Being a somewhat long time practitioner of taiji (7 yrs) and a recent GTD convert, The Connection between GTD and Tai Chi, I never really made the association before between the principle and the form. It’s been drilled into me so many times how the outer form is not as important as understanding the principle. My first instructor once told me, “Do not copy my form, but seek to understand the principle”.
Looking inward, I do often see similarities of the problems I have in the 2 systems.
How many times have I switched tools in GTD? A LOT! I seem to always want to try the new thing, try the new tool, change an existing tool, etc etc, which ultimately leads to not getting things done! This kinda reminds me of the KISASS (KISSASS stands for Keep It Simple, Slacker, And Stop Slacking) principle I recently read about. Quit slacking, quit finding excuses and just do. For GTD, I’ve settled on using the plain vanilla pda approach. This means strictly plain vanilla and no pigpog. This has worked out quite well and I am actually quite happy and content.
Taiji on the other hand is a whole different beast. I’ve often teeter tottered on various approaches. Ohh.. Chen Xiaowang does it this way but Chen Zhenglei does it like this.. or yang sytle does it this way but chen does it like this, etc etc. Joseph chen and kua this way, Chen Xiaowang and structure that way. I recently realized that I ultimately need to focus on principle and doing instead of debating and such. This recently lead to my resurgence of training in zhanzhuang. Getting down to the nitty gritty principle.
This should’ve clicked earlier to me but didn’t b/c during a silk reeling seminar with CXW, I had inquired about my posture of movement during a single handed silk reeling exercises. The first question he asked me was “Where is qi?” “Hand”, I replied. He then proceeded to open my hand a bit more, putting more intention into my hand. He then asked, “where qi go” and I replied, “hand, elbow, waist” and then he guided my hand and stopping at certain points repeating the path, “hand, elbow, waist”. Finally he asked, “Understand?” and I replied, “yes”.
So, it was the principle that guided the movement! The silk reeling seminar really drilled the principle of dantien rotations and qi paths while breaking the movements into 4 counts with the qi at different points. After the seminar, I did click with me he was really emphasizing what he thought was important.
As in GTD, with taiji I’ve come to terms. The importance is the principle, not the external movements but the principles guiding the movements. From what I gathered from CXW’s teachings, the important things are standing (zhanzhuang), silk reeling, and the training of the principles of 3 dantien rotations and qi intention during movements. And lately my practice has reflected that. The first thing I do in my training session is zhanzhuang (15 mins) and then work on at least 8 repitions per side of silk reeling (either single or double) and if I have time and I”m up to it, I will work on form. Last night, I just worked on the first section of the laojia yilu focusing on my central equilibrium and posture within the movements.
So, I don’t really care if I’m on the right path or not or if there is another path that’s better. I know that I am happy and content working on the material that I have and I have a long way to go before perfecting the principles.