Tai Ji Quan

Taiji: Quan and Yi

The body has its intrinsic patterns of energy and the mind has its too, and it is natural to want to explore their relationship. In the martial context, this leads us to consider the relation between the fist (quan 拳) and the mind (yi 意).

These workshops explore the connections between the psychological energies represented by the symbols of the Yijing (I Ching) and the physical energies explored in the art of Taiji Quan (Tai Chi Chuan). Both of these systems are based on a systematic analysis of the patterns of Yin and Yang. In the Yijing, the result is a symbolic language for describing patterns of change; whilst in Taiji Quan, the result is a set of physical exercises and martial techniques.

Each of the eight trigrams in the Book of Change represents a fundamental energy in the world. The minimal and maximal energies are Pure Yin , the absolutely Receptive, the base of empty space; and Pure Yang , the absolute Creative, the peak energy of pattern. In between these two extremes are the mixed patterns of Yin and Yang. The basic Yang energies are: Shock , an arousing spark; Flow , current and eddy; and Bound , an articulated limit. The basic Yin energies are: Open , a buoyant reservoir; Cohesion , light lick of flame; and Root , a penetrating softness.

Each of these metaphysical symbols corresponds to a particular form of physical energy in Taiji Quan. Empty space is closest realized in this context by Wuji Standing. Flow is rotation of the waist, opening. Also representing the ceaseless continuity of movement. Root comes from deep standing. Bound is locking and controlling. Cohesion is adhering and sticking, also closing. Shock is releasing energy into the opponent. Open floats just beneath the opponent's force. These energies are not separate - they all inter-relate in an unfolding variety of ways. So, finally, Creative encompasses all the energies expressed through all the varieties of pattern. This is spontaneous fullness.

Yijing - Change EnergyIn this practice we explore these energies through a range of exercises, mostly drawn from the traditional Wu-Cheng syllabus, but also bringing in ideas from Xingyi Quan and Bagua Zhang. The exercises explore the relationships between Yin and Yang, helping to refine both martial technique and mental capacities. This results in a form of practice that we might refer to as Yijin (see the calligraphy on the left) - literally "Change Energies", a characterisation of the physical jins through the symbols of change.

They probably won't make much sense without having attended a workshop, but here are the handouts...