Well, here we go again. The most recent rendition of The Five Levels of Taijiquan by Chen Xiaowang with commentary by Jan Silberstorff. If one hundred people study Taijiquan, then be only five of these people can then it is not necessary to know these five levels, however, it will improve your. Most people want know what they can do to improve their tai chi training. According to Master Chen, there are five levels of proficiency in tai chi training.
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L ib rary o f C o n g re ss C a ta lo g in g in P u b lic a tio n D ata. X iaow ang. C hen. The five levels o f taijiquan / Grandm aster C hen X iaow nng ；com m entary . Chen has great knowledge of the art and the poetic Taijiquan classics, but chooses to explain the concepts in as practical term as possible. Author: Australian. Chen Xiaowang Levels of Taijiquan - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File . txt) or read online. The Five Levels of Taijiquan with commentary by Master
Chen Xiao Wang Chan Si Gong or Silk Reeling Exercises are training techniques that cultivate qi flow and unlock the spiraling movements characteristic of Chen style taijiquan. These techniques combine efficient qi flow with integrated body movement. Students train in taiji principles derived from the traditional Chen forms; Laojia old frame , Xinjia new frame , and Xiajia small frame. It is an excellent introduction to Chen style Taijiquan and a perfect solution for those, with limited time, who are looking for a shorter form. Master Chen deleted repeated movements and simplified a few difficult movements from Laojia Yi lu and Xinjia Yi lu, while preserving the characteristics of traditional Chen Style Taijiquan. This 76 posture form contains the foundation of classic movements that unitize the silk reeling techniques, characteristic of Chen Taijiquan.
No really new ability has arisen. My stance and actions collapse, just as before. Of course this causes a bit offrustration, because now apparently, I can do it all, and it feels great, but all the same, it still isn't really working. On the other hand, the feeling may grow thar Taijiquan is nonsense. I am good at ir, but still nothing is really happening, nothing is any different.
The understanding of the internal processes - that are coming next - is there superficially, but is so hard to grasp and so difficult to apply that this is enough for me ro slide into depression.
All this occurs ar rhe beginning of Level 2 when outwardly nothing new is added and the feeling easily arises that nothing is 21 The Five Levels of Taijiquan happening, I am making no progress even though I am practising every day. Often this happens unconsciously; it becomes too internal, and I do not want to face the real problems. To talk about it and to pretend to be a great master is much easier than getting to grips with the real difficulties.
At this point many bail out. Either consciously, because they see these reasons and say: 'I'm not doing this. Or they believe that they learned everything akeady, and stop coming to classes- 'I continue practising by myself and I know it is for the best, and I have to work through this. I already know everything they teach in the classes, so I might as well do it by myself at home. If after three years they once again attempt Pushing Hands, they will'See that they are iust as bad as they were three years before.
This means no development has happened.
I like to take Pushing Hands as an example because it is a great means of testing certain things beyond the possibility of doubt- Of course it is the same with all other aspects of Taijiquan. Are you more relaxed?
Do you still get upset over as many trivial matters as before? Of course this can be tested on many other levels.
For example, health: do I catch cold significantly less frequently than before? But let's keep it simple.
Let's stay with Taijiquan as a maftial art. The Taiji scene is quite diverse and the majority has no interest in the martial arts aspects.
However, this is irrelevant for training, because 95 per cent of training occurs only with and within myself. Traditionally, Taijiquan does not make use of sparring or punchbag practice, such as we are familiar with from the so-called external and modern systems. This is definitely not a big part of the training. The path is basically the same for someone 22 Introduction to the Fiye Lwels of Gong Fu in Taijiquan who is interested in martial arts as it is for someone who is not or even disapproves of it.
Standing meditation is still standing meditation. The corrections are no different. Nothing is different. Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang confines himself in his article about the five levels to the marrial application of the system as an indicator of success.
Therefore I will also mostly use this reasoning in my commentary. But, again, as a reminder: All achievements which show progress in the martial arts aspect also show progress in health and spiritual developmenr. This is rrue as long as the training follows the correct path and is done in the full sense of 'Wude'.
