TAI CHI AND THE TAOIST ARTS
PART I WHAT DOES “INTERNAL” MEAN?
PART II THE INTERNAL ARTS: TAI CHI, HSING I, AND PA QUA
PART III DEVELOPING “CHI”: MEDITATION, TAOIST BREATHING AND “CHI” MESSAGE
PART I WHAT DOES “INTERNAL” MEAN?
In the Chinese martial arts there are two basic schools, and these schools
are sometimes called the “hard” and the “soft.” Hard training is Kung
Fu. Kung Fu developed (for the most part) in the Shaolin Temple of Hunan
Province in central China. The Shaolin temple was a Buddhist monastery.
The soft school includes Hsing I, Pa Qua and, most famously, Tai Chi.
These arts (sometimes called “Wu Dan”) developed variously during the
course of Chinese history. They no doubt owe a lot to the Shaolin system,
yet they are more heavily influenced by Taoism than by Buddhism.
The hard systems of Kung Fu tend to be more direct in their method of
attack. They include, but do not favor, linear movement.
The soft systems are more circular, employing deep muscle groups and
often making more use of the entire body in expressing movements. This
often gives the impression that force is being “brought up,” which it
is, from deep within the body or from low in the stance.
Another way to characterize the difference between the internal and
external schools is that the external applies force to an opponent whereas
the internal absorbs or ‘internalizes’ force delivered by one’s opponent.
In actuality, the internal and external arts share more similarities
All martial arts, for example, use Fa Jing. Fa Jing can be translated
as coiling energy. This is, twisting the body so that movement develops
in the lower parts and is expressed outwardly throughout the arms and
Both Kung Fu and Tai Chi stylists should be able to do this. Another
term that refers to this specialized use of muscle groups is Nie Kung
– internal work. That is, using deep muscles to develop explosive force.
All martial arts do this.
Both systems also make use of breathing. The internal artists are believed
to use breathing control more effectively, but this is not so. Breathing
control is sometimes referred to as “Chi Kung” – “Breath Work.” All
martial arts are breath work with respect to the fact that all martial
artists employ an inhale/exhale (coinciding with “cock/execute”) breathing
Philosophically, there is also a huge amount of overlap. The differences
between Kung Fu and Tai Chi are not black and white. Keep in mind that
China is a very old place. It is also a very big place and it has a
lot of people in it. People talk with each other, they share ideas and
argue, they form their own groups, then divide into smaller groups,
and then divide again and rejoin. They form their own ideas and take
other people’s ideas.
If you want a good model for the development of Chinese martial arts’
physical and spiritual traditions, examine languages. Why do we have
words like rendezvous in English? Or consider philosophy: Why is Japanese
Buddhism different from Indian Buddhism? Maybe, on its way to Japan,
it traveled through China and was influenced by Taoism? Ideas were exchanged,
picked up and discarded in the development of Buddhism. The same thing
has happened in the development of Chinese martial arts.
Boundaries are not as clear as we sometimes think.
PART II THE INTERNAL ARTS: TAI CHI, HSING I, PA QUA
Keeping in mind what we have discussed above, Tai Chi can be considered
one of the three “internal” martial arts of China, also called the “Three
HISTORY OF TAI CHI
For one of the better academic texts on Tai Chi, see Lost Tai-chi Classics
from the Late Ch’ing Dynasty, in the recommended reading list.
As with much of Chinese culture, myth and history combine to give us
an entertaining if apocryphal account of the origin mastered the origins
of Tai Chi. According to one legend, the 13th century Taoist boxer Chang
San-Feng based his theories on the interplay of Yin and Yang and was
able to give them concrete form after witnessing an epic battle between
a Crow and a Serpent.
The Crow attacked with energy and persistence, but each of his lunges
was avoided by the snake, who calmly moved aside whichever part of his
body was in danger. This continued until the bird, his energy spent,
launched a final attack and the snake countered, biting the bird’s exposed
Whether or not this story was an inspiration for the Taoist system of
martial art called Tai Chi it at least illustrates how softness and
yielding can overcome strength and aggression.
What is known of Chang San-Feng is that he was born on April 9th in
the year 1247 A.D. he received an education in the Chinese Classics
and at one time he held a position with the Yuan government. He is also
said to have mastered the Shaolin system of martial arts.
All in all, we can guess that Chang San-Feng combined Shaolin boxing,
Taoist philosophy and indigenous breathing and fighting drills into
a system of his own. Chang San-Feng may also have developed the 8 energies
and 5 steps of Tai Chi.
