TaiChi Today covers the Key for Commencing Position and it’s pretty cool. Often time, I’ve heard of instances where Chen Xiaowang will remain in the commencing position for literally MINUTES before starting his form. When I trained in wushu, I was taught to remaining in commencing position until I was “ready to begin”, it’s a position of focusing, relaxing, preparing, commencing…
I really enjoy Point 4 in the entry:
(4) Centralize your thought
Soon the attention concentrates on to your body. When inhale, pay your attention to the place you left focus from last time, started from chest (Tan Zhong region), when exhale, your thought is going from chest to abdomen median line downward until to your dan tian region. Repeat 3 ~ 5 breathes (In Chinese Medicinal Theory, Qi moves about 3 inches with each breathing!). Then maintains the attention at the Dan Tian region, this is called hold the spirit to Dan Tian. The student should try to feel the subtle changes on the Dan Tian, and stay as long he can maintain.
Often, I’ve just “done it” but not really know exactly what I’m doing when I try to relax or gound myself during this posture. When I was studying Liuhebafa under the Wai Lun Choi camp, he advocated doing the “commencing position” roughly 3 times, this included the arm movements! Great detail went into the breathing and when “lifting” the arms, what joints in the back (3 of them) opened/closed. It was really nice to get into this type of thinking just during the commencing posture.
Then under my chen instruction, instruction regarding dantien rotation was added to the mix. Basically, during the commencing posture, I was told the body is continually sinking ever so slightly. And with this sinking involved a backward-over-under type of dantien rotation in conjunction with the arm movements.
It’s really quite amazing how much depth and detail can go into a physically simply appearing posture like the commencing position. Just imagine how much detail and correction could go into a posture like ward off, or single whip!