Wu Tai Chi 108 Slow Form

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Sinking Weight / Qi Down

by Stephen Procter

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Have you ever been practicing your tai chi form and whilst shifting your weight or standing on one leg felt unbalanced and unstable? This feeling comes from improper sinking of your physical body and qi energy. When you perform movements during your tai chi practice the qi energy will start to rise, this can accumulate in your upper body turning the top half of your body into yang and lower half into yin making it feel top heavy.

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It is easy to observe this while practicing pushing hands because your balance is affected by another person’s force, but harder to observe when you are practicing the forms. Also too much Qi energy high in the body will coincide with an increase in thinking, thinking will stop any development in your practice and causes your ability to balance to be lowered. This is because a large part of physical balance comes from mental engagement with the action, if our thoughts are racing we cannot concentrate and without concentration physical balance is difficult.

We have all experienced tripping over due to being lost in thoughts while we were walking somewhere. During practice we should keep our thinking as simple as possible “in breath, out breath”, that’s all we need to think about. When performing tai chi keep the lower part of your body yang, solid, balanced as possible and upper body yin, light, soft, pliable. This does not mean that the upper body is never yang, during a punch for example the qi rises up through the strike, but as soon as it has finished you should sink your qi back down, into the lower body, connecting with the ground. This way the lower body remains stable and it is harder for your opponent to take advantage of your yang energy rising and making you top heavy.

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Learning to sink your weight whilst moving from one posture to another has more benefits then just increased balance and leg strength. It can also help to increase your concentration and be an aid to the settling of your mind. When you sink your weight down it is not only a physical movement but also a mental movement. If you combine the physical movement of bending your leg with placing your attention at the base of your foot and concentrating deep down into the ground, your Qi will also sink creating a strong foundation.
This has the feeling of hitting a strong post into the ground with a heavy hammer, picturing this mentally as you shift weight can help with increasing your ability to balance. This will remove the feeling of being “top heavy” whilst practicing your forms and will create a feeling of lightness and relaxation in your upper body.

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Posture 11. Side Loops

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11. Side Loops - step forward left loop hands right

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Side loops develops the skill of using the waist to whip the arms from the side to the centre of the body. This posture begins with the feet side by side, shoulder width apart and both hands in the centre.
Start by shifting and sinking your weight into your right leg, as you do so bring your hands down by your right side as if you are holding a ball beside your right hip, left hand is on top right below.
Step forward with your left leg and as you shift your weight onto it loops both your arms around from your right side to the centre of your body. The movement goes from low to high.

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Tai Chi Detailed Explanation Lesson 5

Side loops, block and punch, pull back and push



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Posture 12. Block & Punch

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12. Block & Punch - right punch, left hand blocking

After looping your hands to the centre of your body you transition into the Block and Punch posture. Start by sinking your weight back into your right leg emptying the weight from your left. As you do this form a block with the outer edge of your left hand, this blocking hand does not move backwards but stays stationary as the body moves away from it. You can do an experiment of this now, walk up to a wall and place the side of your left hand against it, now leaving your hand against the wall shift backwards away from it. The blocking hand stays stationary, your body and legs move, this is the feeling of the block in this posture.
When you sink back to block the right hand goes down and makes a loose closed fist by your right side. Make sure this arm is not bent but straight, with a soft elbow, facing towards the ground. To get the feeling of this sink back into your right leg and keep your punching arm bent, notice that when you do this the feeling of the energy is high. Now straighten your arm towards the ground, notice how this sinks the energy into your supporting leg.
Once you have sunk back you then shift forward to punch, move your body towards your blocking hand. The fist of the punching hand should be on its side with knuckles running from low to high, fingers facing inwards.

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Posture 13. Withdraw & Push

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13. Withdraw & Push - left hand under right elbow, open and push both hands evenly

This posture involves the skill of opening, sticking to and feeding force, to start this posture the left arm goes under the right elbow of the punching arm of the previous posture. Next turn both palms over keeping the elbows low sinking back into your right leg. Make sure at this stage you are bent at the waist and are not leaning backwards, energy should have the feeling of sinking down into the back leg.
Once sunk fully back and down circle the hands back into the centre of your body, palms now facing forward to push. Push forward from low to high using your legs, not your shoulders. At the end of the push the hands pull down with straight arms to waist height to end Tiger Springs to Mountain.

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Video of complete movements for this lesson

Side loops, block and punch, pull back and push



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Continue next lesson - Lesson 6


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This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you