The known history of Tai Chi is incomplete. The 108 movement form of
the Yang family dates from the 1920’s. Yang Cheng-fu was its main architect.
Modern Tai Chi is divided into Five major styles or families. They are:
Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun, and Chang.
The Yang system is the most widespread, especially in the United States.
Yang Tai Chi is noted for its flowing movements, large, generous postures,
clear weight distribution between the feet and “lightness.” Its large
stances and full movements are typical of Northern Shaolin boxing, and
it is almost a certainty that the two systems share a common heritage.
For information on a complete home study program of Tai Chi Click
The 12 Fundamentals of Tai Chi
I attended a seminar for teachers of tai chi several years ago and one
of the things discussed was how to judge Tai Chi at tournaments when
the majority of the competitors are performing different versions of
The seminar leader argued, persuasively, that we should not judge choreography,
that is, the order in which postures are perform. Rather, we should
pay attention to the fundamentals of the form and base our assessment
Here are the fundamentals.
1. Back Straight - crown of head lifted, tail bone tucked. This lengthens
and stretches the spine, allowing unconstricted flow energy.
2. Six Gates Open - the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders
should be flexed, not locked. The body should be soft, not rigid.
3. Separate Your Weight - shift your weight back and forth so your are
dynamic, not static. Be both proactive and receptive. If we can't move
into an opening, we miss an opportunity. If we can't withdraw at the
proper time, we will get knocked off our base.
4. Intention - our eye focus links mind and body so our actions follow
our thoughts. When you practice Pushing Hands, look where you're pushing.
When you do form, put your gaze in the direction of your action.
5. Circularity - your practice should be smooth and flowing, not abrupt
and linear. Circles connect our movements.
6. Level Height - you are either advancing, or retreating, or redirecting
so our energy is controlled and directed on a level plain. Bobbing up
and down is irrelevant to our purpose.
7. Continuity - learn in pieces (because that's the only way to do it)
but practice as a whole. Don't stop and start in either form or pushing
hands. Always be in motion so no single part is divorced from the rest.
8. Hands and Feet Coordinate - the body moves as a whole. Weight shift,
rotation, and hand position should all conclude at the same time.
9. Move from the Ground Up - motion begins in the feet, is controlled
at the waist and expressed in the hands. Be rooted, and move from there.
10. Shoulder Width Stance - your base should be as broad as your shoulders
to allow the six gates to open, circularity, and continuity. all, only
the body. Aim for this in your practice.
11. Move from the center of your body. Minimize the movement of the
limbs; maximize the movement (especially rotation) of the torso.
12. Have a Good Outlook - Be cheerful in your practice. There is no
rush to learn, and mistakes (yours and other people's) are okay. Strive
to not only discipline your physical form, but your outlook.
Forms of Yang Style
Some common divisions within the Yang system are the “Classical” 108
movement style of Yang Chen Fu (died 1935), Chen Manch’ing style and
Chen Pan l’ing style.
Chen family Tai Chi is recognizable for its sudden “Fa Jing.” Chen movements
are crisp and powerful. As with Yang, movement flows upward from the
feet into the hands. Extremely low stances and some jumping are included.
There is also a simplified form of 24 movements.
here to learn the Yang Short Form.
Wu Tai Chi is performed slowly, as with Yang, but it is more upright.
Movements appear more linear than Yang and the upper body may be inclined
forward. The Sun and Chang systems are similar to Yang, with a greater
emphasis on coiling and compactness.
All of the families of Tai Chi, as with all of the Chinese martial arts,
should show a clear uniformity of movement connecting the hips and shoulders.
That is, the hips and shoulders should be identically aligned so that
power is generated from the whole torso.
Why is this? Because Tai Chi developed as, and still is, a martial art.
Martial arts are concerned with fighting. In fighting theory, when a
punch is thrown, the blow will land with m ore force if it is backed
up by the body. How do you do this? By turning your shoulder and hip
at the same tie you strike, so that the movement of the arm is not divorced
from the movement of the torso.
TAOISM’S INFLUENCE ON TAI CHI
Formally, Tai Chi is a complete system of health, meditation and self
defense. Most of the postures comprising the Tai Chi form have martial
arts applications and many of them (Bend the Bow and Shoot the Tiger,
White Crane Spreads It’s Wings, Wave hands Like Clouds) are identical
to movements found in Kung Fu forms.
