1.         Head Upright so Spirit can reach the Crown        Xu Ling Ding Jin

  • emptying the thoughts & raising the head
  • empty, lively, pushing up & energetic

The head should be upright so the Shen or (spirit) can reach the top of your head. Don’t use Li (force), or the neck will be stiff and the chi (breath) and blood can not flow through to the head. The feeling should be natural and buoyant. Remember, if your head is not up your spirit will not be raised.

2.       Sink the Chest & draw up the Back                         Han Xiong Ba Bei

  • hollowing the chest to raise the back
  • hold in the chest & pull up the back
  • depress the chest & raise the upper back

The chest is slightly sunken so that the chi can sink to the dantien, If the chi gets stuck in the chest, the body will become top heavy and you will be easily uprooted. The back should be lifted or plucked up to avoid promoting a hunched back (kyphosis) and also as a way to release power (jin) through the spine.  

3.       Relax the Waist                                                          Song Yao

  • relax & loosen the waist
  • loosening up the waist

The waist is the commander in charge of your whole body. If you can relax your waist then your legs will have the power and your lower parts will be stable and strong. It is said that the origin of the postures (jins) comes from the waist. If you lack power, the defect is in the legs and waist.

4.       Coordinate the Upper & Lower Body                       Shang Xia Xiang Sui

  • synchronize movement of upper & lower body

The classics tell us that “the motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist and manifested through the fingers.” The whole body moves as one unit, nothing broken or disconnected between upper and lower body. Opening the Mingmen on the lower back (yao) and turning from the hip joint (kwa) helps this union between upper and lower body.

5.       Sink the Shoulders & drop the Elbows                    Chen Jian Zhui Zhou

  • sinking the shoulder & weighting down the elbow

Your shoulders should be completely relaxed downward and open to the sides, the opposite of this is uptight with the shoulders lifted up and in, this is a powerless state. Sink the elbows, this means that your elbows move downward and stay relaxed, if you raise the elbows the shoulders also go up. Keeping the shoulders and elbows down gives your body internal power that can be used to throw your opponent far. The health benefits of this principle are too numerous to name here.

6.       Move with Continuity                                                 Xiang Lian Bu Duan

  • continuity joined & unbroken
  • continuously & without interruption

From beginning to end Tai Chi movement is continuous and not broken, after each movement its starts again circulating without any end. It is circular in motion like a continuous wave without limits. The classics tell us the circulation of (jin) is like pulling silk, everything is connected together. The form does allow for a brief rest at the end of the movement before going onto the next. The classics tell us the jin is broken the yi is not.

7.       Stillness within Motion                                              Dong Zhong Qiu Jing

  • move with tranquility
  • seek quiescence within movement

In Tai Chi we use stillness to control movement, even though we are moving, there is still stillness. It is good to practice your form slowly, with calmness and awareness. Meditation alone always seeks movement in stillness, but in Tai Chi Chuan we seek stillness in movement. Tai Chi is known as moving meditation.

8.       Distinguish between Empty & Full                           Fen Xu Shi

  • distinguish between substantial & insubstantial
  • separate empty & full

This is one of the very first things you will learn in Tai Chi Chuan. If the weight is on the right leg, then the right leg is substantial and the left leg is insubstantial. When these can be separated and consciously acknowledged, you will be able to turn lightly without using any tension or stress. If you cannot get this concept your step will be heavy and slow and your stance will not be steady, then you will easily be thrown off balance.

9.       Use the Mind (Yi) & not Force (Li)                            Yong Yi Bu Yong Li

  • using intention & not physical strength
  • use your will & not your force

When practicing Tai Chi Chuan your whole body relaxes. The tai chi chuan classics tell us to use (yi) the mind, and not (li) force. When you practice tai chi chuan the whole body relaxes, not even letting one ounce of force remain anywhere in the body. When this is achieved you become agile and able to change easily. The classics say when you are extremely soft, then you become extremely hard and strong. A person with these qualities will have arms like iron wrapped in cotton and the weight of them is very heavy. This is a powerful state of being in Yang Tai Chi.

10.     Harmonize the Internal & External                           Nei Wai Xiang He

  • coordination of the internal & external
  • match up inner & outer

Called the 6 harmony’s, we will start with the 3 Internal harmony’s (San Nei He)

  1. Shen / Yi (Spirit / Mind or Intention) - When the spirit (Shen) is raised the mind/ intention (Yi) can focus.
  2. Yi / Qi (Intention / Energy) - Now that the intention (Yi) is high, the energy (Qi) is full and follows.
  3. Qi / Li (Energy / Body) -  When the energy (Qi) is activated, the body is pulled, these are the 3 Internal Harmony’s. 

The 3 External energies (San Wei He) are

  1. Shoulder / Hip.
  2. Elbow / Knees.  
  3. Hand / Foot.  

As you move, the external body co-ordinates as you relax (fang song) the shoulders into the hips, the elbows into the knees and the hands into the feet.  Relaxing into the movements sends the energy and blood (QiXue) out to the limbs, now the whole body is nourished, regulating blood pressure, relaxing the soft tissues and veins/arteries and calming the entire nervous system.  The mind and body are now working together through the 6 harmony’s as we practice our form.  The Tai Chi Classics say the body moves as one unit, however in applying these 6 harmony’s  we can see that although the body moves as one unit, it does not all move at the same time.