Some Mindfulness for structural alignment based on some TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) concepts and Tai Chi Classics:
The ideas come from 3 Dan Tien, , simple body alignments, and upright spine and what to do to achieve this in Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan).
On structural imbalances: 3 dan tien: are located in the head, chest, and hips.
1. Upper dan tien: YinTang between eyebrows as a spiritual center.
2. Middle dan tien: between nipples: Mind and emotional center.
3. Lower Dan tien: True center, center of gravity below umbilicus.
Tai Chi Classics for body alignment:
1. Sink the chest,
2. Sink the qi to dan tien,
3. Move with the Qi sticking to the back and permeating the spine.
“Stand like a balanced scale and rotate actively like a wheel.”
1. Hips level: non-forcefully lengthening lower back, slight tilt of hip and tailbone.
2. Shoulders level- slight roundness of back, sink of chest.
3. Head suspended: shoulders down, head lifts up.
These Complete the scale.
Align these to help the yin (Ren mai) and yang (du mai) energies of the body balance like a scale at: Neck ST 9, SP15- lateral to navel, KD11 pubic bone of hip.
They are some reference points that assist with body structure and opening Du and Ren mai:
Hip Alignment: Pubic bone point KD11 and SP15 above at the anterior ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac spine) in the Front with the sacrum and mingmen Du4 on the back.
Neck Region alignment: ST9, SCM (Sternocleidoidmastoid muscle) muscle on the anterior side in the front aligns with Du 16 at the EOP (External occipital protuberance) on the back of neck.
Some Taijiquan masters with education in TCM will discuss the importance of opening the the Ren and Du mai vessels to correct structural issues.
It is said to do this by: Connect with the Ren mai, by way of the Du mai beginning at the Hui Yin point CV1 at the perineum. It is located between the sex organ and the anus. It connects with GV1 at the tip of the coccyx. It is important that the qi reaches to the top of head, when this occurs it can move down. It has to pass the difficult ‘locks’ at the shoulders and neck to reach the top. By following the principles of Taijiquan body requirements this should naturally open without forcing to much effort.
On the Upright body:
Taiji Lun: “Do not lean in any direction” Insights to the 13 postures (Wang Tsung-Yu): “Body must me upright and stable, comfortable to support force from 8 directions.”
Ming men- space between kidneys.
Chapter 8 of the Han Dynasty TCM classic: Nanjing mentioned, “Space between kidneys that pulsates.”
This is probably one of the most important points for health and commonly activated in qigong and Taijiquan.
CV3/CV4- Lower Dan tien is considered an area for longevity, bones, blood, and sexuality/libido.
1. “Sink Qi to the tan tien” phrase in TCC to accumulate Qi there, it is the first martial art to address this location. In TCM it is thought to tonify kidneys and adrenals, strengthen immune system, fortifies bones and sexual organs.
2. Rotation of body: should originate from this dan tien center.
3. Weight shifting: is initiated from this center.
On the Inner Exercise of TCC (Tai chi Chuan): in TCM, Qi has excess or deficiency imbalances. When this imbalance happens, Qi gets stuck or blocked and eventually leads to disease. TCC is used to circulate blood and qi, and when this circulation improves the mind relaxes more. The homeostasis that heals the body can then begin to repair imbalances.
Mentality in Taijiquan: Is one of softness, gentleness, yielding, acceptance.
You yield to force and place self in advantageous situations. Find strength in softness. Competition, success, and power are let go of. Life is full of uncontrollable situations. Trying to control and be perfect creates undue stress. Trying to achieve influence only brings disappointment, and bad health. Releasing muscular tension is important so that we can use feeling to seek out tension. Even when standing , we try to release tight muscles in our thighs.
Conclusion: Martial Art harmonized with Wai gong (External skill) and Neigong (Internal skill).
With diligent practice and perseverance, we believe that the original intent of practicing the solo forms of Taijiquan, you should have a balance of unified external: addressing opponent (martial art) with focus on your external structure, combined with inner awareness of bone structure with relaxation. The Tai Chi classics are the key to obtaining this as previously mentioned. While some channels, vessels, and points are mentioned, they should not be the areas of focused intent, but rather assistants to points of reference for proper structure.
Martial Structure in Action and Purpose in Taijiquan: Gotta know how to FIGHT with it!
video sample of DAO: Square, Wedge, and Spherical structure to uproot opponent
13 chapters on Taijiquan– translation of Cheng Man Ching’s book by Douglas Wile.
Tao of Taijiquan- Jou, Tsung-Hwa
The Master Tapes- Shur Jung school videos from NYC. Can be found here: http://www.chengmanching.com/OrderForm.htm
Ben Lo lectures- Compiled by Martin Inn can be found here: http://www.iritaichi.org/iri-store.html
TCM practitioner and Tai Chi master: Martin Inn, Internal Research Institute: Iritaichi.org