Tai Chi is based on Taoist philosophy. This philosophy asserts that
before the universe was formed, there existed a state called Wu Chi
or “nothingness.” In nothingness there was no movement, and no separation
between light and dark, solid and void, positive and negative.
Once there was movement, there was separation of opposites. The state
which followed Wu Chi, and which was brought about by movement, was
called Tai Chi. In this regard, Tai Chi can be translated, approximately,
as “eternal energy,” or more simply, “reality.”
The symbol of Taoism, and also the symbol of Tai Chi, is the Ying/Yang.
The Yin/Yang represents the two principles of reality, positive and
negative. As you can see from the symbol below, the design of the Yin/Yang
implies movement, (unified) separation and balance. Note that the black
area contains a white dot and vice versa. This indicates that everything
must contain an element of its opposite in order to be balanced – in
other words, you can’t be all one way.
The world around us is considered Tai Chi – “Ultimate Reality.” It
is a world governed by movement and balance. In order to put ourselves
in harmony with this world, we can practice an exercise that teaches
us the rules that govern reality, i.e., movement and balance. This exercise
is called Tai Chi Chuan. Chuan means fist. In the context of traditional
Chinese martial arts, the term fist means application.
Tai Chi is a system of training. At the very core of this training is
a belief in balance. This, perhaps, is the principal that Tai Chi emphasizes
most, and which sets it apart, even though other martial arts include
this same principal. Because of this, we should train with Tai Chi as
a system so we receive balanced training. This is why, traditionally,
Tai Chi has been practiced for health, relaxation, and self defense.
To emphasize only one aspect of this system is to become unbalanced.
Note: when we study something as a system, we gain insights that we
would not have gained from a one-dimensional study. The postures of
Tai Chi can be understood and explained in terms of physical health,
self defense, mental discipline, and aesthetics.
Let me give you an example of this. Each of the postures of Tai Chi
Chuan can be broken into two parts, preparation and execution, in which
the weight is shifted from one leg to the other along with an inhalation
and an exhalation. As I have said, we can explain this from three perspectives.
For health, we must work both sides of the body equally, and our breathing
must be free.
For self defense, we must cock before we can punch. We must block before
we can counter. It is best to yield to an attack, rather than stepping
directly into it, but when we counter, we must assert (go forward) in
order to be effective.
Philosophically, we learn that effective living involves both yielding
and asserting. We must be able to give ground, as well as be able to
move ahead, all depending on the circumstances. What are the circumstances?
Well, in the case of a punch or verbal aggression, we don’t’ want to
rush into an attack. We should, rather, yield and wait until the energy
is spent, then we can move ahead.
The Tao Teh Ching, (an ancient Taoist text) tells us as much in saying
“The height of Yin (negative) is Yang (positive).” Or put another way,
when our opponent’s energy is spent and his movement has peaked and
gone from strong to weak, it is our time to move ahead and go from weak
(yielding or Yin) to strong (asserting or Yang).
To apply the philosophy of the martial arts in your daily life click
In this way, we can see how learning about self defense applications
can give us insight into the philosophical applications of this system
of discipline. In fact, all the dimensions of Tai Chi offer lessons
touching on one another. This is why it is important to 1) study it
as a system, and 2) study with an instructor who can teach you Tai Chi
in all its dimensions.
The main point to keep in mind is that in order to be effective, you
must seek balance.
TRAINING IN TAI CHI
As with other martial arts (see section on Kung Fu), the training is
generally divided into four parts: basics, technique, form and sparring.
Tai Chi basics include Chi Kung or “breath work,” stance training and
Taoist meditation. At the very least, every student should become skilled
in some of the standard breathing sequences of Chi Kung. These drills
are invaluable in accustoming beginners to the specialized way of moving
and breathing that is practiced in Tai Chi. Practicing these drills
will also help the student gain grater physical strength and mental
Once mastered, these drills can be practiced again and again as warm
ups, and also as abbreviated routines for someone recovering from or
fighting an illness. Even the greatest masters return again to the basics,
as these were their original classrooms.
Techniques in Tai Chi include all of the postures that join together
to create the forms. In the Yang system, these are the 36 original postures
such as “Parting the Wild Horse’s Man (also called “Stanting Flying,”
“Brush Knee and Push,” “Pat High On Horse,” “Golden Pheasant Stands
on One Leg” and “Fair Lady Works at Shuttle”).
Form in the Tai Chi includes the major and minor training sets. In the
Yang system, these are the 24, 46, and 108 movement sets, as well as
the Straight Sword, Broad Sword, Long Staff, Fan, Spear and Two-man
Tai Chi also has a sparring component. It is called “Pushing Hands.”
