|6 balanced pairs|
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The '6 balanced pairs' neigong is relatively easy because the first 3 are physical. By establishing a relationship between different parts of the body you can improve postural balance.
Paying attention to postural balance affects the flow of oxygen within your body and this in turn results in a general trend of positive change.
People are seldom aware of physical faults; their sense of balance is not reliable.
When most students are asked to adopt a shoulder-width stance with the insides of the feet parallel, they usually have one foot askew but feel as if they don't. Then they look.
The Chinese sage unifies in himself the two complementary sides of human nature - intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge, contemplation and social action.
The 6 balanced pairs
These are the '6 harmonies':
Hands & feet
Elbows & knees
Hips & shoulders
3 external harmonies, 3
Learn how to move in a more internal way:
Hands & feet
- hands and feet must coordinate
- if the right hand is yang, the left foot is yang
- the further past the feet you extend your hands, the less centred you are
Elbows & knees
- elbows and knees must both be naturally relaxed and in line
- elbows and knees do not initiate any movement
- knees are soft and loose, not locked or collapsed (this will allow the pelvis to drop naturally)
- elbows are dropped and heavy and extended forward slightly
- elbows and knees store and release together
Hips & shoulders
- shoulders must be above the hips
- do not lean upper torso forwards or backwards
- vertical distance between shoulder and hip should not increase or decrease on either side
Hands & feet - stepping
In order to step, all of your weight must first move into the supporting leg - making it 100% weighted. The unweighted leg then lengthens and the foot places.
There is no more weight in the foot than the weight of the foot itself. When stepping, transfer weight from the heel to the ball of the foot.
Feel how the ball actually pushes slightly back towards you when it receives pressure from the weight shift. This awareness is very important because it prevents the knee joint from being bent too far.
Hands & feet - dynamic interplay
Our tai chi requires interplay between the feet during a tai chi movement. Consider moving within a bow stance:
You shift the weight from the rear leg into the lead. The rear foot pushes and the lead foot uses the ball of the foot actively as pressure is fed into the foot - this is called 'sending and receiving'.
The pressure bounces back slightly to create a waving action between the legs.
Shen fuels intention which in turn directs the energy:
- emotional content: "the shen is like that of a cat about to catch a rat" (Wu Treatise)
- vitality "When the shen is raised, there is no fault of stagnancy and heaviness." (Wu Treatise)
- at one with the moment/immersion "The shen is relaxed and the body calm. The shen is always in the mind." (Wu Treatise)
- loss of self, ego, self-consciousness, vanity, pride
- The Tai Chi Classics speak of shen being the focus, not qi
- shen can be seen in every movement and in your eyes
- not macho, fearful, angry, frustrated or aggressive, competitive - "Inwardly make the shen firm, and outwardly exhibit calmness and peace." (Wu Treatise)
- intention is not to be confused with 'willpower' (forcing)
- it is about coordinating mind and body; having your mind in the here and now, feeling your body itself and relative to another person
- clarity, awareness, presence
- going with the flow; yielding
- adapt, change and improvise
- respond to what is taking place, not to thoughts, opinions or ideas
- intention enables the student to manifest specific jing - "If the mind wants to move upward, it must simultaneously have intent downward." (Chang San-feng)
- "Throughout the body, the intention relies on the shen, not on the qi. If it relied on the qi, it would become stagnant." (Wu Treatise)
- bad poise/posture putting the body under duress
- the need for moderation; not too much, not too little... just enough
- failure to rest, relax, stop
- time management/commitments, personal life, work
- gaps & deficiencies "The whole body should be threaded together through every joint without the slightest break." (Chang San-feng)
- "In motion the whole body should be light and agile, with all parts of the body linked as if threaded together." (Chang San-feng)
- removal of impediments: tension, stiffness, compressed cavities, closed joints, collapsed muscles, pushing (physically & mentally), hands too close to the body or too far away, thinking
- 'dead movement' - when a movement ends and then a new one must begin afresh "Taijiquan is like a great river rolling on unceasingly." (Chang San-feng)
- failure to perpetuate the use of energy is a mistake in taijiquan (solo/form or partnered/application)
- strong stretching, exaggeration, over-commitment, disconnected movement and exertion are all physically taxing; wasting energy
- applications of a start/stop variety fail to use energy skilfully
- jing-based practice
- lightness, agility & grace "A feather cannot be placed, and a fly cannot alight on any part of the body." (Wang Treatise)
- not li (force against force, more than 4 ounces of pressure exerted by you or expressed by you, localised arm and shoulder movement, deep, long or wide stances, fixed legs - disconnected upper & lower, tensed muscles, over-emphasis of the hip joint, incorrect use of the pelvis and hips, pushing upon impact, aggression)
Yang style has something of the
feeling of 'killer energy' about it; it is more martial in appearance.
A spectator can see the applications of the movements when they watch the form.
(Master Xu Shu Song)
18 April 1995
Last updated 17 September 2019