Thursday, April 21, 2011

Posture 1: The Preparation Posture

Tàijí qǐ shì 1) The Preparation Form is traditionally thought of as Taijiquan’s “beginning” form, since it is done while standing  on two legs while raising your arms to the front and up.  It is a move that is familiar to students of all styles of Taijiquan.  As such it seems to generate little challenge to students once they feel they have learned the external portion.The characters for Tàijí qǐ shì or “The Preparation Form” are figurative and therefore do little to describe how to do the movement.
The character for qǐ is  

It implies a “beginning” and it does so by the portion of the character that looks like an individual in movement but the other portion is representative of “oneself”.  The individual is in movement but oneself is the entity that initiates the movement, it does not come from outside oneself but is an inner physical movement.  It is indicative of external  physical movement that is directed by internal movement.
Be  Because practitioners in this time are impatient, the movement gets bypassed in the zeal to learn other things. I think in part this is due to a misunderstanding of how to do the movement correctly and subsequently not to enjoy its practice.  As with any of the postures in Classical Tai Chi one needs to first follow the instructions on internal discipline.  In this case, there is a moving (Yang) part of the body which is the upper torso and a stationary part (Yin) which is the lower portion below the waist. The Yin-Yang junction is at the waist.  We won’t dwell on the instructions here except to emphasize a couple important points that one should prepare before execution.   This is after all called the “Preparation Form”.
  • ·         Insure that the tailbone is tucked in from the very start.
  • ·         Insure that elbows are rotated to point downward.
  • ·         Stand with body aligned.
  • ·         Use “Yi” intent to not only lift the arms but to stabilize the feet downward.
  • ·         When using “internal discipline” from the waist to lift the arms, keep the knees bent and do not stand up.
  • ·         Try practicing the movement by itself, uncoupled from other postures, practice it as a “silk reeling” exercise.  You may also wish to practice it as a “Qigong” but go much slower and sync it to the breath.

  • ·         Do not push out the rear end while doing it but keep the rear end under you, just moving from the waist, this is part of keeping the body and feet stable. To test whether you are pushing out the rear, try practicing with your back close to a wall.  You will feel the rear touch the wall behind you if it is being pushed backward.

·         Part of the martial intent of the movement has Peng (ward off or even punch) and another portion of the movement has An (push downward).  Your “Yi” should encompass that as well.  The rising portion (with the fingers drooped and wrist bent) could be used to generate a burst of power strike with back of wrists (Peng) to the soft tissue of the neck under the jaw.  The raised hands can be used to deflect an opponents strike.  The downward motion could be used to deflect an opponents strike with An or push down using the palms.  The list of applications is not all inclusive. 


Rick said...

I can tell what the quality of the whole form will be from the Preparation Posture. If my mind is in the wrong place, if I'm in a hurry, it's not going to go well.

Barry Horton said...

The "devil is in the detail" and as you said, it's very easy to just go through this motion with out really focusing on the internal component of this begining movement which sets into motion the entire form. If one falls to focus on the internal at the begining then one will surely fail to focus on it through out the form. So it is imperative to focus on this very important "preparation" detail. I have often just done this prepartion with out much thought that will change. Thank you Sifu