Pushing Hands is performed with two people and may be done in a stationary
position without moving the feet, following a “fixed step” pattern,
or free form in a moving “Pushing” contest. Rules of engagement vary
widely. In the United States, competition is fairly civil. Points are
given when an opponent steps back or stumbles forward. Punching, kicking,
grabbing, and throwing are prohibited, though I have heard of all this
being considered fair play in Taiwan.
With a partner of like interests and temperament, Pushing Hands can
be a fun exercise as well as a valid practice of principals of Yin and
Like Tai Chi, the origins of Hsing I (pronounced “sing ee”) are obscured
by the mists and effluvia of Chinese folklore. By one account, the warrior
Yueh Fei concocted the system during the Sung Dynasty (the 10th through
13th centuries A.D.). This history is as likely as any.
Hsing means “shape” and I means “mind,” or “mind giving shape to movement.”
This system places great emphasis on linear movements and strikes delivered
with closed fists. Movements are sudden and forceful, unlike Tai Chi,
though Hsing I shares Tai Chi’s use of twisting and rotating to develop
Stances tend to be high and narrow, although a deep horse stance and
a very low twist stance are occasionally employed. Most of the Hsing
I stances resemble a “Cat” stance (Shi Bu in Chinese), with 40% of the
weight on the front foot and 60% on the rear. In the Hsing I, this is
called a “Sitting Back Stance.”
Also like Tai Chi, Hsing I mixes philosophy with martial technique.
Where Tai Chi focuses mainly on the interplay of Yin and Yang, Hsing
I includes both the Yin/Yang dichotomy as well as the relationship of
the five Primary Elements of ancient Chinese Cosmology.
According to this outlook, the Five Elements interact to bring about
all life and death, their genesis and decline. The Five Elements and
their attributes are:
P’I Metal Splitting
TS’UAN Water Drilling
P’ENG Wood Crushing
P’AO Fire Pounding
HENG Earth Crossing
As one can guess from the characteristics given to each element, Hsing
I does not attach equal importance to both yielding and advancing. In
the Hsing I system, force predominates. This force is balanced, however,
by the overall interaction of the Five Elements. While all the elements
represent an aspect of force (or creation), each must yield, in time,
to the element that will replace it (decline). In this manner, the Five
Elements or “forces” balance each other as the old is continually making
way for the new. Even in a system of stressing force, there is yielding.
Can you see the influence of Taoism here?
Earth creates Metal (minerals)
Metal creates Water (condensation)
Water creates Wood (growth)
Wood creates Fire (fuel)
Fire creates Earth (as)
In addition to the Five Elements, Hsing I incorporates the movements of
12 animals. The animals are: dragon, tiger, monkey, horse, tortoise, chicken,
sparrow-hawk, swallow, snake, pigeon, eagle and bear. By other accounts,
the camel, falcon, T’ai (a mythical bird), and water skimmer (an insect
living on the surface of ponds) may be included, but others omitted. The
name Hsing I or “shape mind” becomes more sensible when we realize that
the concept underlying Hsing I study is not literally to become metal
or a bear, but to understand (with one’s mind) what quality those things
possess and to give some sort of physical representation to that quality
through martial arts form.
Earth destroys Water (dams up)
Water destroys Fire (extinguishes)
Fire destroys Metal (melts)
Metal destroys Wood (chops)
Wood destroys Earth (breaks apart and consumes)
Like other martial arts, Hsing I training can be divided into four categories,
those being basics, technique, form and sparring.
The basics of Hsing I are the Five Elements, the techniques are the specific
applications of those elements, as well as self defense combinations initiative
of the 12 animals. Hsing I form is arranged into “linking sets” that include
either Five Elements or the 12 animals. Hsing I also includes two-man
sets that are executed with a partner. Sparring is Hsing I is or is not
stressed, depending on the school and the instructor. When it is practiced,
it is much like sparring in the Shaolin system; it tends to be free form,
with use of Hsing I movement employed where practical.
The last of the “Three Sisters” is Pa Qua. This art derives its name and
major emphasis from the “Eight Trigrams” of the Chinese fortune telling
book I Ching, or “Book of Changes.” According to popular belief, the System
was formalized by Tung Hai-Chuan, who learned it from a Taoist priest
during a visit to Yu-Hua mountain. This is supposed to have occurred sometime
around 1870 A.D. As one can see, it is a comparatively recent (some would
say “higher”) development in Chinese martial arts.
