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some notes* taken from Chen Xin's Illustrated Explanations of Chen Family Taijiquan1
by Dragi Bedina

The picture bellow shows silk reeling or spiraling of energy as general cosmic principle of taiji. It describes the position of human being in it and possibility of strengthening or regenerating one's energy. It also explains various types of qi and its workings:

The first pair of white and black paths represents the yin and yang forms of Taiji, freely existing within Wuji or No Extremes. The second combination of white and black paths represents Taiji engendering Two Forms (Liang-yi), which are actually the yin and yang substances of heaven and earth. The third white and black path is the symbol of Man as an embodiment of yin and yang qi, as well as the Five Phases of energy (Wu-xing) which enable humans to survive. The fourth white path is what Mencius called Haoran zhi Qi or magnificently Refined Energy; whilst the fourth black path represents the blood (xue) and qi energy of humans, which when combined with morality becomes Zheng-qi or Truly Refined Energy, the core of a healthy existence. The fifth white path represents the way of the mind (xin), by which True Refined Energy is well governed. When qi becomes un-regulated due to poor circulation and management, it becomes stuck. The general principle (li) lies within one's nature (xing) and is called character. The fifth black path is the human mind/heart or what sages and men of virtue called the personal mind/heart (si-xin). Various types of qi and picture itself are difficult to understand, because it is based on Chinese cosmology, medicine and philosophy. The author himself says it is not so important to remember its details, but to understand that it is in our capability to regenerate our life energy and herein lies the greatest benefit of taijiquan.

quotes are given in italics

The three large external circles stimulate the influence of yin and yang. The three internal circles indicate that yin and yang are being governed and represent what Man receives and holds in the third circle. This chart is not in fact of critical significance, but was created to aid people's understanding of qi regulation. The important point to note here is that all three internal circles rest within the third larger circle, whilst the third larger circle itself illustrates rests within the second one, which is placed within the first one, just like a set of nesting dolls. Hence, this diagram serves specifically to illustrate how to guard the core of one's life and the wonderful secret of regenerating qi once you begin to get good at moving qi, you can protect your life; and if you can protect your life, then you will be able to restore your nature. Once you can restore your nature by reproducing your intrinsic energy and accumulating it within yourself, you will be able to rely on your vital resources. That is why Taijiquan is considered beneficial both for your body and mind, as well as for your nature and fate. The sages of antiquity used to say that training one's body depends on the restoration of one's nature. In other words, the ability to protect one's life and regulate qi flow forms the core of a trained body, a cultivated character and a restored nature. The two following pictures show spiraling of energy or silk reeling in the body (front and back). They show energetic channels through which energy spirals and thus accumulates. But this is happening only when energy is running smoothly, without obstruction which means that such should also be our stances and movements. When energy or qi accumulates in such a way, it becomes purified, strong and we can use it for health or for martial art.

1. The primal source is in the mind/heart; 2. The HUI-YIN* acupoint, from which the front channel REN-MAI originates, is placed below QI-HAI. The whole body consists of a network of internal and external energy channels, both of which become apparent when a person moves. One channel runs from the front of the left hand through to the back of the right hand, then wraps around the front of the right hand and returns to the back of the left hand in a rotating flow (shun) to Author's note: Acupuncture point Hui-yin is on the perineum, at the midpoint between front and back openings between legs (source: http://tcmdiscovery.com/2007/823/200782316322.html). Author's note: Acupuncture point Qi-Hai is on the lower abdomen, 1.5 cun below the centre of the umbilicus (source: http://tcmdiscovery.com/2007/8-24/2007824163644.html).

close (he) or accumulate the energy. Another channel accumulates energy from the inner left side of the body and the back of the right side. There is also a channel through which energy returns to be accumulated at the back. All the energy channels function optimally when specific postures and bodily movements are performed naturally and smoothly. When the hand qi flows from the heel to the big toe thereby closing the loop and gathering energy, you can take a firm stance. Meanwhile, intrinsic force produced in the mind/heart enters one's bones and fills the skin, coalescing the body into a single stream of power. This intrinsic force is the qi that comes out from the mind/heart. When the energy is generated and regenerated from a central power source (your mind/heart), it becomes Zhong-qi or Centralized Intrinsic Energy. When it is nourished constantly, it is converted into Haoran zhi Qi or Magnificently Refined Energy. Silk reeling in body (back view):

1. springing at acupoint HAI-DI* the back channel DU-MAI runs up along the clotted line to connect to the front channel. The energy accumulated at the back of the body and the crown of the head is called Ding-jin or Top Energy (or Top Intrinsic Force). The spine forms the dividing line below which there is the small of the back. The central bone is the backbone and both kidneys are placed at the back. Whether the foot is empty or solid depends on the position of the hand -when the hand is empty, the corresponding foot is empty too; if the hand is solid, then the corresponding foot is also solid. Chen Xin in a quote above gives clear principle how to distinguish between yin and yang, between solid and empty in taiji stances. How do we know when the leg is full or weighted and when not. According to him it depends on hands; if the hand is empty it will be also the leg and vice versa. In the following quote he describes various types of spiraling, that are used in the form and that are needed depending of the applications; whether we are attracting the opponent towards us or we are deflecting him, whether we are attacking or defending. He also says that taijiquan practitioners outwardly do not appear as fearful warriors, but inwardly they are mastering inner capabilities by which they are able to "produce the crash of a thousand hammers powerful enough to smash a hundred steel surfaces, then return instantly to softness." The silk-reeling method of Taijiquan includes various forms of coiling: forward and backward, left and right, upward and downward, inward and outward, small and

Translated as 'sea bottom', another name for acupoint HUI-YIN at the perineum.

big, direct rotation (shun) and reverse rotation (m). The methods are of paramount importance when using the Yin (attracting) and Jin (advancing) techniques. For both, the reeling works in a coiling form, no matter what sort of applications or postures are employed. Once the coiling begins, yin and yang start to interact with each other, changing their original condition. Practitioners of Taijiquan may give the external impression of being physically weak, but in terms of state of mind (shen-yun), they possesses hard as well as the soft qualities which may be used equally at will or according to situations such as hand-to-hand combat. Nonpractitioners find it hard to reconcile delicate Taiji postures such as relaxed and dropped shoulders and sunk-down elbows, which suggest a maiden's comportment, with the more aggressive tiger-like stances expected of a combatant. One's hands must function like a balance, such as when you weigh something in your hands, you can feel its weight. Likewise, the basic aim of martial arts practice is to cultivate the ability to 'weigh' the balance between you and the opponent with your heart/mind, so that you can respond accordingly, moving forward or backward, slow or fast. A person who is able to weigh visible signs and discern the invisible balances with their hands, adjusting his movement and weighting accordingly, is known to possess Magical Hands. Used literature and sources: Chen Xin (1849-1929): Illustrated Explanations of Chen Family Taijiquan (Beijing: Guanghua Publishing Ltd., 2008).