Building a Daily practice with Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan)

Building a Daily practice with Tai Chi Chuan-
single-whip

Here is a list of some things you can do to build your practice. It serves as a guideline for a healthy practice.

“Tai Chi is there for you, you do not have to be there for Tai chi.“- Dr. Amy Tseng

Be sensitive to your body and do not pile stress on top of stress. Exercise every day until you break a light sweat. Dress warmly in several layers and walk, do slow motion squatting exercises, or Tai Chi until you sweat (lightly). This helps eliminate toxins and raise the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) so that you more efficiently metabolize the food you eat. Make small goals each day: maybe start with 15 minutes of Tai Chi in the morning and afternoon and build up the time. When you develop a routine in the morning, it helps your body to save some energy. Go to bed on time and then get up early enough to give yourself time to follow your routine calmly and quietly. Each time you get out of the routine, it is a small trauma for your body. There is a saying in Kung fu training: Training is like rowing up a river, but when you take time off from your routine, you are going down the stream and losing your gains to the final destination.

The style of Tai Chi Chuan I do is Yang style. It comes from the lineage of Yang Cheng Fu from his disciple Fu Zhong Wen to Sifu Wei Qi He, who was my teacher.
More about Yang Family here.

Tai Chi salute and motto: diligence, perseverance, respect, sincerity are ingredients for Tai chi kung fu.

Diligence– Hard work and effort is prerequisite for skilled development. Daily practice on a regular basic will ultimately be rewarded by beneficial results.

Perseverance-It is important that a long and enduring sense of purpose be cultivated. A sense of purpose combined with regular daily practice will serve to achieve that purpose.

Respect- Respect for your master, teacher, and fellow man is paramount. Deal with others in taking consideration their backgrounds and in the light of their expectations. Mutual respect serves to enhance a sense of community and solidarity in a society where individuals treat each other with respect.

Sincerity- Sincerity in attitude or motivation is a prerequisite for learning Taijiquan. In order to achieve, a genuine resolve to pursue your goal must exist. Deal with others sincerely if you want them to reciprocate. Maintain sincerity in the fore of your dealing with others and you will achieve a smooth flow in relationships.

Yang Cheng Fu’s 10 essences of Taijiquan: Take time to stand and go over these mentally and keep in mind when performing Tai Chi chuan:
1. Raise the head, lift the spirit to the crown.
2. Sink the chest and round the back.
3. Relax the waist.
4. Separate the weight, understand the full and empty in the legs.
5. Drop the elbows and shoulders.
6. Coordinate the upper and lower body.
7. Coordinate the inner with the outer.
8. Use the mind not external force.
9. Move continuously without interruption.
10. Seek stillness within motion.

Warm-ups: opening the joints.
1. Neck rotations-3
2. Shoulder rotations-3
3. Wrist rotations-3
4. Elbow rotations-2
5. Waist rotations-2
6. Waist twist-2
7. Spine flex and extend-2
8. Hip circles-2
9. Knee circles-3
10. Ankle circles-2

Stretches-
Floor sitting stretches:
1. Straddle front, left and right
2. Single leg left and right
3. Forward bend with two feet
Standing/wall stretches:
1. Leg swing back and fourth (both legs)
2. Leg swing sideways(both legs)
3. Touch toes
4. Various partner stretches, some of the above can be done with partner to get extra range of motion.

Standing meditation: take a few breaths to relax each section:
Close eyes:
Relax crown, relax facial muscles, relax sides of neck.
Relax shoulders, relax upper arms, relax forearms, relax hands.
Relax chest, relax upper back, relax waist, relax abdomen, relax hips and groin.
Relax lower back, relax upper legs, relax calves, relax down to feet.
Visualize favorite color inside and out.
Slowly open eyes.

8 Piece brocade or Yang Taiji Qigong: build a surplus of Qi. Breath silently, use feeling.
Yang taiji sample qigong:
1. Dan tien breathing.
2. Raise hands.
3. Repulse monkey.
4. Wave hands like clouds.
5. Closing qigong at dan tien.

Tai Chi stance work-
1. Open and closing hips in Tai chi front stance. (fundamental taiji stance weight shifting)
2. Vertical circle with hips. (push stance weight shifting)
Other: empty stance, drop down stance, balance stance, etc.

Tai Chi walking (5 directions/elements)
1. Central equilibrium (stillness and centered when starting and finishing).
2. Forward stepping
3. Backward stepping
4. Left side stepping
5. Right side stepping
practice 2-5 across a room to get deep leg workout. Later add hand movement with the Tai Chi walking.