Pa Qua movement is extremely subtle. Much of the emphasis is on twisting
the waist, the upper body is held upright, breathing is through the nose
with tongue held to the roof of the mouth – as with all the “internal”
Pa Qua training compliments Hsing I in that it is comprised entirely of
circular movement, whereas Hsing I is, at least on the surface, a linear
system. Just as the majority of Hsing I movements are rooted in the Five
Elements, Pa Qua is based on the Eight Changes.
These “changes” are found in the I Ching. They are represented below in
their standard configuration:
As I have said, all of this springs from Chinese fortune telling folk
art. The “Trigrams” look like sticks because that’s what they were originally.
The fortune teller would throw a handful of sticks on the ground and derive
meaning from the pattern they created. Gradually, those patterns were
Their meanings are as follows:
CHINESE SYMBOL ENGLISH CHARACTERISTIC
Note: In keeping with the “crossover” of characteristics between supposedly
separate arts (as I have mentioned in this guide), it is interesting to
note that Tai Chi makes use of the Eight Trigrams by assigning each a
They are: Ward off/Chien; Roll-back/Kun; Press/Kan; Push/Li; Pull-down/Sun;
Split/Chen; Elbow/Tui; and Shoulder-strike/Ken.
The breakdown of training in Pa Qua is again in four parts. The basics
are the Eight Changes; techniques are applications of those changes; and
form includes some weapons, varying from school to school. The most common
empty hand form is the Dragon form, which would correspond to a “linking
set” in Hsing I. Sparring, as with Hsing I, is not always a part of training
and is more a matter of the instructor’s inclination.
Perhaps the most popular training exercise in Pa Qua is “Walking the Circle.”
This can be performed individually or with a group. The students assume
a formal fighting stance with one hand up, the other low with the index
finger turned inward toward the navel. Steps are light and quick, skimming
the floor, with the heel kicking up at the last instant. Anyone who has
ever seen group of Pa Qua enthusiasts “Walking the Circle” has been impressed
by the group’s cohesion combined with seeming spontaneity.
Much subtlety is required for proper execution of Pa Qua techniques. Many
of the movements are hidden to the observer. Indeed, the entire essence
of Pa Qua seems to be found in circling and confusing one’s opponent with
last second ducks and sudden reversals.
THE ADVANTAGES OF “INTERNAL” TRAINING
The major advantage of training in any of the “internal” arts is that
these are, for good reason, considered “soft.” The movements tend to be
circular and smooth. They do not tax the joints and are usually performed
at a speed that does note quire above average physical conditioning. As
a result, this type of training can continue to be enjoyed throughout
one’s life. In fact, in China, Japan, and Taiwan, Tai Chi is most popular
among the older members of the population.
Another advantage, depending on what one is looking for, is that schools
teaching these arts often emphasize, or at least include, a spiritual
component with the training.
PART III DEVELOPING “CHI”: MEDITATION, TAOIST BREATHING, AND “CHI”
One concept which all the Asian martial arts share is that of “chi.”
Chi means energy or breath and it is within the internal martial arts
that we find the greatest focus on developing this energy.
In spite of all the distortion this concept has suffered due to ignorance
and advertising, Chi is real, and it can be developed. The clearest
(in an empirical sense) demonstration of the uses of Chi is what has
been done in China medically. Surgeons have performed open heart surgery
on patience using no anesthetic. Pain control was achieved entirely
through the use of dozens of small needles controlled by teams of acupuncturists.
Acupuncture, and its control of Chi, has been credited with achieving
remarkable results in the field of health.
But what role does Chi play in the martial arts? According to tradition,
all the “internal” arts are supposed to encourage the development of
Chi by including movements that stimulate the chi meridians or channels.
The Chi directed to the Dan Tien (a spot about three inches below the
navel) and stored. Or it may be directed to any spot on the body and
used to resist a blow. The belief is that by storing and concentrating
chi, the martial artist not only gains greater fighting ability, but
will live a longer and healthier life and may even gain immortality!
This may or may not be the case. I know of Chinese martial artists who
died in their early seventies. This seems to be about the same as the
American national average – and most Americans do not spend their lives
performing esoteric exercises that store “life force.”
However skeptical we remain about the existence and use of Chi, we should
at least concede that the meridians and stimulation points of acupuncture
coincide with recognized nerve centers of western medicine. We should
also acknowledge that, in cases where the patient is a true believer,
acupuncture and other forms of chi stimulation can lead a person back
to good health, or be used to maintain that health.
