Taijiquan for Health...

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Taijiquan for Health...

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:27 pm

As the art of taijiquan migrated to the shores of America it began to lose its roots. As marketing caught up with the fact that few of the new American practitioners were of the skill to teach this martial art, it was transformed from a 19th c. martial art in the case of the Yang family's art (16th c. in the case of the Chen's) into an "ancient Chinese health art." Without the yard stick of martial skill with which to measure instructors, nearly anyone with a year's training could set themselves up as a "teacher." And so the general quality of taijiquan quickly declined from the 1930-50s when Yang Chengfu & his students were teaching until now.



Few people interested in practicing this art today have need of it as the martial art taijiquan was created as. If so, why should we be concerned with the general loss of martial skill amongst today's teachers & students alike? Quite simply because in order to gain the health & physical fitness benefits of taijiquan we have to practice it properly in the manner in which its founders instructed we should. Clearly, without a clear understanding of what we are doing when practicing taijiquan we cannot be doing it mindfully. Naturally, if we are not practicing the solo form mindfully, there is no mind intent, it is not an internal art & thus there will be no internal development. This means no health benefit beyond what a good walk in the park & some stretching would provide.



I know that there are many people who will disagree with this position. (It has been my observation that those "teachers" who do not present taijiquan as a martial art, often even ignoring this aspect as though it does not exist, are those who have no martial ability.) I know that they will have quite a different position than the one I present. To this I answer simply their opinions vs. mine are unimportant & irrelevant. Why? Because we have the writings of the founders of & past great masters of taijiquan widely available to us today. It is their instructions which we should follow diligently. It is their teaching we should strive to understand rather than bending the art to our convenience.



With this in mind, I'd like to ask everyone to help create a data bank of quotes from the Classics of & past Masters* taijiquan that clearly explain the connection between this martial art & its health aspects. My contribution is below...



*please stick to masters who have passed on to avoid 'politics.'

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Taiji Form Practice...

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:33 pm

"Taiji form practice that ignores functional application bestows health benefits that are artificial at best."



Zheng Manqing (Cheng Man-ch'ing)

from

Master Cheng's New Method of T'ai Chi Self-Cultivation

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T. T. Liang

Post by iglazer » Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:39 pm

This is attributed to T.T. Liang:



Life begins at seventy. Everything is beautiful Health is a matter of utmost importance and all of the rest is secondary. Now I must find out how to enjoy excellent health in my whole life and discover the way to immortality.

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from T.T. Liang

Post by G-Man » Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:14 pm

"T'ai Chi Ch'uan is a combination of civil and martial aspects. The civil aspect stresses principles and the martial aspect stresses techniques. Both aspects must be taken into account; neglecting either one is not a real T'ai Chi Ch'uan."



T.T. Liang

from

T'ai Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self-Defense

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more T.T. Liang

Post by G-Man » Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:18 pm

So we see that the unification of both civil and martial aspects, the equal importance of Tao and techniques, and the internal cultivation with external training are the very best methods for beginners to learn T'ai Chi Ch'uan.



T.T. Liang

from

T'ai Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self-Defense

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even more T.T. Liang

Post by G-Man » Mon Feb 14, 2005 2:23 pm

The principles indicate the reason why; the methods indicate what ought to be; and the functions reveal the efficacy of both the principles and the methods. These three are all interdependent and mutually support each other in practice. Not one of them should be lacking.



T.T. Liang

from

T'ai Chi Ch'uan for Health and Self-Defense

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Post by Linda Heenan » Mon Feb 14, 2005 3:15 pm

Here's one. It's from somewhere in the Yang family manuscripts. Someone else may be able to supply the original author.



Translation found in T'ai-chi Touchstones by Douglas Wile -



"Those who possess inner principle without outer technique, who think only of quietism and know nothing of the practice of combat, are lost as soon as they commit the slightest error."

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Post by Jonathan » Mon Feb 14, 2005 11:32 pm

This is from T.T.Liang's book, page 73:



"Many students...think that tai chi chuan can be good for health but cannot be put to practical use. The method of practice in tai chi chuan is to study the principles first; when the principles have been thoroughly understood one learns specific techniques; when the techniques have been thoroughly mastered, then they can be applied in practical use. It is not because the art cannot be employed in practical use that students harbor doubts, but because their mastery of techniques has not yet reached the proper level."

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Post by MoMo » Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:00 am

This is part of an interview (1970s) with Chang Yiu Chun (1899-1986), student of Yang Shao Hou:



Q. Many people in the West have changed the Yeung Cheng-po style even more. Even in China we now have people changing the styles trying to integrate the three styles. (the beginning of the Peking styles... Editor). What is the future of T'ai chi ch'uan.



