Yang Cheng Fu is the Tai Chi Master who put internal martial arts on the world map. His decision to teach the art on a broader basis than just to martial artists seeking advanced martial arts practices has withstood the test of time. One hundred years down the line the art is the most practiced of all tai chi styles and is rich in diversity, texture and expression, with many successful practitioners.One of Yang Cheng Fu’s most generous contributions was to allow the writing down of what he considered to be the 10 most important points to show in your Yang Style tai chi practice:
1. Emptying the thoughts and raising the head as if the crown of the head is pressed up against the heavens
2. Hollowing the chest to raise the back
3. Loosening up the waist
4. Distinguishing between substantial and insubstantial
5. Sinking the shoulder and weighting down the elbow
6. Using Yi (intention of the mind) and not physical strength
7. Co-ordination of both the upper and lower body
8. Internal and external in togetherness
9. Continuity without breakage
10. Seeking stillness within movement
There are many different books that give commentary and explanation of each of these points, but the ones that he himself gave are already very clear. A quick search on the internet will easily yield them. Although translations differ, if you are resolute about wanting to achieve a good level of competence in all of the above points, you will undoubtedly grow a strong foundation in the art in preparation for advanced Yang style concepts and principles to be added.
When I began Tai Chi, the importance’s of these points were made abundantly clear through repeated demonstration of the effect they have on internal energy development and application. As time went on it became clear that as a basis for advanced practice these points must be in place. Further that, with awareness, all items within the syllabus train all ten points as a minimum. My personal feeling is that it was invaluable for me to have access to intensive training that allowed deeper exploration into the points with a group of people willing to set aside their egos and cooperate in mutual growth in the art. I hope all of you can gain a similar experience because if even one of the points is not understood and manifested in what one is doing, development in the art begins to tail off. This most assuredly was not Yang Cheng Fu’s desire as, if properly understood, the points are very solid stepping stones that allow all practitioners to flourish and reach their goals within the art.
So as your interest in the art rises, make sure that the skills demonstrated in your Tai Chi community is alive with these points. If not – go and get them from another community, bring them back and nourish the practitioners around you. In this way Yang style will become stronger and stronger as time goes on.
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