Note: However you define chi, remember that there exists some kind of
energy that keeps you alive. Whatever you envision, seek to strengthen
it through your training and you will be rewarded with greater health
and longer life.
This section will conclude by introducing you to methods of developing
and controlling chi.
There are three basic forms of breathing. They are regular, abdominal,
and reverse abdominal.
Regular breathing is just what it sounds like. The student breathes
normally, without any special technique or muscular contractions. In
abdominal breathing, the student uses his or her abdominal muscles to
“pull” breath deep into the abdomen.
As the breath is drawn deep into the abdomen, the abdomen expands. In
reverse abdominal breathing, the student again draws breath deep into
the abdomen. The difference here is that the abdominal muscles are tightened
so that the abdomen contracts, then, when breath is released, the abdomen
expands. This is the reverse of regular breathing.
Regular breathing is suitable during meditation and even Tai Chi or
Chi Kung practice. It works well for beginners because there is only
so much that a person can concentrate on at one time. With beginning
students, concentrating on posture often takes all the concentration
they have and it is best to leave the breathing as it is.
Abdominal breathing is a specific method of forcing breath into the
lower abdomen, and thus greatly concentrating chi into the Dan Tien.
This method is best practiced only under an instructor’s supervision.
Reverse abdominal breathing involves inhaling and contracting the muscles
of the abdomen simultaneously. This method of breathing control is most
closely associated with self defense practices. The goal is to tighten
the abdomen and stomach areas so they are more resistant to force if
struck. This type of breathing should be practiced only in combination
with martial arts training under an instructor’s supervision.
a complete program of Chi development click here.
Once you have developed a practice that suits you, you may want to augment
the health benefits you’re gaining from regular meditation by practicing
a form of visualization called “Chi Manipulation.”
There are countless varieties of Taoist Chi Manipulation. Each teacher
seems to have his own method.
A good starting point, once you have become capable of good breathing
control, is to begin imagining energy flowing through your body as you
meditate. This visualization should perform three tasks:
1. Energy movement should synchronize with your breaths – good energy
in, bad energy out.
2. Energy should, during the course of your practice, find its way to
all parts of your body.
3. The energy that you are imagining to move through your body should
be conceived of as something elemental, universal, and thoroughly positive.
The very presence of this energy in your body should be considered good,
healthful and constructive.
Chi manipulation can be a part of Tai Chi form practice, meditation,
or whatever else you wish.
A final aspect of developing internal energy is using massage to circulate
this energy after it has been concentrated. You may find that your hands
have become warm during your meditation or Tai Chi. This is because
you relaxed your body (opened your “Six Gates” – the ankles, knees,
hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders were kept relaxed rather than locked,
so as to allow the free flow of blood and energy) which led to greater
circulation of blood.
Secondly, it is believed by many that the exercises you were performing
caused chi to flow through your body and become concentrated in your
hands. Explanations of how this happens can become quite technical.
Basically, the belief is that energy is brought up from the feet, channeled
at the hips and expressed through the hands and fingers. If you perform
your Tai Chi regularly and correctly you should notice your hands warming
up. The idea is to apply that collected energy where it will do the
most good – by massaging the area that needs it!
Regardless of how a person envisions chi to exist or operate within
the human body, he or she will find chi massage to be extremely relaxing
Rather than present a complex series of exercises which must be done
“all or nothing,” and we have listed six different massage techniques
the student can experiment with after practicing Tai Chi Chuan and Meditation.
1. Massage the scalp with your fingertips vigorously for one minute.
2. Lightly massage the face, beginning with the forehead, then moving
to the nose and working outward to include the entire face. Do this
for two to three minutes.
3. Begin by gently rotating the fingers in their sockets, beginning
with the small finger and finishing with the thumb, left hand first,
then right. Now systematically work your palm with the thumb of the
opposite hand. Begin at the heel of the palm and work up toward the
knuckles. Once you are at the fingers, gently pull the fingers away
from the hands, enclosing the finger with the thumb, index and middle
fingers of the opposite hand thus, “squeezing” the chi into the fingertips.
4. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched before you and “pound”
(lightly) your thighs with loosely closed fists. Do this in a light,
rapid pattern with both fists.
5. As with #4 above, lightly “chop” the back of your neck with your
fingertips forming the “beak of a crane.” Do this for as long as you
6. As with #3 above, give the same treatment to your feet.
Make at least one of these exercises a regular part of your work out.
Try to conclude your routines each time with at least five minutes of