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The role of qigong in taijiquan

A taijiquan beginner is not adept with taijiquan so they need to do a lot of qigong.
It provides the necessary fitness benefits by serving as a stopgap pending higher level taijiquan skill.

An advanced student starts practicing the round form version of the Long Yang form.
This increases the fitness benefits of form; allowing them to spend less time training qigong.

An expert is more adept with higher level taijiquan skill, so they only do a small amount of qigong.
There is simply no need to stand for an extended duration since greater benefits can be gained through whole-body movement.
 

The exercises that I teach in this book are qigong, but to balance our body we need to practice cardiovascular and strength training as well.

(Yan Lei)

Stages

A new starter usually commences class with muscular tension, poor bodily awareness and incorrect skeletal usage.
They cannot reasonably perform 'internal' qigong well.
It is necessary to work through clear stages of development:

  1. Stage 1
    - this is what the student starts with
    - it reflects their initial capacity to perform each exercise
    - a crude sense of the qigong is gained
    - the aim is to acquire a sense of each exercise
     

  2. Stage 2
    - the onus is upon relaxation of the muscles in order to drop the shoulders, elbows & wrists, and free the hips, sacroiliac, scapula, knees, vertebrae, neck, chest & ankles
    - the hips, back and chest are opened and expanded
    - functional alignment is established between key joints in order to rely on postural muscles for strength
    - coordination of weight shift, waist turn and arm movement 
    - the student reaches to 50% of capacity
    - square on the inside, round on the outside
    - the fitness benefits are increased notably

     

  3. Stage 3
    - lengthening takes place without straining the joints or provoking muscular tension
    - the muscles are encouraged to perform a more demanding, diverse range of actions
    - the body becomes open and expansive
    - the pelvis is stabilised
    - the tendons, ligaments and fascia are stretched
    - the feet are always shoulder-width apart from one another
    - the student reaches to 70% of capacity
    - all actions tie into the centre
    - the purpose of each qigong must be considered
    - strength, martial utility and fitness benefits are amplified significantly
    - there is a lot more squatting; and this promotes a mild cardiovascular workout for certain exercises

     

  4. Stage 4
    - subtle neigong qualities are now incorporated into the qigong exercises
    - the exercises are dismantled in order to fully understand how and why they work
    - advanced biomechanical features are explored thoroughly

Each stage is significantly more mentally demanding than the previous one and there are no shortcuts.
Seeking to force a result will lead to injury and incorrect practice.
The body needs time to re-grow and change, the nervous system must be attuned, and the mind settled.


Perseverance


Qigong gets easier with practice.
Your body becomes conditioned and you no longer notice the difficulty.

Students who train regularly at home find that the exercises become ingrained quite rapidly. They gain a fantastic sense of relaxation and feel energised. Their bodies also become far stronger and resilient.
When you feel good, it is easy to exercise. You want to exercise.
 

To bear that which you think you cannot bear is really to bear.

 (Nitobe)

Results

Qigong is exercise.
It should be gently challenging, improve skeletal alignment, work your muscles and tangibly affect your fitness.
Feeling good is not enough. Expect significant results.
Be prepared to practice weekly in class and between classes at home.


100 days

We propose 100 days of daily consecutive qigong training for a beginner.
No days off. No respite. No lies. No excuses.
Day after day after day of training. This will lay the foundation.
It could be as little as 15 minutes a day.
After 100 days you should be fitter.
The habit of training each day will be ingrained.


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Page created 3 March 2016
Last updated 05 August 2017