A. I do not want to say anything about the way in which our Government is changing the styles and I do not care what is happening in the West. But if T'ai chi ch'uan changes any more and no more people begin to teach the original Yeung style then when we used to have a goat, now we have a duck.



Q. So you think that Tai Chi has changed much since it was founded by Yang Lu chan



A. Yes, I look around China and see everywhere people who think they are doing Tai Chi Chuan but not many are realy doing Tai Chi Chuan.



Q. What do you mean, surely it does not matter what style they do, it must all be Tai Chi Chuan?



A. I am not talking about the different styles, I am talking about the way in which people learn Tai Chi Chuan today. They think that if they learn some slow movements that they are doing Tai Chi Chuan. It takes much longer and much more dedication to learn Tai Chi Chuan properly.



Q. But surely, those who do not wish to do Tai Chi for fighting will only ever have to do the slow movements for good health.



A. Some of them will gain some small benefit to their health, I agree but much better health is available through doing Tai Chi in the correct way.
"If you can walk one mile, you can walk a hundred miles"

Sigung Ho Fatt Nam

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Yang Ch'eng-fu on civil and martial

Post by Mark M. » Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:10 pm

Learning self-defense applications is indispensable in T?ai-chi ch?uan. Students who are primarily interested in exercise must also study applications. If they don?t, it becomes very dull and the majority will quit. In fact, ignoring the applications is also an obstacle to making progress in strengthening the body.



Yang Ch?eng-fu from ?Self Defense Applications of T?ai-chi ch?uan? (first edition 1931) cited in ?T?ai-chi Touchstones? (pg. 149)

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on the civil and the martial

Post by Bill » Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:41 pm

The civil is cultivated internally and the martial externally. Physical culture is internal and martial arts are external. When one?s cultivation of the internal and the external results in superior accomplishments, this is the highest level of attainment. If one attains martial art through the civil aspect of physical culture or the civil aspect of physical culture through martial arts, this is the middle level of attainment. The lowest level, then, is knowing physical culture without martial aspect or practicing only martial arts without physical culture.



From Yang Ch?eng-fu?s Self Defense Applications of T?ai-chi ch?uan (first edition, 1931) as cited in T?ai-chi Touchstones (pg. 139)

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Post by Tony » Thu Feb 17, 2005 12:13 am

"However, to have the civil without martial preparation is the essence without the function; to have the martial which is not coupled with the civil is the function without the essence."



Yang Family manuscripts copied by Shen Chia-chen, from Tai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions.

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Quote From Steal My Art

Post by Aquaman2 » Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:48 am

?T?ai Chi emphasizes relaxation. If the body is tense, the chi will rise up, impeding circulation. This is common with hard styles like Kung Fu and Karate. These arts involve using external, muscular force called li, which is issued from the bone. By striking this way it is possible to hurt yourself and the resulting tension is not beneficial. By utilizing slow movement in a relaxed manner, T?ai Chi is very good for your health.?



T.T Liang in the subchapter ?Nourishing Health? from Steal My Art.

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Re: Taijiquan for Health...

Post by vincenzo » Sat Feb 19, 2005 5:08 am

good idea scott, here's some Tung Yin Chieh words from Wile's

"Tai Chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions"



"Learning self-defense applications is indispensable in T'ai Chi

C'huan.

Students who are primarily interested in exercise must also study

applications.

If they don't it becomes very dull and the majority will quit.

In fact, ignoring the applications is also an obstacle to making

progress in strenghtening the body.

The purpose of mastering self-defense applications is not to bully

people, but to study the maravelous principles with firends.

You attack and I neutralize; I attack and you respond.

It flows on and on without end.

Every kind of change can take place without exhausting the

poissibilities.

If one relizes that there are infinite variations in T'ai Chi Ch'uan,

with dancing hands and stepping feet, then the interest increases

daily.

with practice over the years, this continuous and uforgettable joy

greatly strengthens the body. To train the body it is important to

study the applications, and even more so if one expects to face

opponents.

Therefore friends, when praticing T'ai Chi Ch'uan it is absolutely

necessary to study the applications."

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From Yang Ch'eng-fu

Post by Aquaman2 » Sat Feb 19, 2005 3:36 pm

The guiding principle of this book lies in giving equal importance to both principles and applications. The number of people studying T'ai-chi ch'uan increases daily. However, without understanding how to combine principles and applications, there will be very little benefit.



From Yang Ch'eng-fu's 'Complete Principles and Applications of T'ai-chi ch'uan' found in Chapter VIII of 'T'ai-chi Touchstones: Yang Family Secret Transmissions'.

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