What Are Principles in Taiji?

I got a comment from Cindy asking:

mmm….What are the basic principles of Taiji?

Initially, I pointed her to a listing of Yang Cheng Fu’s 10 Essential Principles.  But after thinking about this question for a bit, I started to ask myself, what IS a principle and why is it categorized as such?

Dictionary.com defines principle as:

a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived: the principles of modern physics.

The thing I like about this definition is how it related to OTHER things. Personally, I feel that if something is a principle, then it should be universally applicable to other situations.

Additionally, the CEO of AOL, Jonathon Miller noted:

… Taiji is applicable to many facets of life and work.

… Taiji principles hold a universal quality that impacts areas beyond martial arts.

… If these principles apply here, they should apply to other areas. If it is a true principle, it should apply in other places. That’s one of the tests of a true principle.”

Source: Taiji Principles for Business and Life by Stephan Berwick for Kung Fu Magazine

This reminds me of a teaching from my first chinese martial arts instructor. He basically told me not to copy his external form, but try to understand the underlying principles and essence of his movement.  But what does this really mean?

I received another comment on the blog from ZenMindSword:

… having a goal is good but the goal should not be to practice. it should be to realize the principles of taiji.

What are the principles of taiji and are they universally applicable? Are these principles those defined by Yang Cheng Fu?

One of the key principles in Taoism is the concept of balance or harmony between yin and yang. This extends to the ideas of full and empty (YCF Principle #4), internal and external (YCF Principle #8), hard and soft.  This common Taoist principle of harmony and balance was used to derive at least two of the 10 principles by YCF. Does that make it a universally applicable principle?  How do we realize the principles of taiji? What does “realize” truly mean?

[tags]taiji, principles, ycf[/tags]

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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3 Responses to What Are Principles in Taiji?

  1. cindy says:

    Good point. After you sent me the 10 principles, I read them, saved the link and read them again. I read them somewhere else before but I don’t remember where. To me, they are the instructions how to do Taiji. I accept the principles in Taoism regarding the harmony between yin and yang but don’t know how to apply it in my practices and life. Maybe I’ve alread done it but I just have not realized it.

  2. Pingback: wujimon » Finding Taiji in Everyday Life

  3. J-Man says:

    A principle is a basic truth a standard of right or moral behavior.
    Major principles of thought to integrate while learning taijiquan and qigong are……
    Respect
    Humility
    Positive attitude
    Honesty
    Openness
    Perseverance
    Confidence
    Patience
    Determination
    Dexterity

    Principles of movement to follow while practicing taijiquan are
    1. Straighten the head while doing all of the movements. Gently lift from the crown so the body feels light.
    2. Use the mind to direct the flow of the internal energy (The force of the chi flow) to move stagnate energy and or blockages in the meridian system. Release it by expressing it through the hands feet and skin. Do not use muscle power.
    3. Focus on the importance of smooth flowing continuous movement while executing the forms.
    4. Co-ordinate your breath with the upper and lower body and move with intent.
    5. Be clear about your weight distribution in the solid and empty stance.

    As you learn how to follow these principles while practicing Taijiquan, your skill in executing the forms will improve creating harmony wholeness balance and unification of the forms.

    Philosophy of Taijiquan

    ‘Living in harmony with nature’ is the basic philosophy and fundamental belief of taijiquan. The ancient wisdom and knowledge found as one practices the forms are believed to be the primary principle of all things.

    Creation and evolution
    Tai ji is born of Wu-ji or the ultimate nothingness. This nothingness is the origin of dynamic and static states and the mother of yin and yang. If they move they separate. If they remain static they combine.

    Yin and Yang symbolism
    This symbol is in the form of a circle divided into light and dark aspects. This represents the yin (dark) and yang (light) concepts. These reflect opposite attributes such as yin female and yang male. Activity yang and inactivity yin. Softness yin and firmness yang. Positive yang and negative yin. Creative yin and destructive yang.

    Integration
    The yin yang diagram illustrates two opposites harmonized into one whole integrated and interrelated unit which represents a state of balance. Through the complimentary interaction of yin and yang spring the five elements of fire water earth wood and metal.

    Taijiquan
    The aim of the movements and energy found in taijiquan combine both relaxation and awareness in an interactive way to create wholeness harmony and a state of balance of the yin and yang energies.

    Chinese philosophy in working out the proper combinations of yin and yang in taijiquan the student will find a guide in Confucianism (yang) and Taoism (yin) two of the major schools of Chinese philosophy.

    1) Confucian philosophy based on the teachings of Confucius emphasizes moderation in all things and living according to set predetermined standards rules clear moral values and ethical behaviors that can be seen in the linear thinking of western and in the development of notions and proportions.
    2) Taoist philosophy based on the teachings of Lao Tzu emphasizes the belief that continuous change is necessary for life. This makes any rigid standard for behavior inappropriate.

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