Wudang Tai Chi
An old saying in Chinese martial arts ‘Tai Chi (Tai Ji) in the world all originated from Wudang’. Tai Chi is an internal training method that was created by the great Daoist priest and immortal, Zhang San Feng at Wudang Mountain. Generally when people discuss “Tai Chi” they are referring to Taijiquan, or the forms practice involved in Tai Chi. However, in Wudang, Taijiquan is considered a part of the greater ‘Tai Chi System’. The Tai Chi System is composed of 3 parts: Wuji, Taiji, and Liang Yi. Each of these three parts contains their own practices, purposes, and methods of training. Although the Tai Chi System is separated into three parts, they are all integrated and complementary to the others.
Wu Ji is another name for ‘nee dan’ (Daoist meditation practice). The practice of Wuji (loosely translated as ‘ultimate emptiness’) is for the cultivation of our three vitalities: Jing (Essence), Qi (Energy), and Shen (spirit). We practice Wuji in order to promote the health of these three vitalities; Wuji is also understood as the road to immortality. In order to become stronger and more robust in our health and our lives, we must strengthen and practice our Jing, Qi, and Shen.
Tai Chi is the balancing interaction of yin and yang. Under the Tai Chi System, Taijiquan is the form that we use to cultivate ourselves and learn to develop and understand feeling in our bodies and how to integrate that into movement. In Taijiquan practice we learn to conceal hardness within the softness of movement and learn to use our breathing through the dantian, and our intention and internal awareness to guide our movement. Contrary to the widespread misconception that Taijiquan is simply a callisthenic exercise for the elderly, it is actually a deep internal practice that requires great dedication and a strong determination.
Liang Yi is the separation of yin and yang. Under the Tai Chi System, Liang Yi quan is for the use of the energy that we have cultivated through our practice. Whereas in Tai Chi Quan we combine the soft and hard, in Liang Yi Quan practice, we separate the soft and hard. The power of Liang Yi Quan is explosive, resembling a bomb detonating; its practice is more for use in practical fighting application. While in Tai Chi quan, all movement is the same speed, with the same balance in softness and hardness at once, Liang Yi quan movement is slow and soft, followed by fast explosive movement, called fali.
Health Benefits of Practicing Tai Chi
The practice of all of the elements that comprise the Tai Chi System can help us to more deeply understand our bodies and minds and learn the methods to make them cleaner, clearer, quieter, and healthier. Tai Chi training teaches us not only to train our muscles, tendons, and bones, but also to train our intention, internal feeling, awareness, and power.
The practice of Tai Chi holds great benefits for those looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional health. Tai Chi practice necessitates and promotes a relaxed and focused mind and emotional state. Those students who suffer from stress and/or emotional imbalance will find that in practicing Tai Chi over time their emotions become more balanced and their overall temperament becomes more peaceful as a result of the practice. This comes about through stronger and more balanced organs (which have great influence over the health and balance of the emotions), strengthened circulation, and focusing on regulating deep dan tian breathing and fluidity in slow movement – all changes that come about naturally through practice.