Qualities of Taijiquan Shared Among the Various Styles

There are significant differences between the different styles of taiji, and even two teachers of the same styles may be known to teach quite differently.  Regardless of the style or lineage of the taiji practiced, all forms of taiji share certain characteristics and mindfulness of these qualities ensures that your practice is beneficial to your health and development.

Taiji Practitioner Practicing Xingyi in the Mountains

Below is a simplified description of several qualities that are shared among styles of taijiquan.

  • The body is relaxed without being limp.
  • The mind is focused and open.
  • The entire body moves together.  If the hand is in motion, so is the ankle.
  • Breathing is natural, even, unrestricted.
  • The head is lifted.
  • The spine is vertical.
  • Weight distribution is clear: feet are place on the ground with no weight, and weight is smoothly applied and the body shifts.
  • You are at peace, without any tension.
While the combination of these qualities is a description of basic taiji practice, these qualities also appear in other practices:
  • Still meditation: seated meditation, like Shikantaza of Soto Zen, or standing meditation like Universal Post share the qualities of the relaxed, vertical body, focused and unrestricted mind, unrestricted breathing and experience of peace.
  • Walking meditation: empty stepping and the clear, smooth shifting of the weight in taiji is expressed in kinhin, the slow walking practice that alternates with seated meditation in Zen practices.
  • Qigong:  as Master Li Junfeng who teaches Shengzhen Qigong worldwide explains, the beneficial Qigong state is when the body is relaxed, the mind is quiet and the breathing is slow.
In learning taiji, more benefit is gained from expressing these qualities in a couple of moves–or even a simple walking drill–than it is to practice an entire form without these qualities.  Health benefits also arise from experiencing these qualities throughout the day while engaged in other activities.

For the basic guidelines for correct taiji practice, click here.

For further discussion, or for instruction in Guang Ping Taijiquan, click here or call Michael at 512-791-3296.

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