Tai Chi Chuan – Yang-style Short Form
Maret 3, 2011 Tinggalkan komentar
(simplified Chinese: 太 极 拳 traditional Chinese: 太 極 拳 pinyin: tàijíquán)
I’ve been practicing Yang-style Tai Chi since 1991. Lately, I’ve felt that even with the explosion of information available on the Internet, that there are still not enough step-by-step explanations of martial arts forms.
There are precious few books that provide detailed information about forms, with clear pictures and instructions. For those few that have clear instructions, fewer have applications, and none I’ve seen show alternative explanations (although I hear that Elmar Schmiesser’s book on karate kata applications is a very notable exception).
Even with those qualities, better still would be a “living” document to which applications and explanations can be added and expanded over time. That is the ultimate objective of this effort.
Wikipedia has a typically comprehensive article on the history and various styles of Tai Chi.
There are as many Tai Chi forms as there are teachers. While there are many wrong ways to do a given form, there are also often many right ways that are different from each other. It’s easy to get caught up in debates about what is the “best” way to do a movement. Better is to pick a style and a teacher and stick with that approach, at least for several years.
In all the movements, the body leads the arms. The arms move relatively little. They are usually in front of the body. Turn the hips and let the arms follow. Push the body forward from the heels when pressing forward, then let the arms follow in pressing forward to the target.
Move as though under water. Let the momentum of your body movements toss your arms into place. Imagine your arms as large strands of kelp flowing with the waves.
When there are techniques with an open hand, spread the fingers and thumb slightly so they are relaxed and not touching each other.
Try to let the elbows and shoulders drop. Let the head, neck and spine be vertical from the crown of the head to the tip of the coccyx. Imagine you are a marionette and the puppetteer’s strings are connected to your head wrist and feet only. All other joints just fall into place.
When stepping, make sure that at all points you can stop motionless with your stepping foot above the ground. This is very different from normal, everyday walking or running where the center of gravity goes forward of the supporting foot even before the leading foot hits the ground. Until the leading foot touches the ground, it should be under your complete control. It should also be inaudible when it touches the ground, rather than landing with a sound as normal stepping does. Imagine (or even try this if you can), wearing hard-soled tap dance shoes on a tile floor. You should be able (with much practice) to step silently.
At first, it is likely that your thigh muscles will not have the strength to stay in a low stance comfortably for the entire form. If you practice the whole form several times a day, slowly, in gradually lower stances, your muscles will become much stronger. Initially, when fatigued, they may even shake. This is normal. Of course, if you have joint injuries, be careful, and do not make stances so deep they cause any sharp pain. However, barring injury, you should strive for stances that are as low as your ankle flexibility will allow. It’s common to see pictures of great masters doing tai chi with high stances. It’s not necessary to do low stances to do correct tai chi. But rest assured those masters did extremely low stances when they were younger, to strengthen their legs, and learn all the dynamics of a powerful form.
Let your eyes follow the hand that is doing the next technique until it hits its target. Notice how in step 8 how the eyes follow first the right hand, then the left. While the eyes may look right or left, notice how the head stays facing straight ahead, generally in line with the direction the torso is facing (play guitar is a slight exception to this however).
It is traditional (although not necessary) to face south while doing tai chi. I find it most natural to face an open area with something behind me (which is arguably a good martial application), or to face the direction of the sun.
|2. Beginning (起 式). Raise arms out in front to shoulder height as you straighten your knees somewhat. Then bend elbows and drop your weight. Imagine pushing a beach ball down into the water.|
|10. Shoulder strike. Turn to the left and withdraw the right foot. Place the left hand into the crook of the right elbow. Drop the right arm with the palm facing out to your right while stepping forward and putting weight onto the right foot.|
|14. Brush knee and twist (左 搂 膝 拗 步). Repeat of step 12.|
|15. Play guitar. Repeat of step 13.|
|16. Brush knee and twist (左 搂 膝 拗 步). Repeat of step 12.|
|18. Push. Repeat of step 7.|