Style of Tai Chi
What style of Tai Chi
does the Tai Chi Study Center teach and practice?
Most call it Cheng style after Cheng Man-ch’ing.
However, the tai chi principles and their application to daily life,
along with the ch’i kung and mental concentrations,
are more important than the external, physical form.
It was Prof. Cheng’s leadership as a medical doctor
that opened Tai Chi and its soft, “internal” training to all,
regardless of athletic prowess or interest in physical self defense.
He emphasized the importance of building health and wellness
and specified that Tai Chi was the best exercise for women and the vital yin energy.
Tai Chi is a spirit / heartmind / energy / body
learning tool and resource, always available.
Although the Cheng Man-ch’ing style is sometimes called the “37 posture Yang short form” (he developed this form in the late 1930s while teaching at the Whangpo Military Academy), it is not to be confused with the later, short forms (e.g., the 24 posture form, the 48 posture form, etc.) that Communist Chinese government committees concocted for competitions.
Tournaments turn Tai Chi into just another external display
(like dancing with the stars or ice skating, etc.)
viewed from the outside with winners and losers and judges and politics, etc.
Prof. Cheng wrote that “The chief technique of Tai Chi
is the heart/mind and ch’i together in the tan t’ien.”
(“Thirteen Treatises”, by Cheng Man-Ch’ing, translated by Lo and Inn, page 59)
This puts the emphasis upon
the special, indeed essential, elements of Tai Chi,
i.e., the heart/mind and the energy harmonized
and not upon mere, external, physical display.
Learning the physical form is the “alphabet” and is only the beginning.
Learning the basic movements allows you to begin
the process that makes Tai chi special,
the patient, mental concentrations used to detect and direct one’s electrical energy.
Ideally, at some point, the physical form recedes in emphasis
as the energy/mental elements emerge more.
It is not how many forms one knows,
but rather how well one knows a form
and how well the form has been used
to deepen detection and direction
of qi (energy/breath) and xin (heart/mind).
Also, it is manifestation, to at least some degree,
of the Tai Chi principles in daily life,
that is the true test of one’s Tai Chi playing.
It is the awareness gained from Tai Chi playing,
i.e., from paying attention to the physical form,
the energy work and the correct mental concentrations
that offer major opportunities for benefits to daily life.
And having lots of fun along the way is, well, fundamental.
From the TC Classics
“The mind leads the energy, the energy leads the body.”
“T’ai Chi hinges entirely upon the player’s consciousness…”
Photo: North River, Hampshire County, West Virginia.
Photo by Warren D. Conner, copyright, 2017, all rights reserved.