Last night I had a little bit of time before bed and decided to do some taiji. I started with a couple mins of zhanzhuang just to get myself in the mindset. Since I didn’t have too much time I skipped over the silk reeling and went straight to forms practice, but this time I decided to do yang instead of chen! WOW.. did that feel great!
I had a huge rush of flow just doing the first section of the yang long form! It was great! I was feeling the flow, feeling smooth, mind calm and at ease. I’m surprised b/c it takes me at least 2-3 reps of the chen before I get to that point. After 1 section, I decided to do some chen for comparison, and it felt completely different! Things just weren’t flowing as much. Maybe it was the moves? Maybe I was thinking too much?
To me, it felt as if my body was more isolated when doing the chen. For instance, in the opening sequence of buddha warrior, after stepping forward I was thinking about the shifting, then the turning of the waist, strike with the elbow before extending my forearm before the step up. To me, this move started to feel very isolated as if I was just moving my as described above. Perhaps that’s the problem, I was breaking things down too much and thinking about things too much when doing the chen? But then I felt a similar thing even during the lazy tie coat sequence. After the pounding, the turning and opening of the body/arms felt like it was all in my arms, then during the step to the right, turning of the body left and raising the right arm up and then opening, just felt more like an isolated arm movement than a whole body movement as experienced in the yang comparitiave sequence (grasps swallows tail). However, I did feel what I think is sort of like a dynamic tension when doing the chen. It has a more of the “pulling silk” feeling in the lazy tie coat sequence as I felt thread being pulled and it was connected to the left gua and right hand.
All of this kinda sparked on more when a buddy of mine mentioning he realized the genius in yang. That yang is all about the intention, the yi, the mind. The mind intent drives the form. How yang removes the focus on dantien rotation (yang) and focuses purely on the intent (yi) (yang). Then the talks of the taiji classics how soft overcomes hard, not half soft/half hard. I had a similar experience about 6 months ago when I felt that perhaps the chen was just too hard and still more external in nature due to the movements of the form. Just look at the lazy tie coat and the single whip sequence of chen compared to yang. IMO, chen uses more isolated movements, especially that of the arms when executing the sequences. Maybe it’s just my lack of experience/training and that I feel my body is more isolated b/c I haven’t integrated things.
Then I started thinking about taiji from a developmental perspective. Chen -> yang -> wu -> hao. I intentionally left out sun b/c that’s more of a mix of taiji, xingyi, and bagua. But looking from this perspective, with each succession, the form changes and becomes more and more focused on the intention, the yi, the frame, the energetics. Less focus is placed on physical qinna and trapping techniques and more if focused on the sensitivity of whole body awareness. I believe yiquan developed in a similar route and the notion was to focus on the intention and whole body awareness. Perhaps this is an example or evidence of the importance of yi, intention. I’m not really sure what my point is in all of this since I am utterly confused and baffled, but my body, and mind tell me that yang is good. Yang feels good and it makes me feel good. As my buddy noted, perhaps I should listen to my “eternal teacher” and listen to my body and mind for what is right.