Principle One

All the Tai chi movement comes from the waist, the Tan Tien. This always comes first and leads the rest of the movement. The Tan Tien is the centre of the body’s power. When we move from the centre everything else follows naturally.

Our Tai Chi movement comes from the centre, the Tan Tien or Hara point. This point represents our physical power, our centre of gravity and also our natural force it is the source of our physical energy. The movement is subtle and powerful. Like a wheel, while the centre turns a small distance the outside moves much further, the power from the centre is extended outwards. In Tai Chi the small movement of the centre is exaggerated by the arm and hands. The hands and arms express the movement, and power is delivered without effort.

The centre is moved from the feet, ankles, legs, waist and hips. The legs allow rising and sinking, from the knees. The stance allows for the movement of the weight. The waist turns from side to side and the hips combine the movement and deliver power. Yet the focus is on moving the centre. The movement of the feet, ankles, legs, waist and hips should be natural, creating the movement required in the centre without direction of thought.

The centre leads and the rest of the body follows. The centre moves a fraction of a second, perhaps a tenth of a second or less before the rest of the movement. Moving from the centre first, delivers both power and grace. It delivers power from the centre, the centre of gravity and the source of energy. Grace in movement comes from the naturalness. As the body follows the centre, the whole movement becomes graceful and natural. The movement extends from the centre, up through the trunk and from the shoulders, into the elbows, wrists and fingers. Relaxation in the upper body makes the movement graceful and enables the extension of Chi.

“In life we learn to go with the flow of the Universe, to work with the natural rhythms of life and life becomes so much easier. This is the principle upon which all else is based, the one truth that governs all. If we let the universal energy lead our life then we no longer need to strive and struggle, everything we need is done for us.”

The physical movement is just one aspect of Tai Chi. While the physical movement comes from the Tan Tien, the higher centres enable our spiritual connection. It is important in Tai Chi for the mind to be still and quiet. Only in this stillness, or absence of thought, is it possible to feel the spiritual connection. In the stillness of the mind we can become connected to the Universal life force and its innate wisdom. We can use this universal wisdom to direct and lead our lives, if we choose. Tai Chi can be described as a moving meditation and the stillness of the mind provides us with our spiritual connection.

Practical Exercises
1. Use some of the chi Kung movement to feel the movement of the waist and tan tien. Waving hands like a cloud is a good exercise for this.
2. Do the form without using the arms. Just feel the movement of the centre
3. Again with the arms, but keep the mind focused on the centre.