About 99 per cent of Taiji practitioners students as well as teachers worldwide are at Level 1 and the beginning of Level 2. After the second half of Level 2, suddenly something happens. Now I am past this difficult phase and I suddenly notice a real inrensity of the internal and external connections.
Now I am becoming aware of the truth of these principles, because they are slowly starting to have an effect within me.
This is why one rhing or another is starting to work, even during Pushing Hands. Now I notice a distinct difference frofo before. I caristand better. I am able to do many things I could not do before. Locking techniques that are being used on me lose their effectiveness.
My own locks are hard to escape. I suddenly can feel more energy, and can control it better. I can do many things I could only read about in the past.
Above all, though, my body-mind awareness is changing and so a pafticnlar change occurs relatively spontaneously. No longer do I have to force myselF to practise 'I should practise because my teacher says so' , but rather the opposite.
Now practising is very enjoyable. Now begins the phase in which some people want to limit their other hobbies or activities, so that they can practise more. Visits to the movies become less frequent, so the forms can be practised.
This is because an energy connection has occurred within the body which results in a very pleasant sense of well-being. This feeling is now more important than the one I used to get from going to the movies or drinking certain quantities of alcohol.
After all, we strive all day after feelings of comfort, and not all of them are healthy. Not all of them deliver meaningful development. Here we have a meaningful development that can develop a sense of well-being which is much more profound than the one we get from unhealthy habits such as smoking, unhealthy eating, or drugs. After having this experience it is much easier to choose Taijiquan. Now it is easy to give up unhealthy habits. I notice how this 'Taiji experience' keeps pulling me more and more away from unhealthy activities.
In the past I may have enjoyed being at a party very much, but practising Taiji rhe next day l,poticed right away that I had sacrificed a little bit of progress. Now I prefer to just make a short visit to the partY - or not go at all and bontinue practising normally the next day, without - any loss. It simply It is no longer a rational decision. And this brings us to the next point. I do get this feeling, but it is not yet consistent.
It disappears again. That also depends a little on how I feel that day. It is the same in Pushing Hands. Some things are starting to work, but others are still not. My structure still collapses partly, I fall, or my locks are not as effective as I would like them to be. This is abopt the middle of Level2' From the end of Level 1 to the beginning of Level 2 is generally the phase in which Westerners like ta practise a log of Pushing Hands, albeit in a framework in which a certain level of energy is left out, a quiet, soft framework, so to speak, which usually shows disapproval if someone is too aggressive or wants to push too hard.
This is perhaps because one does not Possess this martial character, or want to. Many in the'Taiji scene' do not have the quality of wanting to 'fight'. The 'aggression' isn't accepted. On the other hand, one intuitively feels that one wouldn't even pass this test. Both these reasons can also overlap. In any event, the majoriry of people in this 24 Introduction to tbe Fiye Leyek of Gong Fu in Taijiquan sphere has not yet reached or completed Level 2.
When the level of ability rises one begins to be more interested in the more serious and higher energy applications, because intuitively one can take a more secure position and 'hold one's ground'.
This only begins in the middle of Level 2, and therefore it is sensible to practise only with soft energy up to this point.
Of course there is also a small group of practitioners who only want to push and fight and do not care for the principles. This group is certainly open to 'going a little harder'.
HoweveE we are concerned here with real development and not with eternally repeating competition without progress. It is clear, then, that by the middle of Level 2 I had already learned something real. Whenever I do something calmly and softly it is possible for me - in contrast to Level 1 - to notice certain things and to deal with them, which means that I can induce change, yielding while I advance elsewhere, or keeping my balance while my opponent's balance is broken, etc.
This is the normal game which is practised during most Pushing Hands meets in the,West. This type of Pushing Hands with its slow and soft movements can be done with great success beginning from the middle of Level 2. One rarely loses. If, however, one is pushed aggressively, one usually goes flying. This changes in Level 3. Now it is no longer so important to me whether my partner is gentle with me or whether he pushes me harder, because now it is no more of a threat to me than gentle pushing was in the past.
