4 Responses to “Taiji”

  1. Don Edwards says:

    Hi, (sorry this is a bit long)
    Very interesting information on Taiji.
    I do a form called Taoist Tai Chi (Yang style) and also considering taking up Chen style.

    My progress has been slow, at 70yo, but now researching turning hips/waist as in my form we are often told to “square the hips”. Many sites though talk about turning the waist not the hips (or controlling everything from the waist). My dilemma is that I can see how to turn the hips and shoulders, which can ‘twist’ the waist but I cant see how to actually turn the waist other than by it following the hips.

    One site I contacted said that it was a translation error and that when in Chinese it says ‘waist’ it really meant ‘hips’. Another said no, it literally meant the waist and talked about all the muscles involved in the waist area (but not how to apply to Tai Chi turning).

    So I am hoping you can throw some light on this for me please.
    Thanks in advance.

    Don Edwards

  2. Don says:

    Don Edwards,

    There is a difference between the waist and the hip. The waist refers to a higher part of the body than the hip. The waist usually refers to the narrowest part of the body or at or slightly above the navel, while the hip usually refers to a lower part of the body, around the buttock area and often is the widest part of the body (except for people with very big stomach). See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waist%E2%80%93hip_ratio.

    Turning or rotating the waist refers to turning all the parts of the body around that part of the body at or slightly above the navel, including the muscles in the back of the body on both sides of the spinal cord. Since the spinal cord ends slightly above the buttock area (see http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.apparelyzed.com/_images/content/spine/spinenerves.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.apparelyzed.com/spinalcord.html&h=587&w=595&sz=63&tbnid=3O4lv-q8p5q1dM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=94&zoom=1&usg=__nQBKWkgKReScZ1sCia-jQeHEcxo=&docid=Ym9H4K-NFK-frM&sa=X&ei=ECupUt2XK-z_yQHh9oCABw&sqi=2&ved=0CDcQ9QEwAQ), when you turn or rotate your hips does not exercise the muscles around the spinal cord as much as turning or rotating around the waist.

    Therefore, in Taijiquan it is better to say to rotate your waist, instead of to rotate your hips, because you also want to exercise and to strengthen the muscles around the spinal cord.

    Also, in Taiji, when you punch with your hand, you want to add the momentum of the rotation of your body to the power of the punch from your hand. If you are standing up, when you rotate your body and also shift the weight from one foot to the other foot, both the waist and the hips are rotating. However, if you are sitting down and punch with your hand, you can rotate your waist with no or only little rotation of the hips. Therefore, if you are sitting down and you want to rotate your body, you should say rotate your waist, instead of to rotate your hip.

    So rotating your waist involves exercising more muscles in your body than rotating your hips. That is why in Taijiquan, it is more correct to say rotate your waist, instead of rotate your hips.

    I hope this helps.

    Don Tow

  3. Joe Eber says:

    Hi Don,

    I just read your article in Tai Chi magazine and I completely agree with you. I’ve been studying tai chi for 35 years. I studied the Wu style with Sofia Delza for over 10 years and the Yang style for about 10 years with various people (overlapping with the Wu style). For the past 20 years I’ve been studying tai chi and bagua with Ting Kuo-Piao (William Ting) in Burlington, NJ. After studying for all these years, I still feel like a beginner because I realize how much more there is and how much deeper I can go. Having invested so many years in tai chi, it as “my art” (as opposed to music or painting) I would very much like to see the art popularized and spread to more people. My biggest concern is that there are not many teachers who know and can teach the depth of tai chi, especially the martial art aspect. My fear is that as has happened already, the more popularized it becomes, the more diluted it becomes. For example, some variations of the Yang style have become unrecognizable from their origin. The push hands that we see today is all grabbing, pushing and pulling using arm strength and not tai chi principles. The intrinsic idea of circular movements have been replaced with linear moves. The practice of tai chi as a moving, flowing river has been replaced with stop and start postures. And, so, my fear is that in 20 years, tai chi will be practiced only as external moves, similar to a meditative dance, without any of the internal substance that differentiate tai chi from dance or other martial arts. It’s an interesting conundrum.

  4. Very interesting study. This is the first time reading about Taiji and it certainly seems like an amazing way to help you teach your mind and body to become one. I have a friend who has practiced Tha Chi for many years and seems very in tune with nature and himself.

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