By CHEN XIAOWANG
Translated by Bu See Min Jasmine.
Learning Chenjiagou Taijiquan is similar to learning other forms of sports. There are some basic facts and training requirements which will be helpful to know. I hope that what I have delineated bellow will benefit all who love learning Taijiquan.
1. When learning Taijiquan, do try and practice in a place which is quiet, peaceful and the air is circulating freely throughout. The ground that you are practicing on should be level as well. If practicing outdoors, pick a spot which is not too windy. When you are practicing indoors, do leave the windows open to let the fresh air circulate around the room, as the fresh air will have positive effects on your health and for training.
2. There’s a saying for learning martial arts, “(er shang qi, bao shang wei)”. This is practical commonsense which states that when you’re hungry, training harms your qi, and when you’re too full, training will harm the digestive system. When you’re too hungry or too full, you should not go into too taxing a training routine. If you have to train soon after a meal, do make sure that it is only a very light training workout.
3. Always start from a high stance to loosen up the joints. When you feel sufficiently relaxed and warmed up, you can then practice at the more demanding middle to low stances. This way, you lessen the chances of getting a muscle pulled or other sports injury.
4. After your training, please do not sit down immediately to rest. Do walk about a bit to let your breathing regulate itself back to its normal mode before sitting down.
5. Do take note that with martial arts training, you must not try to accelerate your progress by over-exerting your own limits. It does not work that way, there are no short cuts, and it means you must train yourself in stages, bit by bit. Train with moderation. Adjust the frequency of your training, the intensity and the level of difficulty based on the height of your stances according to your age group, fitness level and physical health. As a rule of thumb, if you feel relaxed, comfortable and alert after training, it means you have trained at your optimal intensity and level (that is just right for you). On the other hand, if you feel shaky, tired, and take longer than others to recover your breath, it means you have trained beyond your body’s capacity. In this instance, you must tone down your training activity accordingly.
6. A proverbial saying goes that, ”(lian quan ru ni shui xing zhou, bu jing ci tui)”. Literally, this means learning Taijiquan is like a boat flowing against the current, if you are not determined in pushing your way forward, you will be swept backwards. The key to learning Taijiquan lies in your perseverance. As far as bodily fitness and self-defense skills are concerned, these will only materialize after you accumulate concerted, regular practice over a period of time. If you are in the habit of “(san tian da yu liang tian sai wang)”, it will be very difficult to evidence any improvement in your level of skill or foundation. The saying uses the example of a fisherman who casts his nets 3 days for fish and there after needs 2 days to rest and dry his nets. It is used to exemplify an individual who is weak-willed and lazy. Actually, learning Taijiquan will train up your self-discipline and determination. Even if you are not in the mood or feel lazy, you will be able to overcome these internal blocks and carry on with your own training. However, in this situation, start off your practice with a fairly relaxed stance level. When you have not fully controlled your inner emotions, you will not be able to concentrate on generating your qi. So if you try to train at the lower stances, you will not be able to maintain a line of connection for your qi, it will get broken easily, and your qi will not reach your “(shao jie)”; the tips of your extremities. When this happens, you will find your postures awakeward and it may have negative effects internally. So, when you are feeling low, please do not attempt to train intensely at low stances to trigger your mind and body to set off adrenalin, and to set you into the right mood. Only when you have sufficiently adjusted your mental and physical states, then you may practice at your regular intensity and level.
7. If women in their menstrual period continue with Taijiquan training at a suitable intensity, it will help to regulate and maintain the flow of blood and qi along the body’s meridians. As the saying “(tong ci bu tong, tong ci bu tong)” goes, when yur body feels pain, it means the balance in your body is disrupted. Conversely, you will not feel any discomfort when your body’s qi is flowing smoothly through the meridians. Hence, there is no harm in keeping up with a light dose of Taijiquan training. In fact, the Taijiquan training may even help to prevent or alleviate the various abdominal pains associated with having menstruation.
8. Women in their pregnancy may also continue with their Taijiquan practice. However, they should practice very gently, and it should not be vigorous or aggressive. For those movements which are more extreme, they can simply execute a rough approximation of them, so long as they do that with the intent firmly in mind (example: do not stamp your foot, do not fajing etc). Symptoms of bloatedness, constipation can be avoided during pregnancy simply by observing a light practice Taijiquan regularly. Metabolism will be improved as well and will facilitate an easier delivery. It is beneficial not only for the mother but for the foetus as well.
9. During training, if you feel thirsty or dryness in the throat, you may drink a little warm water to moisten your throat. After training, you should not consume cold liquids as well. This is because the heat generated in your body after the training will be in opposition to the coldness of the liquid. This causes an imbalance which disrupts the flow of blood and qi.
10. For your Taijiquan uniforms, you do not need to bind your waist tightly with sashes unlike other forms of martial arts. Just make sure that your fastening at the waist is right for you, and does not interfere with or obstruct your movement and breathing.
11. After your Taijiquan training, remember not to fan yourself or sit down immediately. Wipe your perspiration away quickly to prevent getting chilled. You must “(bi feng ru bi jian)” avoid the wind (getting chilled) like avoiding arrows.