Tai Chi Level 2: Electric and Magnetic Energy

In our regular class tonight we experienced the power of two Tai Chi energy expressions, which we call “electric” and “magnetic.” Sigung Richard Clear elaborated on how he came to learn these energetic principles, how they can each be used for push hands and self defense, and how to combine them using a Wudang Mountain technique for extraordinary health benefits.

As with so much in Tai Chi, learning these energies begins with excellent structure, alignment, and relaxation. When you are standing in proper Wu Chi with good alignment (Zhong Ding), and you can hold that structure while staying relaxed (Sung), energy flows naturally. You can check the quality of that energy by bringing your hands together. You should feel an “energy ball” between them without having to do any extra work to make it.

Once you have this energy ball, you should practice moving with it. In Wu Chi you should feel the energy between your hands and your legs. When you can keep the energy on and connected while going through the set, your Tai Chi practice is very strong and healthy.

With a little practice, the quality of this energy can be changed to suit your needs. When you are proper alignment and weight falls closer to the balls of the feet, the energy tends to have an electric quality, like the buzzing of a low voltage current being run through your body. Rocking back toward the heels while keeping structure makes the energy behave more like two magnets coming together. We call this the electric and magnetic energies of Tai Chi.

We know that electricity and magnetism are closely related to each other, and there is a Wudang Mountain practice that allows you to switch between the two expressions by rocking back and forth on the feet. This practice strongly builds this form of internal energy. It can be done in Wu Chi, and should be practiced throughout the Tai Chi form as well.

Once the energy has been built, it can be used to add power and stability while playing Push Hands. Switching between the two expressions adds still another element of power and strategy that is difficult to beat if your partner doesn’t know what you are doing.

In the full class we covered several exercises for building and using these energy expressions

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997

Tai Chi Level 2: Breathe Better

Sigung Richard Clear taught how to use breath incorporated into the whole body to get better connection and power. The key to this is softness (no surprise for Tai Chi players!), letting the breath get infused into the movements.

This principle is used with gentle expansion and contraction/relaxation, along with good shape and structure. When these things are tied together there is an obvious escalation of power without needing any extra tension or force.

In the full class we covered many breathing concepts, including a smooth transition from in to out breaths (and vice versa). We also touched on the importance of breath for health and healing.

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997

Tai Chi Level 2: Keeping Whole-Body Connection in Motion

In tonight’s class, Sigung Richard Clear taught in detail how to maintain internal connections for whole-body power, even while moving. No piece of the body should be moving independently of the rest. Even if some pieces are moving in opposite directions from others, the whole body should be in every action with no separation.

By focusing on “hanging from the string,” as it says in the Tai Chi Classics (or by the bungee cord as Sigung Clear puts it), you can practice whole body connection while moving in the form. If you make sure that you are hanging from the string as you move, it becomes natural and quite easy to maintain the proper internal connections, and you can get whole-body power through every motion.

This video briefly demonstrates one of martial the benefits of moving in this way. There are many other martial and health benefits that come with maintaining this kind of structure.

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997

Tai Chi Level 2: Staying in the Moment

Tonight Sigung Richard Clear gave us a lesson on being present. We are so accustomed to thinking about what we need to do next, where we are going, or what we want to accomplish. Instead of thinking about the destination, if you can keep your mind on what is happening RIGHT NOW you get enormous benefits.

This isn’t some mystical, metaphysical benefit we’re talking about. There may be some of that, too, but we’re talking about adding POWER.

It’s plenty challenging to remain in the moment when you are doing standing practice. It’s even more challenging when you are moving at all. Still, with training and practice, it is possible to stay present even when playing push hands.

In fact, push hands is one of the best ways to develop that skill. Playing against a partner that is doing the same thing will give you instant feedback on how “in the moment” you are (compared to your partner, at least).

All other things being equal, whoever can stay present the best will be the most relaxed and adaptive, and therefore the most powerful pusher. This is something people experience naturally in some circumstances, like a bad car wreck, but it can be learned and it can be applied to Combat Tai Chi.

It may seem esoteric at first, but it is really just an advanced application of basic perceptual psychology, and it’ll add a whole new level to your push hands game. When done right, it’s like being able to manipulate time. At that level you can perceive what someone is going to do before they do it, which would give anyone an advantage in a self defense situation.

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997

Tai Chi Level 2: Martial Uses of Structure and Posture

This week Sigung Richard Clear taught in depth about the Tai Chi core concepts of alignment. Staying soft while keeping proper structure is one of the (seemingly) illusive principles of Tai Chi. By straightening and lengthening the spine and keeping good balance, power increases tremendously. There are also stronger and weaker alignments through the limbs. When everything is working together, structure is effortless. When even one piece is out of alignment, structure collapses.

In this class we demonstrated that proper alignment improves stability. Maintaining straightness and central equilibrium increases resistance to pushes. When the arm’s integrity is good as well, it makes your pushes stronger. If alignment is out at any point, however, it becomes easy to collapse, send out, or topple an opponent. As the misaligned person tries to reclaim a solid position, he actually pushes himself out.

Like everything else in the art of Tai Chi, pushing is a beginning training method and a way to safely demonstrate the benefits. When the skill is mastered, the same will apply to taking and giving hits. This is something you will want to work thoroughly while doing your form as well as while playing Push Hands.

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997

Tai Chi Level 2: Rocking and Rolling Action for Absorbing and Projecting

Tonight Sigung Richard Clear demonstrated the martial uses of Rocking and Rolling for self defense. This technique allows you to absorb and project the mass of an attacker while remaining in motion the entire time.

In previous classes we have covered turning and shifting for absorbing and projecting. Tonight’s lesson focuses on putting it all together in a three dimensional way. By adding this “rock and roll” action to the mix, it adds deceptive power to any turning or shifting you are doing.

You can see this training is very powerful. This video is just a recap of our class.

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997

Tai Chi Level 2: Internal “Pulleys” for Tai Chi

Tonight Sigung Richard Clear demonstrated the use of a visualization technique for improving your Tai Chi form. Proper Tai Chi employs whole body power at all times, but there are a few movements in the forms that require a little more coordination to make that happen.

By picturing that parts of your body are connected to other parts, the coordination of those motions becomes much easier. The result is that power dramatically increases through the forms, and the Tai Chi principles of balance and structure remain intact throughout. Sigung Clear demonstrates the power of this with one of the students in this clip.

The imagery can even be used to enhance simpler motions, as Sigung Clear demonstrated in class. Even when the whole body is moving in one direction, the motion can be more refined if you picture it being pulled that way. Once the movements become natural with this method, the visualization should be dropped so that this way of moving becomes like second nature.

To begin your training visit us at 113 East Broadway, Maryville, TN or call 865-379-9997