This can even be good for me, because now I can deal with my mistakes on a more difficult level. Therefore it is not a problem if I get pushed more aggressively. Nothing happens anymore' in the truest sense of the word. Now we can seriously start to talk about the art of self-defence.
This is the beginning of serious Gong Fu; of cultivation. In his description of the completion of Level 2, the grandmaster writes of an undisciplined but 'new hand' which one has acquired, and at Level 3 he writes expressly of skill; even if not at a very high level, seen from the perspective of the highest level. There are correspondingly fewer at Level 4. And hardly anybody has achieved Level 5. Within the Taiji scene, most happens at Level 1. Those teachers known as 'good', in the West as well as the East, are in the first half of Level 2, with a few exceptions.
In the middle of Level 2 they are often times already called masters. Whoever has mastered Level 3 enters a stage in which he has developed real qualities and in which he can no longer deviate lrom the path; even if he only continues to practise by himself.
Although we will probably never see Chen Fake in action, by watching some of his students we can get an impression of how the great man might have moved.
Chen Zhaoxu was famous for his fajing issuing power and an jing hidden jing. He was also a famed practitioner of the Laojia. He had the potential to be one of the great masters of the twentieth century, but died in prison during the cultural revolution. Son of Chen Fake and father of Chen Yu. Chen Zhaokuei began learning taijiquan from his father when he was just eight and Feng Zhiqiang was his close friend and sparring partner.
Chen Zhaokuei was famous for his Xinjia new frame and chin na joint locking skills. I posed this question to Master Chen, and replied that just as we learn to crawl before we walk and walk before we run, tai chi training is done a progressive way.
He emphasizes that initial training in the basic principles provides the foundation on which more advanced skills are built. You must be patient and master one level before attempting the next. Progress in tai chi does not depend on how many forms you have learned, but rather on how well you are able to absorb and integrate the principles in your form. It does not matter which style of tai chi you practice or whether your stance is high or low. What important is that you are able to harness your chi and circulate it to all parts of your body.
Your movements will then look soft yet powerful, your demeanor relaxed yet alert. According to Master Chen, there are five levels of proficiency in tai chi training, as described here, and each has its own aims and training methods. Knowing these can help you assess your own level of achievement and what you need to work on to make progress. Level One: Form and Posture Correct posture forms the foundation of tai chi chuan.
To adopt the correct posture, keep the body vertical, the head held as if suspended from above, the shoulders and chest relaxed, the waist supple, the knees bent, and the groin open. Let your intrinsic chi settle and sink to the dan tian, or lower abdomen.
You may not be able to do this straight away, but aim for gradual correctness in relation to direction, angle, position, and movement of the limbs to attain the right postures. Do not aim for perfection.
Your tai chi form will be angular and disconnected. This is normal for a beginner. With diligent and proper practice, after six months you should be able to master the shape of the form. You will also start to feel the chi in your body. At this stage, you are using the movement to generate the chi. As you become more familiar with the form, you will begin to understand the intrinsic jin, or dynamic energy. This stage is said to be one yin and nine yang.
It is like a pole that is poked into the ground. Being shallow and lacking a proper base, it is easily pushed over. At this stage, there is too much yang and not enough yin. Sparring and push-hands are not recommended. Level Two: Chi Flow At this level, you will begin to feel the movement of the intrinsic chi. Keep practicing the form to gain more fluidity and smoothness of movement. Do not bob up and down. Keep an even height of posture throughout. Although you are now able to feel the intrinsic chi, you are not yet able to direct it.
There are two reasons for this. First, your chi is uncoordinated and your posture is not quite right. For example, in trying to hollow the chest, you collapse it too much, or in trying to keep the waist supple, you make it too loose. Or you may stick your buttocks out too far and push your chest forward.
Your posture will need to be adjusted in order for you to gain proper coordination of the body and eliminate all contradictions of purpose, to gain unity of the internal with the external. Internal harmony means that the heart unites with the mind, the chi with the strength, and the sinews with the bones. External harmony means that the hand is coordinated with the feet, the elbow with the knee, and the shoulder with the hips.
It is only then that the external is unified with the internal, where the open exists within the closed, and the closed exists within the open.