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Training Requirements

Taijiquan requirements are written in a Chinese poetic rhythm where five letters phrases are used and it is my intention to get this in it's original phrases to be memorized so that during practice the practitioner can remember the requirements.

The Chen style Taijiquan training requirements are as below:
  • 虚领顶劲 (xū lǐng dǐng jìn)
  • 立身中正 (lìshēn zhōngzhèng)
  • 松肩沉肘 (sōng jiān chén zhǒu)
  • 含胸塌腰 (hán xiōng tā yāo)
  • 心气下降 (xīn qì xià jiàng)
  • 呼吸自然 (hū xī zì rán)
  • 松胯屈膝 (sōng kuà qū xī)
  • 裆劲开圆 (dāng jìn kāi yuán)
  • 虚实分明 (xū shí fēn míng)
  • 上下相随 (shàng xià xiāng suí)
  • 刚柔相济 (gāng róu xiāng jì)
  • 快慢相间 (kuài màn xiāng jiàn)
  • 外形走弧线 (wài xíng zǒu hú xiàn)
  • 内劲走螺旋 (nèi jìn zǒu luó xuán)
  • 以身领手 (yǐ shēn lǐng shǒu)
  • 以腰为轴 (yǐ yāo wèi zhóu)

Meaning of 虚领顶劲 (xū lǐng dǐng jìn):

虚领顶劲 (xū lǐng dǐng jìn) is the most important and elusive of all the taijiquan requirements. There are many different interpretations on this requirement, some to the extend to stick up the head awkwardly like a tortoise that blocks chi flow. 虚领顶劲 (xū lǐng dǐng jìn) actually means to keep the head upright, chin slightly tuck in and the mind calm. In Chen Xin's book, he explained it as an imaginary string pulling upward the Bai Hui (DU20) acupuncture point. When the head is as if suspended or raised upward, the resulting position of the head enable it to turn freely and aids the balance of the body.

Keeping the head upright may sounds simple but in actual practice, beginner will usually sway the head either to the left and right or up and down.

Meaning of 立身中正 (lìshēn zhōngzhèng):

立身中正 (lìshēn zhōngzhèng) means keeping the body upright. If the body is not held upright then there will be excessive muscular activites leading to stiffness. Again, keeping the body upright sounds really simple but in actual practice, most people simply do not know how to stand up straight or can't stand straight. Most of the time we either tilt to one side or lean backwards. This creates stiffness around the spine and across the body and hip.

Meaning of 松肩沉肘 (sōng jiān chén zhǒu):

松肩沉肘 (sōng jiān chén zhǒu) means drop your shoulders and sink the elbow. 松 (sōng) means relax and relax in taijiquan context is to loosen the muscle strain to prevent stiffness. The prevention of shoulder stiffness allow chi to flow freely from the chest to the shoulder, elbow and then to the hand.

Meaning of 含胸塌腰 (hán xiōng tā yāo):

含胸塌腰 (hán xiōng tā yāo) means keeping the chest slightly curve inwards and waist slightly pressed forward. Simple enough, yet a lot of time this is misunderstood by hunching the back.

Meaning of 心气下降 (xīn qì xià jiàng):

心气下降 (xīn qì xià jiàng) means sink the qi to the dantian and lower parts of the body. It is the same as 气沉丹田 (qì chén dān tián). The purpose of 松肩沉肘 (sōng jiān chén zhǒu), 含胸塌腰 (hán xiōng tā yāo) and 心气下降 (xīn qì xià jiàng) is basically to relax the upper body portion and keep the upper body in balance for front, back, left and right.

Meaning of 呼吸自然 (hū xī zì rán):

呼吸自然 (hū xī zì rán) means breath naturally.

Meaning of 松胯屈膝 (sōng kuà qū xī):

松胯屈膝 (sōng kuà qū xī) means to relax the hip and keep the knees bent. Slightly bend your knees, and slightly tuck the lower pelvis forward, as if about to sit down. This will relax the the hip or “kua”.

Meaning of 裆劲开圆 (dāng jìn kāi yuán):

裆劲开圆 (dāng jìn kāi yuán) means keeping inner side of the thighs and the genital area in an arch shape like a bridge.

Meaning of 虚实分明 (xū shí fēn míng):

虚实分明 (xū shí fēn míng) means to keep the mind pure and clear. Look forward and the ear concentrate to listen at the back.

Meaning of 上下相随 (shàng xià xiāng suí):

上下相随 (shàng xià xiāng suí) is to keep the upper and lower part of the body movement synchronized.

Meaning of 刚柔相济 (gāng róu xiāng jì)

刚柔相济 (gāng róu xiāng jì) means to adjust hardness and softness accordingly.

Meaning of 快慢相间 (kuài màn xiāng jiàn):

快慢相间 (kuài màn xiāng jiàn) means to practice fast and slow pace intermittently.

Meaning of 外形走弧线 (wài xíng zǒu hú xiàn) and 内劲走螺旋 (nèi jìn zǒu luó xuán):

This two phrase have to be used together. 外形走弧线 (wài xíng zǒu hú xiàn) means the outer part of body moves in arch shape while 内劲走螺旋 (nèi jìn zǒu luó xuán) means the internal force churn in spiral form. Basically this is what taijiquan is all about. It is qi moving in the Fibonacci spiral form.

Meaning of 以身领手(yǐ shēn lǐng shǒu):

以身领手(yǐ shēn lǐng shǒu) means that the body leads the hand. In another words, the dantian leads all movements.

Meaning of 以腰为轴 (yǐ yāo wèi zhóu):

以腰为轴 (yǐ yāo wèi zhóu) is to take the waist as the main movement axis.