Taiji is an internal training method that was created by the great Taoist and immortal priest Zhang San Feng in Wudang Mountain. Generally when people discuss “Taiji” they are referring to Taijiquan, or the forms practice involved in Taiji. However, in Wudang, Taijiquan is considered a part of the greater 'Taiji System'. The Taiji System is composed of 3 parts: Wuji, Taiji, and Liangyi. Each of these three parts contains their own practices, purposes, and methods of training. Although the Taiji System is separated into three parts, they are all integrated and complementary to the others.
Wuji is another name for ‘Neidan’ (Daoist meditation practice). The practice of Wuji (loosely translated as 'ultimate emptiness') is for the cultivation of our three vitalities: Jing (Essence), Qi (Energy), and Shen (spirit). We practice Wuji in order to promote the health of these three vitalities; Wuji is also understood as the road to immortality. In order to become stronger and more robust in our health and our lives, we must strengthen and practice our Jing, Qi, and Shen.
Taiji is the balancing interaction of yin and yang. Under the Taiji System, Taijiquan is the form that we use to cultivate ourselves and learn to develop and understand feeling in our bodies and how to integrate that into movement. In Taijiquan practice we learn to conceal hardness within the softness of movement and learn to use our breathing through the dantian, and our intention and internal awareness to guide our movement. Contrary to the widespread misconception that Taijiquan is simply a callisthenic exercise for the elderly, it is actually a deep internal practice that requires great dedication and a strong determination.
Liangyi is the separation of yin and yang. Under the Taiji System, Liangyiquan is for the use of the energy that we have cultivated through our practice. Whereas in Taijiquan we combine the soft and hard, in Liangyiquan practice, we separate the soft and hard. The power of Liangyiquan is explosive, resembling a bomb detonating; its practice is more for use in practical fighting application. While in Taijiquan, all movement is the same speed, with the same balance in softness and hardness at once, Liangyiquan movement is slow and soft, followed by fast explosive movement, called fali.
The human mind is like a lake. When you look at the calm waters of a lake you can see at great depths. What is reflected on the surface is clear. When the waters are not calm, seeing through the bottom is impossible and the reflection itself becomes difficult to discern. With a calmer mind, in the waters one can still reflect more clearly and understand life more deeply; Enter more deeply into the mysteries of internal practice and cultivate abundant Jing, Qi and Shen in the body. Through the practice of the Taiji system one can truly enjoy radiant health in all its manifestations.
The practice of all the elements that make up the Taiji System can help us to understand our bodies and minds more deeply and to learn the methods to make them cleaner, clearer, quieter, and healthier. Taiji training teaches us not only how to train muscles, tendons and bones, but also to shape our intention, inner feeling, awareness and energy in order to achieve greater balance and health in our lives.
© Jeff Reid 'Zi He'
16th Generation Wudang Sanfeng Pai
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Article published in 'ElBudoka', Martial Arts pioneer magazine in spanish language: