“In the beginning was Nothingness, Out of Nothingness came a random thought. A thought caused a movement within the stillness that generated infinite ripples, Movement gave rise to Qi, vital breath. Breath congealed into the five elements – metal, water, wood, earth, fire – symbolic of matter. Then this chaos became organized by Yin and Yang. Breathing knew inhalation and exhalation, the universe was ordered according to duality; for only in the interaction and tension between polar opposites could movement and evolution arise.”
This is the beginning of Tai Ji (or in Western spelling Tai Chi). With our Western mind it is hard to understand the concept of Nothingness, Everything, duality and Qi. Why should everything in the world be understood in terms of duality? What does Qi mean?
Tai Ji is more than just some health exercises or a martial art. It’s a whole philosophy, a totally different way of thinking. Once you start doing Tai Ji you start at the tip of the iceberg, but there is a huge mountain hidden underneath it. A mountain that is not easy to climb down. Most of it stays hidden, or is so difficult to understand with our Western mind.
The focus of Tai Ji is not on your hands or legs, it’s on your hips and Dantian. Dantian is your energy (Qi) centre, which lies more or less 2 thumbs under your navel. When you practice Tai Ji you have to focus your mind on your Dantian and send the energy (Qi) from there to other parts of your body and send it back to your Dantian. This simple concept (at least for the Chinese) is already so difficult to grasp for us. How can we feel that we are sending our Qi from our Dantian to the correct bodypart?? My teacher always told me that I am sending my Qi only to my knees and never the whole way down to my feet, so I put too much pressure on my knees and my feet are not grounded. For years, I had no idea what he was talking about. Now, I start to understand… I think (!?) Who can ever tell but a real Tai Ji master if you have enough Qi and if it is flowing through your body?
All this makes Tai Ji very interesting. You never stop learning. You can never say that you know 1 form really well. It takes years of practice to learn a form in detail and to connect all the details together: your hips have to be flexible, your whole body should be relaxed, but your legs should be firm, your breathing should connect your movements, your hands have to be open, but not too open, and so on, and so on,…
I would recommend everyone to start their own journey into Tai Ji and feel for yourself how you get to know your body all over again in a different way!