After reading Tai Chi Blog: Lower Your Cholesterol and Heal Your Heart I started thinking about the whole middle finger thing. I’ve always kinda had an issue with the shape of my hands during form execution. While it sound trivial, I think it makes a huge difference. I think a lot of it stems from my wushu days where the hands were very tense and held in certain positions, however with taiji, things are a bit different.
How important is the shape of one’s hands during training? I think it’s very important, but not only that, the shape of the wrist is also very important. I’ve run into few styles/trainings that actually discuss the shape of the hand. My first occurence was when I did some yang taiji via the TT Liang camp, they advocated the “fair maiden’s palm”. You can see what the palm shape looks like by seeing photos of Cheng Man Ching on the comparative study page.
At first, I had a big problem with this concept as I my palm/wrist shape was more similar to that of Yang Zhenduo. But now, I’m starting to realize the importance of the shape of the wrists and the palms. Then in one of my other classes, I was told the shape of the palms should be similar to the shape when you put your palms on the back of your thighs. I actually like this as it really opens the palm region and creates a natural curve.
Now, I’m working on a concept there the palm should be empty in the middle (similar to the shape of the thighs curve) with emphasis placed on the middle finger and a slight intention of the pinkie and thumb wanting to meet each other. Doing this kind of intentional work on my palms has really added another layer to my own training. In addition, the wrists should not be locked or too rigid. The wrists should be like they are during zhanzhuang, which is a relaxed sort of straight line. The above is like an interesting mesh of the fair maiden’s palm structure and that of the rigid pile stacking finger curvatures I’ve seen.