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In Tai Chi, when we refer to the waist, we mean the entire area from the hips up to the belly button. Watch a pro golfer. Or a pro baseball player at bat. Or a basketball player doing a crossover. Their power comes from the hips. The waist is what allows us to deliver power in Tai Chi Chuan. If the whole weight of the body is over the right leg, then the right leg is solid, and the left leg is empty. If the whole weight is over the left leg, then the left leg is solid, and the right leg is empty.

When empty and solid can be differentiated, movement becomes agile, as if effortless.

Lessons 1-5: Yang Forms: Run through - iTai Chi for Life

If not, then your movements become heavy, and stances are unstable and can be easily exploited by the opponent. I joke with students that if they can walk, then they can learn to differentiate between empty and solid. And the real trick is to keep the waist loose see Essential 3 while differentiating between empty and solid. It takes practice, but in my experience, almost anyone can learn to do it. If the shoulders are not sunken, but raised, then qi rises and the whole body will lack power. If the elbows are raised, the shoulders will not sink, and the flow of qi will not be far-reaching.

My comments: Just relax! As a result, the shoulders rise a bit, and the elbows flare out. This is a telltale sign that you are not relaxed. Even if one hand is above the shoulders for example, see the pattern White Crane Spreads Wings , you can still drop the shoulder and sink the elbow! When you relax, when you sink the shoulders and drop the elbows, then the qi will flow more easily. There must not be even one ounce of strength in the sinews, bones, and blood vessels, or it will result in self-restriction.

When you have attained complete relaxation, you are able to be flexible and agile in your movements. You will be able to move freely any easily.

If the channels are not blocked, water flows smoothly. Similarly, if the meridians are not blocked, qi flows harmoniously. If the whole body is tense with strength, qi and blood flow are blocked, and movements become awkward.

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Even if you pull a hair, the whole body moves. If you use will instead of strength, then wherever your will directs it, the qi will follow. Thus, you must have your qi and blood flowing smoothly every day, all over your body, without interruptions at any time. If you do this persistently, then you will develop true inner strength.


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For those who are trained in external martial arts, they are powerful when they use strength, but light and floating when they do not. Using strength without using will easily results in instability, which is not a complete art. This is a long one! Where the yi goes, the qi will flow.


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  • But if your muscles are tense, and more importantly, if your mind is tense — then the qi will not flow. This gets us into a discussion about internal strength nei jin , which is beyond the scope of this article. Hand movements, waist movements, leg movements, and even the eye movements — all are in one unified movement.

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    Only this can be said to be top and bottom coordination. If there is one movement lacking, if there is any interruption, the unified movement becomes disorderly. Imagine that your car dies, and you have to push it out of the road. Do you push it with your arms, or your legs?

    Actually, you push it with a coordinated effort between the legs, which do most of the work, and the arms, which deliver the effort of the legs. Instead, your power should come from the legs, up through your hips, and then out through your hands. Like the analogy of pushing a car, the hands only act to deliver the power of the legs.

    What is tai chi?

    My arms will never be as strong as theirs. But what about my legs? When I coordinate top and bottom, when I make full use of my legs — then I can punch and block with surprising power. This is one of the reasons why I think Tai Chi Chuan is the perfect art for women. What applies to me as a small-sized man also applies to women. It plays to our internal strengths rather than our external weaknesses.

    Manual Tai Chi For Life - Advice From a Novice

    Tai Chi Chuan patterns are none other than movements of solid and real, opening and closing. By opening is meant not only the hands and legs are extended; by closing is meant not only that the hands and legs brought back — but also that the mind and will are brought back. If the internal and the external can be united into one qi, it means there is no separateness in the cosmos. A violinist can play all of the notes perfectly, and yet still lack soul or spirit. The notes are there, and yet the music does not move the soul.

    To be a great violinist, you must play all the notes AND play with spirit. According to traditional Chinese medicine, when yin and yang come together they create a dynamic inner movement.

    Tai chi, considered a soft or internal form of martial art, has multiple long and short forms associated with the most popular styles taught: Wu, Yang, and Chen named for their originators. Plenty of people practice the faster, more combative forms that appear to resemble kung fu, but the slower, meditative movements are what many in the United States—where the practice has gained ground during the last 25 years—commonly think of as tai chi. And although few formal medical-economic analyses have been conducted, tai chi appears to be relatively cost-effective.

    One study on the immune response to varicella-zoster virus which causes shingles suggested in that tai chi may enhance the immune system and improve overall well-being in older adults. Older people with thinning bones are at very high risk for fractures; a fall related to hip fracture, for example, is associated with a 20 percent increase in mortality within one year and very high medical costs.

    Studies conducted in Asia have reported that tai chi may benefit women with thinning bones. This has led Wayne and his colleagues to pursue another current research project—a randomized controlled trial with post-menopausal women diagnosed with osteopenia that examines bone density markers as well as computerized motion analysis to quantify how tai chi affects weight-bearing in the skeleton.

    In typical drug trials, a well-defined chemical compound targets physiological systems, and outcomes can be measured against placebo controls. We cannot conceivably teach tai chi via the web. Also, the topics are aimed at the tai chi novice. Introduction only Our website offers an introduction to topics that are explored within our syllabus: Tao , Zen , tai chi, fitness, meditation and combat.

    Learning Tai Chi Fundamentals

    We do not look at anything in-depth on this site. The website is merely a taster. It offers an overview. If you want to know more, do some research , dig deeper , or better yet - attend some lessons. Bias Not everyone will agree with what we write. So what? We do not expect you to. Every tai chi class has a bias. It is human nature. Instructors have different priorities, they see some things as being important and discard others. This is to be expected. We make no secret of this.

    Your own mind Tai chi is just like everything else in life - there are many differing points of view and no actual consensus regarding the art. Every class has its own ' potted ' version of the truth.