Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Six Harmonies" start with the core in Classical Tai Chi

The Youtube Video link. On behalf of Edward Hunter regarding his comment on Youtube:

"In Wu Tai Chi the movement starts with the hand. Elbow 
follows hand. Shoulder follows elbow. Hip follows shoulder. 
Foot follows hip. That is the way of natural movement. Chen 
is wrong. Yang is wrong. Wu Tai Chi teached with hands 
following the feet is also wrong."

Dear Mr. Hunter:

 Thank you for the comment.  I see that you are a student/teacher in a "branch" of the Wu Tai Chi style; I am as well. I was also a student in another "branch" for many years.  That branch "turned the hip" as opposed to "turning the waist", they "started movement with the hand" as opposed to "mobilizing the extremeties from the waist". One "branch" within the Wu Style raises their arms very high above their heads, Classical Wu Tai Chi does not do this. I will not argue the point from the perspective that one is right while the other is wrong, I would definitely have my work cut out for me in doing so.

It seems however, you are stating  by implication that if something is natural, eg., “natural movement” then it is somehow good, thus implying that what is unnatural, eg., “unnatural movement” is bad. This characterization of  “natural” presents many problems.    I am sure that even if we agree some things are natural and some are not, what follows from this?  Nothing.  In other words I do not see facts presented to support that what is “natural” movement is good (right)  and what is by implication “unnatural” is bad (wrong).

Stating that  “movement starting with the hand” is true to the extent that (as we already established) some schools even within the same style (Wu in this case) will start the “six harmonies” ( 1)hand follows 2) foot, 3) elbow follows 4) knee, 5) shoulder follows 6) hip by using the hand first. In this case, I see you are from the "Wu" school. I also see that you do not mention the use of the core, the "hands" connection to the core, the foots, the elbow's, etc.

Stating about the “six harmonies” being “wrong” as presented here in Classical Wu Style  however is not sound. Simply stating the premise that “movement” is “wrong” because it is not “natural” does not make or present  facts to make it “wrong”. 

There are however certain observable things that one can take note of: Here, in Classical Wu Tai Chi,  the movement does not start with the hand, it starts with the waist. In using the hand to start first, one is using an extremity of the body and whether in Classical Tai Chi or any Tai Chi it is initially reducing or draining off  some of the power of the movement, as the movement is not initially connected to the core. Tennis players, baseball players, golfers, , etc. make use of an external movement first with the arms/hands then it is connected to the core, presumably for power, once the arc of the swing reaches the proximity of the core.  The act of using the hands/arms first however does not mobilize the core of the body before the fact effectively, for it is the core itself that should be used to mobilize the hands, arms, legs, etc…the extremeties. After all, we are talking about Tai Chi for health and martial purposes and not baseball.

  •  Hand and arm movements in and of themselves are abstract in nature, when not connected to the core of the body they lack strength and cannot move in a relaxed manner.  This to excess in Tai Chi makes hand and arm movement merely extraneous. 
  •  By using the hand first and thus allowing the arms to move independently of the core you are compromising the movement and diffusing the neuromuscular signals for the core of the body to even respond.  
  • By using the hand first you are placing the junction for the delineation of yin and yang (what is moving/ what is not moving) somewhere in the area of elbows or shoulder.  
  • By using the hand first you are creating a disconnect right where the shoulder meets the core.  
  • By using the hand first you are short circuiting and disrupting the flow of “qi”, placing the disruption somewhere in the hand/elbow/shoulder…there is no circuit completion of qi flow through the core to the arm…It only begins in the core when the hand leads the  arm which engages and stretches the shoulder which is of course connected to the core.  In other words it stops then begins at the shoulder.  Qi also going where yi goes.  After a movement from the core however,  the qi should flow to the arms and hands, the majority of internal energy should continue to circulate in the torso until needed. 

Using the hands first in Tai Chi almost sounds like the same way dancers, typists, piano players use their hands. As we said this acts to disrupt the flow of qi between the body and fingers.   Using the core first insures that the localized nerve activity of the hands/arms remains dormant and lets the qi from the body take over.  This is good reason to learn the square form of Tai Chi, so that a practitioner can get used to movements with steady arms and hands without localized nerve impulses.

Wu Chien Chuan (who stayed at Yeung Wabu’s home in Hong Kong circa 1938, with lessons going on night and day) himself told Yeung Wabu:  “Every movement in Tai Chi Form has to have two complementary parts of the body, a moving (yang) part and a stationary part (yin).  When the Yin-Yang junction is located in the torso of the body it is an internal move.  When it is outside the torso, it is an external move.   This is the key to a methodology that enables Tai Chi practitioners to mobilize the core of the body for Tai Chi movements, to generate internal energy and internal energy circulation.  I have done Tai Chi from both sides of the coin, hand first, waist first and the latter is the most powerful.  Try doing this yourself using the waist first and keeping the hand still and you will see the difference in generation of power. 

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