Stepping with hand:coordinate upper and lower body as one unit
1. Part horse mane (similar to ward off) forward stepping.
2. Repulse monkey- backward step w/ hand.
3. Wave hands like clouds- sideways stepping.
4. Grasp Bird Tail- ward off, roll back, press and push (4 core movements of Tai Chi).
practice each across a room to get deep leg workout with upper body coordination.
brushknee
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Taolu: short form repetitions. 2x
24 shi Taijiquan video here
40 shi Taijiquan video here

Basic Tui Shou/Push hands: partner- yield and push exercises.
1. Ward off circle left. (same hand and foot)
2. Ward off circle right.
3. Brush knee circle left.(opposite hand and foot)
4. Brush knee circle right.

Tai chi warm down/self patting massage
1. Outside of legs
2. Inside of legs
3. Lower back/kidneys
extra: swinging arms hitting body- abs, shoulders, etc.
4. Outside of arms
5. Inside of arms
6. Face massage
7. Scalp massage- wake brain.
8. Ear massage
9. Stomach massage
10. Reverse tan tien breathing 9x

Background History-
Tai Chi Chuan (pinyin: Taijiquan) is practiced by millions of people daily in Asia and around the world as a means of exercise for health and healing. Tai chi chuan is often associated with myths that it was studied by monks in the temples at the sacred Taoist mountain of Wu Dang. It was created by a legendary martial artist name Chan San Feng who had studied some Shaolin boxing, but having a dream of a crane and snake fighting, came up with the idea of a boxing style that would use principles of yin and yang, softness and hardness in execution. Tai Chi is the classic Taoist term for Yin and yang symbol (pronounced Tai gee aka Taiji). It is also the name of the Taoist constellation of the North star ‘Polaris’ which is in line with the axis of the earth. The human body also can rotate on its own axis and center of gravity.

Historians point out that the origin is Chenjiaogou, a village in Henan province of China. This martial art was eventually studied by a Garrison Commander, Chen Wan ting. Chen family hid their art for many generations. Yang Lu Chan, was a servant to the Chen family. He was able to study with Chen Changxing, a 9th generation Chen family.

Yang Lu chan learned to fight with the art. He was invited to teach for the Emperor’s Imperial guard in Beijing’s Forbidden city. Later his sons, Yang Pan Hou and Yang Chien Hou, became famous teachers in Beijing and Shanghai for their fighting prowess. Yang Lu Chan’s grandson, Yang Chen Fu had the most impact on the growth of Tai Chi Chuan teaching to many cities in China. He standardized the form and wrote several books.

In 1956, the Chinese Communist government’s sport and health department created a short form using the Yang’s style of Tai chi called 24 step Tai chi, so that it would be easier for people to practice.

Tai chi chuan was studied by several different families. The movements are expressed differently, so we have many styles of Tai Chi today. Some Tai chi forms are using small circles, other large circles, some use a low stance, while others might use high or medium level stance, some focus more on fajin “explosive power” while others try to relax inside or do soft chan su jin “silk reel and pull”. In China, the different styles are classified in several ways- Old frame, New frame, Big frame, Small frame, High frame, Low frame, Fast frame, Big frame, etc. The Yang style form is considered “Big frame”.

There are some styles of Tai Chi, ‘Wu Dang’ Tai chi, that is from the Wu Dang temple. There is the ‘Chen Tai Chi’ practiced by the Chen family descendants. Lao Jia(Old Frame) Chen forms are popular as well as Xian Jia (New frame chen) and practiced today. Both the Chen Lao Jia and Xian Jia have two routines: Yi Lu (first road) and Er Lu (second road)form, the first road is a softer form, while the second form is nicknamed Pao Chi or “Cannon fist” which is higher use of fajin explosive movement.

Yang Tai Chi is from the Yang family style which we talked about earlier. Wu Tai Chi is from Wu Quan Yu and his son Wu Chien Chuan who studied with Yang Lu Chan were Manchurian Palace guards. There is another Wu style from Wu Yu-Hsiang from Yang Lu Chan’s home town of Guang Ping, in Yongnian Prefecture, who also studied with Yang Lu-Chan and Chen Ching Ping. There is Hao style Taiji and Li style Tai Chi that evolved from Wu Yu-Hsing’s nephew Li Yi-Yu and his disciple Hao Wei Zheng. Lastly there is Sun Tai Chi from Sun Lu-Tang, a student of Hao Wei Zheng.

