The role of qigong in the internal martial arts

Taijiquanbaguazhang and xingyiquan use forms to practice combat movements, build strength and gain agility.
The forms are highly intricate, with many different levels of skill.

Yiquan (mind fist)/dachengquan (the great accomplishment) - an offshoot of xingyiquan - does not use forms.
Instead, it uses static standing qigong postures in lieu of form.

Xingyiquan uses form(s) for power development.
Dachengquan uses standing qigong.
See the difference?

What should a tai chi school do?The answer is somewhat self evidentisn't it?
Taijiquan is not dachengquan.
It uses forms, not standing qigong postures.
Read The Tai Chi Classics... There is no mention of standing qigong but a whole lot of information about movement.


5 stages

There are 5 stages to learning any form:

(i) The pattern

The outline, the sequence of movements.
This stage of learning is often called 'the square form' because it is crude and largely inaccurate.
The form is practiced slowly.

Unfortunately, most tai chi people only learn the first stage, and remain a perpetual beginner.
Neglecting the remaining stages leaves the form meaningless and empty.

(ii) Internal strength

Internal biomechanical concerns are incorporated.
The way in which the body is used is now the concern.
Every single movement is imbued with internal strength.

An understanding of The Way and Its Power, the tai chi classics and taoism is necessary.

(iii) Application

Traditionally, it is said that there are at least seven applications for every form posture.
There are three types of martial application within form: chin na, jing and shuai jiao.
Competence in all three areas of skill is required.
A student must be capable of skilfully applying the form in a thorough and convincing way against an earnest attacker.

Applications must adhere to the tai chi principles (4 ounces of pressure, softness, stickiness, yielding, peng etc).

(iv) Shen

Shen is a vitality that can be seen shining through a person; it enlivens the body and refreshes the mind.
The eyes look expressive and alert.

For 'shen' to manifest, a person must lose all self-consciousness.
There is no more self or other, just movement, just sensation/feeling.
Instead of feeling apart from what is happening, we feel the physics of the movement, the kinetic flow.

(v) Natural

Instead of glossy, flamboyant, outward show, the attention turns inward.
The tai chi is not ornate.
It is simple, direct, flowing and natural.
Within the slow spirals, curves and gentle steps can be found a grace that is difficult to articulate.

Cigarettes & alcohol

Addictive substances are used to prop people up.

A student called Steve once commented that after a few weeks of taijiquan he’d stopped drinking altogether. No effort was involved; he just didn’t feel like it anymore.

He remarked, “Happy people don’t drink.”



I never get the chance to talk to you as we leave in a hurry after class but I would like to say in this email how much we admire and respect you, your clarity and common sense approach to many aspects of the martial arts cuts through so much crap taught by others; we are humbled and honoured for you allowing us to train with you, I do not think some of the other students understand the difference between other classes and yours, believe me we do; I guess because we involved with other stuff we can appreciate just how awesome the art is you teach.

I was talking to Jonothan going home tonight and we remarked on just how deep tai chi penetrates into every aspect of our lives, moving, thinking, interaction with others, it really pervades everything you do when you allow it to.

It must be frustrating to have all this cool stuff and not be able to get it across to the general public.


Heavier weapons

One day a week Sifu Waller's home training involves the use of oak weapons for the stick and staff forms and drills. 


Sabre form

The sabre form looks almost as long as side A of pao chui, but is actually a little bit shorter. There are a number of repeated postures too.