Tai Chi Checklist to Develop Internal Skills
In this article we will outline a tai chi checklist – points to always adhere to during all standing and moving practices. Become familiar with these points first while standing still (wuji). Once you feel comfortable while still, then apply while moving.
A word of caution – when your intention is on these points, your movement will naturally slow down. This is fine, just make sure not to become stiff or stagnant in the process. Always keep relaxation your first intention!
There is NO SECRET to internal development in tai chi. Follow this outline and gradually your understanding and hence skill will grow…
Points to Remember:
- The point at the very top of your head (Bai Hui) feels as if gently suspended from above
- From Bai Hui point, allow your spine to relax and hang down freely
- Eyes look to the front, ears listen behind
- Stretch up the back of your neck gently so your chin seems slightly tucked in
- Shoulders remain level by relaxing (fangsong) equally
- Relax/hollow chest and allow back to stretch open (shoulder blades separate gently away from spine)
- Elbows sink down equally, as if supported by balloons floating on water
- All fingers extend and relax equally from center of palm (Laogong points)
- Relax lower back and stomach muscles completely allowing lower back to straighten
- Pelvis and hips remain level by relaxing (fangsong) equally
- Legs either both spiral inward (lifting) or outward (sinking) equally
- Knees either both compressing inward or expanding outward equally
- Heels either grinding inward or outward equally
- Imagine a piece of rice paper under your heels and take care not to crush it by placing too much pressure on your heels
- Yong Quan points on bottom of feet remain open, to allow tension to sink down into the ground
All of these points should be followed all the time. Apply these during standing, basics, solo form, and partner training. During form practice, stop at any point, hold your position, and go through this tai chi checklist. Initially it will seem tedious. With time, you will find it more and more easy to apply these points. And you will notice a big change in your practice, and skill. Through this process, your development will become more and more internalized!