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From the Wu Tai Chi Journal (please click here)
Before (xian) and after (hou)
By Wang Pinzheng
When a calligrapher is writing, his imagination (yi) resides first in his brush. When a painter starts painting a picture, he already has a clear image of it in his mind. This is because they first think about what to do. This is related to the demand in Taijiquan to ’Lead the qi with the heart/mind (xin). Move the body with qi.’ and ’Imagination (yi) and qi as the rulers – bones and flesh as the servants’ In Taijiquan also one emphasises before and after: ’The ruler gives orders to the subject.’ This short sentence means that imagination and qi control the movements.
In the book Wu style Taichichuan the first movement is called ’Preparation (yubeishi)’. This movement completely embodies the meaning of ’Imagination and qi control the movement’. When performing the preparation you should pay attention to three aspects:
1) The body is upright. Erect head and empty neck (xuling dingjin). Expand the chest downward and lift the upper back (huilin dingjin). The arms hang down naturally (ziran) and the feet are parallel and shoulder width apart. The knees are very slightly bent. In this posture the upper part of the body is relaxed (empty like the heart/mind) and the lower part of the body is strong (full). This is a ’harmonious body’.
2) The mouth is lightly closed. You breathe deeply through the nose. Let the air sink slowly to the dantian (near the navel). After breathing in, you slowly breathe out through the nose. When the chest is expanded downward, the diaphragm can move freely.Thus it creates the movement of breathing in and out. This is ’harmonious breathing’.
3) Both eyes are calm and do not wander around. You free yourself of confused thoughts. The visual focus is kept inside. Other thoughts are dropped. This is a ’harmonious heart/mind’.