There are many approaches to the practice of Taijiquan. Here are a few
- health exercise
- confidence building
- energy development
- meditative movement
- martial art
- spiritual practice
This article is a response to a question I was recently asked, “What or who do you think about when visualising martial applications in a Solo Form practise?”
There are two answers to this: One is physical, the other energetic. They can both be applied to any Form, whether empty hand or using a weapon.
When playing a Form it can be useful to visualise an opponent. This gives a certain degree of definition to the shape of each movement. At this level of practice I visualise an opponent of exactly the same shape and size as myself, in other words a replica of myself, so as not to distort my postures by over or under reaching.
The fact that it is an 'opponent' (something opposed to the move I'm making) can easily create unnecessary mental and/or physical tension, thereby giving an opportunity to deepen my conscious awareness. The more clearly I can visualise 'myself' as the opponent, the easier it is to see 'him' as the embodiment of my negativities/ego. Then each time I strike or cut I can visualise the ego becoming less, the negativities being chipped away. But this cannot be done with any kind of aggression as it would only create more tension and negativity. Intention and clarity need to be underpinned by the fundamental principles of calmness and relaxation. This way of practising in turn leads towards the second answer...
This is a much deeper level of practice, more subtle, more internal, more meaningful, and more difficult to put into the written word.
At this level it's about ebb and flow, receive and reply, yin and yang (Taiji in action). Here I am creating an oncoming force through feeling rather than thinking. Unlike the Physical method where it's a visualised body or limb coming towards me, this is an energetic movement through the air, like a current moving through water only more subtly through the air. As the current comes close enough it will influence my energetic space (life-force field) and I allow that to stimulate a returning wave of energy that, in turn, moves my body into the next posture.
To feel this process requires a deeper level of relaxation which allows a softer focus of attention (receptive, yin), enabling a sharper focus of intention (active, yang).