Master Huang Xiangxian's View on Taiji Quan's starting posture

by Rennie Chong

Many people tend to pay attention to perfecting the external form, when practising Taiji quan, instead of finding the real meaning of doing it right. Generally, many new Taiji books interpret the beginning posture as below:

"...stand naturally straight, feet apart about shoulder-width, hands naturally drop aside, toes facing the front, eyes look horizontal forward... etc"

According to the traditional version of Taiji Quan books, the starting posture has more details:

"...stand still straight ahead, mind keeps thinking of upright position, eyes look forward horizontally, chest slightly enclosed, but keep back upright, do not allow the body to bow forward nor drop backward, relax both shoulders, hands drop down aside the body with fingers pointing front, palms facing down, relax both waist and groins, feet lay evenly flat on ground, stand with two legs parallelly apart at should-width,  knees slightly bent. At this juncture, do it with full concentration, keep the breathing to the abdomen area, one must feel both physically and mentally at ease."

As the new version of the Taiji Quan book only demand on perfecting the external posture, there is a lack of content and depth. In the old version, usually, 'concentration and innerlook' together with 'keeping the breathing downwards in the abdomen position' are pointed out, but there is no furthre explanation on how to achieve it.

My interpretation is: there are 3 essential stages that form the foundation of Taiji Quan. They are, namely, Xu Wu, Wu Ji, and Taiji.

Xu Wu is like reaching a virtual state. There is a state where one sees no shapes, no solid matters and no images. When one starts practising, the person must first clear his mind, so that there is absolutely no distractions in his mind, no thoughts of the surroundings including environment, people or matters.

Literally, Wu Ji means empty. In Taiji Quan, it means the critical state where there is still a trace of life; it is like the origin of life and death. Yin and Yang both originated from here. This is exactly where the preparation of the starting point of Taiji is.

To prepare for the starting posture is very important. One must start with a crystal-clear mind, put in full concentration, and simultaneously relax his body physically to search for the Wu Ji point in the inner body. The moment this is grasped, the turning point of Yin and Yang can then be attained by continuing the rest of the Taiji steps.

Once a thorough preparation is done, one can expect to reach a stage of full relaxation more easily. Otherwise, practisingf Taiji Quan without the proper preparation in the beginning not only does not achieve the health benefits that Taiji Quan claims to provide, but also violates the purpose of Taiji.

Thus, the general advice is: do not start off casually; one should pay full attention to prepare for the starting posture to gain benefits of real Taiji.


Master Huang Xiangxian's View on Taiji Quan's starting posture @ 2007 Rennie Chong

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