Looking to Check Stances

sci_ill_mirrorSince I don’t often practice taiji in front a mirror, I catch myself looking down to check my stances. I have been corrected on this more than a couple of times from my Chen taiji instructor. He would tell me to try and *feel* the correct alignment instead of looking down to check.

What this ultimately means is I still have difficulty keeping the first point of the 10 essential principles of taiji as noted by Yang Chengfu. That is:

An intangible and lively energy lifts the crown of the head.
This refers to holding the head in vertical alignment, with the spirit threaded to the top of the head. One must not use strength; using strength will stiffen the neck and inhibit the flow of chi and blood. One must have the conscious intent of an intangible, lively, and natural phenomenon. If not, then the vital energy will not be able to rise.

— Source: WhyNaturalHealth – 10 Essentials of Tai Chi Theory

I guess it really means that my basics are not quite there, else why would I need to check my stances? In fact, a bow stance should be ingrained within my body now, but I admit that it’s not. Sometimes, I feel the width of my stance is too narrow or the angle of the rear foot is just not right. Another thing I will check is the angle of my shin in relation to the ground (going for a 90 degree angle here).  Additionally, for some reason, the angle of my rear foot in repulse monkey is never truly *right*…

For some reason, I have a problem with single legged stances. In golden rooster stands on one leg, I often check the alignment of my hips because I will usually sink into the hip of the weighted leg to compensate for my lack of balance resulting in the plane of my hip extending beyond the edge of my foot.  I check for this type of thing in every balance or single legged posture.

Maybe if I practiced in front of a mirror or recorded myself on video more I would not have to check myself during form practice… Anyhoo.. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing as I am more aware of my own shortcomings, but looking to check stances must be rectified if I am to adhere to the first principle and keep my head on tight 🙂

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About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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4 Responses to Looking to Check Stances

  1. RickMatz says:

    Getting corrected over and over and over and over again is part of the learning process. If you could already to it perfectly, then why would you be studying?

  2. Taijiquan in Tampa says:

    I have dealt with this too, what I try to do is limit the looking down to the first run-through of a form, and then do it without looking down the rest of the time. That would be for forms that I am already very familiar with. For new forms, I’m probably staring at the ground most of time, lol. The head thing is quite substantial, though, so it’s probably better to have your stances wrong sometimes than to have your head wrong all of the time. Looking down distorts so many aspects of posture because the head is forward, the chest is back, etc..

    As for the repulse monkey, I was talking with a friend about this movement recently and the thought he came back with was that one heel leaves the ground right as the other heel reaches the ground. Reminded me a little bit of breakdancing “slide” moves where you are rotating the hips and using your toes.. hard to explain, but it ends up making your movements very smooth.

    Mirrors are wonderful, every time I get the chance to practice in front of a wall-length mirror I wish I had a mirror room all to myself.

  3. James Larmore says:

    I agree with your teacher and the others commenting and some of their solutions like doing the forms in front of a mirror. More important IMHO is to start the process of internalizing your form. By this I mean the dialogue between your intent and your movement. I would suggest a few times looking down or checking your form for correctness but then I would add how does it feel when you do it correctly vs incorrectly. Then begin to internalize the feelings of doing the movement correctly without looking down to check. This checking behavior usually comes from having been corrected several times for the same thing and thereby distrusting your ability to do it right without checking.

  4. Pingback: Lessons Learned from Internal Arts IA – Eyes on Opponent | the way of wujimon

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