Qi Shi is the opening movement. When this first form is correct then the complete form will be done well.
To complete this movement one must feel the energy as the body relaxes. The energy sinks even before moving. When the arms feel heavy they start to raise up and to extend. The chest is slightly concave and the back is slightly out. Extend and feel the back open. The arms stretch far forward, but not too far .In extending the arms the shoulder joint opens. At shoulder level the arms start to lower and to push the air until they reach hip level. The hips relax. The hip joint relaxes.The Ming Men is out a little and it protects the organs.
Before turning to the left turn slightly to the right. The left arm is peng and extends and connects all of the joints so there is no blockage. When the left arm is peng it is easier for the right side to have peng. When one side is missing peng it is easy for the other side to be missing peng. There should be peng in 360 degrees. Peng on the outside means that there is connection on the inside. The elbow, the hand all contact and connect to the Dan Tian. When there is connection the body is filled with energy.
When practicing taiji the mind becomes calm like still water. When a lake is still it is like a mirror and we can see reflections. When water is moving we cannot see reflections. Still the mind like the lake water to read one’s posture, to feel one’s energy.
Training is like being water, then like oil, then like honey.
The white crane spreads its wings is the 7th form in Lao Jia Yi Lu (Old Form First Frame) and it is repeated several times. In this form the left hand faces down and is connected with the left knee energetically. It is connected to the earth and is heavy. The right hand is up and is light and connected to heaven. The two hands are energetically connected with each other and there is an elastic-like feeling of opening and closing of the hands and arms with and to each other.
The right shoulder is connected with the left hip; right elbow with left knee; right wrist with left ankle. And naturally, left shoulder with right hip, etc.
Also, the right shoulder connects with the right hip; right elbow with right knee; right wrist with right ankle. Likewise the left shoulder connects with the left hip and so forth.
The second posture of Lao Jia Yi Lu (Old Frame, First Form) is Jin Gang Dao Dui, Buddha’s Attendant Pounding the Mortar. When Jin Gang Dao Dui is completed well with all of its component segments completed consciously and correctly, then the whole form will be completed well. In this form, focus on the crotch being open- dang, with the knees slightly in. The toes grab the floor and the foot sticks to the floor. The body is upright, thus there Is no internal twisting of the organs. The organs remain upright and stay in the right place.
Peng is held without being stiff; one is loose without collapsing. The knee stays close with the elbow and protects the crotch. Leave the crotch open, yet close with the knee and elbow. The arms are not too close to the body and are loose and peng. The arm pits have a fist space, or the space of an egg between the arm and the body.
When the arm is brought up to shoulder height the body stays loose which allows the chi to move.
Notice the connection of hand to wrist to elbow to shoulder. They are aligned and follow each other in one direction.
When turning the hand or moving the hand notice that it does not pass the center of the body.
The chest is lightly sunk and the back slightly bowed in a natural position. The body remains loose yet closed and not tight.
Check the elbows: the side, front, back. The front is peng which creates back peng automatically. Loose peng in front will have loose peng in back.
The head is in control of balance, in all of the postures or forms. The head is held straight and is pulled upward as if it were being pulled with a puppet-like string. At the same time the seat is pulled downward to the ground. This causes a slight stretching.
At the end of the form(s) the body sinks. The energy drops through to the ground.
Ding is the central part of the body, the core. One can feel this ding as one gives a slight gentle push up with the top of the head. This push is not stiff and is not hard on the neck. The chin is dropped to a natural position, neither stretched upward nor dropped. Slightly push the chin inward which will slightly raise the crown of the head. It is as if there was a thread gently pulling the head up The shoulders drop with relaxation.. At the same time the thread gently pulls the center of the core of the body down to the earth. Ding has the meaning of being upright, straight.
On November 2015 Master Wang stated that if a person practices taiji for 30 years without ding that it is as if the person had never practiced taiji.
Open refers to the state of being peng. Peng is a rounded, arched form to the body that produces an equalized pressure to all sides similar to that found with a basketball. Think of the body as an inflated ball with equalized pressure going out from all sides, and coming in from all sides. Peng gives great strength to the body, making it, in a way, invincible. It is difficult to push in on a basketball, or on a person whose body is peng. Also, roundness deflects incoming forces. When a force hits an inflated ball the force bounces away in a trajectory. The force spins the ball, and the ball remains stable. This roundness, this openness is held, not with force, power, or strength. Peng is held with looseness, from which comes agility, flexibility, and the strength found in an object that has equalized pressures from all sides.
When peng one can easily change direction. Peng in one direction leads to peng in the next direction. In peng one should feel connection to all parts of the body, within all parts of the body. Peng does not reach too far, nor does it collapse.
Peng is achieved with the loosening of all of the joints. The feeling of looseness is found with proper peng.
Proper posture results in the development of chi.
The middle joint of the finger is the “finger stomach”. In taiji practice this “stomach” is extended, is peng, is stretched out and strong. This stretching is coincidental with the tiger’s mouth hand. Tiger’s mouth hand is open and closed at once. The small finger and the thumb reach toward each other, and away–open and closed at once creating a “mouth”. The hand in total is shaped like a “roof tile” (look for images of Chinese roof tiles that are flatly rounded in form).
The” monkey mind” is never still. It is the mind that roams topic to topic often unbidden and untrained. In taiji, as we train, we keep bringing the mind back into the body. The mind wanders; we bring the mind back to the body. What muscles are felt and how, and how are they connected? Where is it heavy or light; tight or loose? How is the foot connected to the hand? Do we notice how the dantien is connected to the body in each movement? What is the breathing like? Is the breath long, smooth, deep? Are we in balance, centered? And even as we think such thoughts it is not the thoughts but the feeling of the body, the mind in the body that is the practice.
Put the mind to the inside of the body for internal focus. When the mind goes away one cannot sense the feelings in the body. When one gets feeling in the body the body gets stronger. The spirit concentrates when the mind is not going outside of the body. When the mind is in the body you can feel the energy and then put the mind with the energy.
Concentration on the postures brings the internal energy into the body.
Slow movements help the body to relax and to watch the timing of the body’s movements. This helps to stop the mind.