A set of exercises to relax the body, calm the mind and stimulate one’s natural energy.
The Syllabus of the T'ai Chi Centre
Stage one of The T’ai Chi Centre’s syllabus is Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing’s Yang style Short Form. This form is simplified T’ai Chi, yet it contains all of the basic principles of T’ai Chi and is regarded as the foundation for further studies - it takes just ten minutes to practise and is ideal for beginners and busy people.
The form is learnt gradually, posture by posture, and by working from the mind through natural movements of the body we learn to understand relaxation, to interpret energy and to apply this knowledge to our everyday life. The short form is taught in five ten-week terms.
Various forms of Pushing Hands are taught throughout the syllabus at The T’ai Chi Centre. Pushing hands is the part of T’ai Chi that allows us to work on the principles in relation to another person, it is the foundation of learning to understand energy from sources outside oneself. By letting go of external strength the body gradually learns to soften and yield, the mind follows suit by becoming more open and flexible, we gain insights into ourselves and our relationship to the world.
Pushing hands teaches us about different aspects of Yin and Yang - we learn to deal with force by using softness, it is a way of being strong and effective without becoming hard and tense.
The Long Form
After learning the Short Form, we move on to study Yang Cheng-fu’s traditional Long Form, where more subtle aspects of T’ai Chi are investigated.
Principles introduced in the short form are revised and expanded, greater emphasis is placed on quietening down the stirring mind and listening to energy. Students are encouraged to make all of their movements softer, more circular and expansive, by letting go of tension, throwing open the joints and rounding out their postures. Familiarity with sinking and relaxing grows, the chi becomes stronger and more settled, stillness within movement gradually transforms the practise.
The Ta Lu is a form of partner-work with active stepping and dynamic yielding. With practice we develop an intuitive and energetic sense of space and distance with regard to another. We shall be exploring spirals (silk-reeling), the 5 ‘elements’ - step forward, step back, look left, look right, central equilibrium. Also the 4 ‘corners’ - pull-down, split, elbow, shoulder. Combined with the 4 ‘sides’ of pushing-hands we have the 13 postures/energies of T’ai Chi.
The Special Form is a mirror or ‘left -side’ of the long form which contains variations and revisions of the original postures. It is at this stage of the syllabus that students are introduced to the principles of spiral energy or silk cocoon jing.
The circular movements cultivated in the long form are gradually transformed into continues spirals which permeate the entire body and energy. Initially these spirals are external and exaggerated but over time they become more natural, subtle and internalised. The Power Training cultivates intrinsic energy and commences when students have developed a deeper understanding of sinking and relaxing. Through the practise of standing, grinding, pressing, and firing, the root strengthens and the whole body’s energy is developed as one unit - we then learn to yield the mind from a firm foundation and to issue energy naturally and freely from the ground.
The Dance is performed by two people and consists of two different forms that interweave harmoniously with each other. Both forms are initially learnt and practised solo with each posture of the form reaching completion. When the two forms are combined and practised with a partner none of the postures reach completion.The principles behind many different martial applications are examined, as well as various permutations of receiving and issuing energy.
The principles behind many different martial applications are examined, as well as various permutations of receiving and issuing energy. Every posture of the body has a corresponding mental posture and every mental posture reflects a certain disposition of spirit.
When practicing with a weapon one’s intrinsic energy is projected into that weapon, transforming the essentially inanimate object into a lively and natural extension of our energy. Narrow-blade sword, sabre and staff are all part of the T’ai Chi Centre syllabus, practise with each weapon cultivates a particular disposition of spirit associated with that weapon. Weapons training begins when students are proficient in the empty hand forms.
Heartwork is currently wordless.