1. After learning the hand form, what else do we learn?

Students learn the Hand Form, Push Hands, and Weapons (sword, saber and staff). The hand form is the foundation for all other forms. After learning the hand form the student progresses to learn push hands. Push Hands teaches the student to apply the 8 energies taught in the hand form with an opponent/partner. The sword and saber teaches the student how to use a weapon. The sword and saber still follow the 10 essentials while maintaining the large, graceful, and even pace. The sword techniques are clear, light, flexible, lively and flowing and the saber techniques are heavy, powerful, and energetic and show strong spirit.

2. What is Push Hands and its basic principles?

The basic principles for push hands is sticking, adhering, connecting, following with no resisting or separating from the opponent. If your opponent doesn’t move, you don’t move. When your opponent begins to move, then you move late and arrive/control first.

3. What forms and types of Push Hands is taught by the Yang Family?

We have two forms of Push Hands – Fixed step and moving step. In Yang Style it includes 5 different types of push hands – single arm fixed step, double arm fixed step, moving step – straight footwork, moving step – cross footwork and big rollback.

4. What weapons are part of the original Yang family Tai Chi?

The traditional Yang style actually doesn’t have many weapons. In the main they are divided into two groups: long and short handled weapons.

The short weapons are the 67-move sword and 13-move saber.

For the long weapons we used to include the long spear (or Yang style 13-move spear), but later for safety reasons, removed the spear head so that it became a long staff. The techniques for the staff remain the same as the original spear form. Later the long staff practice turned mainly into a way of training to emit energy (fajing). This is usually referred to as dou gan or ‘shivering staff.’

5. What is a Bow Stance?

A bow stance is like the shape of an archer’s stance. Knee follows the toe direction and doesn’t go past the toe. Back leg is straight but not locked. Shoulder width between feet. Forward and back feet are rooted. If feet are too narrow (not shoulders width apart) you are not stable. Back foot points to corner or 45 degrees. Weight is 60% front, 40% back.

6. What is an Empty Stance?

An Empty Stance is when your back leg and foot is pointed to the corner and the front foot is forward. The front foot touches with either the toe or heel. More weight is on the back leg and the front leg takes just a little bit of weight. The back leg knee is in line with toes. Do not cross heels. Stay on the other side of the centerline between the heels. Footwork is narrower. Weight is 30% front, 70% back. Do not lean back – keep centered.

7. When practicing Tai Chi, should we concentrate on our breathing?

Breathing is natural, even. Sink your chi to the dantian. We don’t talk too much about coordinating breathing with movements. With long movements you must breathe naturally – don’t stop breathing because your energy will stop, chi will stop, and so movements and breath should be natural. Movements have to be coordinated with breath with simple movements.

8. What are some other things we should remember when practicing Tai Chi?

Mouth: Keep mouth closed but not closed. Naturally closed. When mouth is dry, yin is not enough then cannot have yang.

Tongue: Touch tip of tongue to the roof of your mouth. This helps keep the mouth moist.

Shape of hand: Lift slightly, extend, bend your fingers, slight space between fingers. Same shape of palm. Don’t go too soft or hard.

Relax: Remember to open the joints, tendons and bones while unifying the entire body during your practice. Tai Chi is a “whole body” exercise. The waist is very important as it leads your entire body. Energy is led from your root, which is located in the feet, exploded by the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed by the hands.

9. How does the body move while practicing Tai Chi chuan?

The upper body is light, the middle body is flexible and the lower body solid and heavy.

10. How do we keep upper body light and lower body solid?

Do not use too much force to keep the upper body light.

Keep your chi sinking down to keep the lower body solid.

11. How do we keep our chi sinking down?

Do not hold your breath – keep breathing naturally. When you are calm, then your chi automatically sinks down.

12. What does it mean to be double weighted?

Double weighted means that your “empty” and “full” are not clear. It makes it so you are not able to transfer between empty and full so you are not able to be flexible and agile. It makes your breathing unnatural, your energy stiff, and your whole body not flexible.

13. Sometimes Tai Chi is referred to as the Long Fist. What is the meaning of Long Fist?

In the Tai Chi form the energy is continuously moving – no stopping. Like clouds moving, water flowing – it never stops.

With other forms of martial arts the meaning is the form is fast, movements are large but with Tai Chi it means that the energy continues like water, like clouds.

14. What are the three treasures of the human body?

Jing (Essence)

Chi (Qi) (Vital Energy)

Shen (Spirit)

“Accumulate Shen to promote Chi

Accumulate Chi to promote Jing

Refine Jing until it becomes Chi

Refine Chi into Shen

Refine Shen to emptiness

This is the way to strengthen, support and increase the Jing, Chi and Shen of the body.”

15. What is Jing (Essence)?

Jing is a basic component of the human body and serves as a basis for vital activity. It is what we get from what we eat, the sun, the moon. In the Jing/Chi pair, Jing is more like Yin.

16. How does Jing (Essence) relate to Chi (Qi)?

The meaning of Chi is simply, life! Life is due to the coming together of Chi, and death is due to the dispersion of Chi. It is a force promoting the activity of the human body. Chi coexists with Jing. Where there is Chi, there is Jing. Where there is Jing, there must be Chi. Chi is like energy. Chi is more like Yang.

17. What is Shen (Spirit)?

Shen is derived from Jing and Chi, plus it has a substantial basis (Jing + Chi = Shen.) Shen is the outward manifestation of the cooperating action of Jing and Chi. Where Chi is strong, there will be Shen. Where Chi is absent, Shen will weaken. Shen moves along with Chi and Jing. The substance of Shen manifests itself in bodily appearance.

18. How Can we Raise our Shen (Spirit)?

By follow the 10 Principles of Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan, the entire body is loose (song) and open allowing the (Jingshen) Vital Energy to be cultivated and be able to raise. Your spirit comes from your heart and shows out through your eyes. You must use your attention and concentration to help your spirit raise up.

19. What is Wu De?

Wu De (martial virtue) is the established code of conduct (morals) for martial artists and covers two main areas: the actions and the mind set of the Practitioner.

In The Action, one should express Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, and Loyalty.

In The Mind, one must have Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage.

20. What morals should we be adhering to?

Be a nice person. Respect each other, especially your elders.