously without intromissions
  • Even if it could appear as a contradiction, with the right training, we can use agility and flexibility to express resistance and rigidity
  • After a good training practitioner can reach a high level of efficacy where arms become like iron bars wrapped in cotton

Principle 7

We have to connect what is low with what is high and what is high with what is low.

  • As it happens for the marches of a car, energy starts slowly in the feet (1), increase in the legs (2), is directed by the waist (3) and is manifested in the fingers at full power / speed (4)
  • In the passage from feet to legs and then through the waist, it is fundamental a perfect consequentiality and unity (read Use the body power: the muscle chain)
  • Each minimum hand’s movement must be linked with the waist motion
  • High and low are united, if the feet move, the look of the eyes follows the feet (not looking at the feet, but adopting its direction)
  • If there is a lack of coordination or even a single body element is not harmonized with the rest, the big part of the power disappears
  • It’s for this reason that (during training) Tai Chi has a so slow practical execution, to search for each minimum error and gain a perfect balance

Principle 8

We have to join the inside activity with the outside one.

  • Every action must be guided by our internal activity, if we start our movements with our Qi flow, everything is natural, effective and without useless waste
  • The muscle chain of the movements must follow the alternation of full and empty, opening and closing (read The 6DKF’s combat breathing)
  • The highest level of practice quality can be reached only when the inside and the outside become one thing through breath

Principle 9

We have to chain all of our movements together without interrupting the flow.

  • Differently from many other martial arts, in Tai Chi not exist exits, stopping and / or interruptions of the flow
  • This happens because when the old force ends and the new one has not arisen yet, the practitioner is pray of his opponents
  • In Tai Chi, everything is connected without interruption from beginning to end
  • When a revolution ends, another one begins, the circular flow is developed towards the infinite
  • Real Tai Chi is similar to the waves of the sea, its movements are continuous, endless end directed by the breathing

Principle 10

We have to reach the calm in any movement.

  • In other martial arts muscles and breath are used to exhaustion, in Tai Chi practice movements are directed by calm
  • The concept is that, even if the practitioner is moving fast, he remains completely calm
  • To obtain this it is better to perform at the slowest possible speed (during training)
  • Thanks to slowness, breathing turns long and deep and we can easily understand how to concentrate it in the dan tien

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • 6 Dragons Kung Fu uses a lot of principles that come from the various styles of Tai Chi (Yang, Chen, etc.) but do not force the practitioner to only use softness (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch)
  • The reason why 6 Dragons Kung Fu adopt (not mix) different kinds of body interactions (soft, rigid, etc.) is that the fact of being able to change our combat style abruptly is a big advantage in front of any type of opponent
  • We are not saying that 6DKF is better than Tai Chi, it is only a matter of diversity of choices related to the world we live in, the experiences and especially the need to be open to the multiplicity (that can help us understand what really works for each of us, read Why is Kung Fu not used in MMA?/a>)

In the next article of this series, we will see how to put into practice the principles of Tai Chi.

In-depth articles

Questions

Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • In your opinion, what is the most important principle between the listed ones?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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