Cheng Man Ching helped develop Tai Chi in the USA in the 1960’s. He was a ghost writer for Yang Chen Fu’s books, and his variation on Tai Chi chuan is very popular in the Taiwan, Malaysia, USA, and Europe. It is often called the ‘Yang 37 Short form’. Cheng Man Ching’s student Robert W. Smith, who wrote many books on Tai Chi Chuan in English, taught and lived in the Washington D.C. metro area and is pivotal to the development in America as well. There are even a dozen other rare styles of Tai Chi, but those mentioned are typically the most popular and well known.

taijimasters

In this photo from left to right: Fu Zhong Wen, Yang Chen Fu, Yang Shao Hao, Sun Lu Tang, Wu Chien Quan, Ma Yueh Liang, Tung Ji Yieh, Chen Wei Ming (below Sun Lu Tang).
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Martial Training in Taijiquan:Advance training work after developing your basics:
List of sample of more advanced training for those who want to go deeper into the fighting aspects of the art.
Continuation of the Taijiquan/Tai chi chuan curriculum:

Taolu empty hand:
Yang Long form “Big frame”.
Yang Fajin form

Short Weapon: Yang Taiji straight sword (double edge sword)
– 13 basic techniques
-Taiji sword form
-two person form
-padded short weapon fighting

Short weapon: Taiji saber (single edge sword)
– 13 basic techniques
-13 saber form
-two person form
-padded short weapon fighting

Long Weapon: Yang Taiji spear.
-13 basic techniques
-form
-two person forms
-padded long weapon fighting

sample of 20 Qin Na: (seizing and grappling)
1. Taiji Raise hands grab/and counter grab.(2)
2. Escapes- yank and turn away with wrist to escape grabs.
3. Escape two grips.-grab fist, tiger mouth escapes.(2)
4. Counter grabs and apply various qin-na: chen elbow roll.(2)
5. Taiji pung: step behind leg, shoulder shove.

sample of 20 combat throws:
11. Taiji Single leg take down.
12. Taiji Double leg take down (carry tiger back to mountain).
13. Taiji White Crane throw.
14. Taiji brush knee kick catch
15. Taiji cross hands as a double take down.
16. Carry tiger to mountain as a counter throw.
17. Taiji repulse monkey as a throw.
18. Taiji slant flying as a throw.
19. Taiji Wave hands like clouds as a throw.
20. Taiji Needle at sea bottom throw.
21. Squatting single whip to fireman carry.

Advanced Tui Shou/Push hands:
-4 square (pung, lu, ji, an).
– Da Lu (tsai, lieh, zhou kao).

21 Step fighting techniques:Practice of these on focus mitts, heavy bag, thai pads, and partner.
1. Offense: Jab, double jab, triple jab. (3) (Taiji single whip, open fan with fist, Cross/straight rt. (taiji brush knee with fist), forward pressure, timing, and angles.
2. Defense: 5 element stepping, step away, slip, parry, 6 pt. cover, distance, timing.
19. Sealing Vessels.
20. Bone breaking, joint breaks.
21. Pressure point techniques.

sample of 20 Ground fighting techniques and training:
1. Shrimping/ground agility techniques and transitions, quad-animal exercises (monkey, gator, etc.)
2. Rolling /tumbling, cartwheels.
3. Break falls- front ,back, side.
4. Positions: back mount, side mount, full mount, guard, half guard, turtle,

Freestyle sparring: five 3 minute rounds of sparring.
– Taijiquan/internal sparring. Demonstrate Taijiquan in the fighting.

Strength Conditioning: strength: Ma bu, burpies, leg lifts, plank, sit ups, push ups.
Jibengong, stances, stretch work, jumps.
-advanced: 20 one arm push ups.
-weight training, sprints, stamina, endurance circuits and interval drills.

Qigong attainment: Demo to be able to take hits to arms, legs, torso, back, etc.
-Qigong ability: qi healing, massage, and acupressure.

Breaking- board and brick breaking with hands and feet.

All of these things are part of Chinese martial arts training as a whole to train fighters willing to do the hard work.

About Administrator

Coach Matt Stampe is a Database Administrator and I.T. professional. In the world of Bodywork, he has been a Massage Therapist, and is currently a student at Virginia University of Oriental Medicine (VUOM.edu). He has taught hundreds of people Authentic Tai Chi Kung fu for over 25 years at places including: Kung fu schools, Parks and Recreation centers, Chinese schools, Martial arts clubs, MMA/Boxing gyms, and Acupuncture Universities. He has positively impacted peoples lives whether for health, sport, strength, and spirit. As a true combat athlete and fighter, he teaches realistic methods so people can be confident to defend themselves. (without all the woo-woo mystical BS.)
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