Achieving Emptiness in the Practice of Taijiquan

Taijiquan Emptiness!

When it comes to Tai chi Chuan, many people, even instructors, are doing the art backwards. In this post is the correct method for learning Taijiquan.

tai chi single whip picWhen one sets about really learning an internal martial art like Tai Chi Chuan, it is important to be empty. This doesn’t mean one should hold their body limply, but rather to be in a state of relaxation. If one is mentally and physically relaxed, then one is forsaking the muscular system, and this will lead one to an appreciation of the energy system within their bodies.

Don’t manifest energy, rather, learn to input the sensations of the world. If one is manifesting, if one is putting energy forth, then sensation coming in is unable to get through the energy going out. If one is walking around all day and manifesting energy, also called chi power, then at the very least perceptions will be slanted and out of true.

As the body ceases to manifest energy, the student will begin to grow an appreciation for the space of his body. This is an actual ‘universe’ wherein the student ceases to use his physical perceptions and instead uses awareness to see all the nooks and crannies, the never ending space, inside his body. Successful in this, the student will become aware that there is energy in the space…all he has to do is relax and let his chi grow.

It can be frustrating in the beginning, the energy building in the body will evade the student’s attempts to grow and harness it. The student will eventually come to the understanding that the harder he tries, the more difficult it is to make chi power. And, he will come to an understanding that the less effort he puts forth, the more chi power will come into existence.

When it first manifests, the energy will be like a huge wave, like water sloshing back and forth in a hot tub. The real reason for the form, and for the body, will become easy to see. The body makes energy, it is like a big old battery, and the form is a method for making that battery work.

With practice, raw energy will become refined chi power, able to be directed through the body, put into technique, and the student will become a superior human being. He will see that the form is a way to train the mind to flow the chi, until one can just flow the chi without the form. At this point, the doors are open, and life as a human being becomes a blessing, an opportunity, and the student travels through a gateway to ever greater realities.

To sum up, there are several stages in tajiquan. Ascending these stages depends upon the students ability to reach a state of relaxation, and to let his own internal energy manifest. Done correctly, the taijiquan learning experience becomes a method to change a human being into a powerful spiritual being.

zen martial arts

This has been a page about learning Tai Chi Chuan.


2 thoughts on “Achieving Emptiness in the Practice of Taijiquan

  1. Matt Russo

    The empty self.   Thinking about matrixing (I will use your language):  I see arguments like ‘ideas are more important than execution’.  It seems that folks are  ‘half-minded’ and make arguments either for creativity (flow) but against linearity (force).  Or they are against creativity (flow) but for linearity (force).    But what they don’t see is force and flow (fusion).  And that is what you wrote happens when you use a matrix (combines the mosaic (1st level) with linear (2nd level), or ‘east and west’).    But that is still the beginning, the level of inputting or training.  The next level is the level of intuition (third level) that goes beyond both left and right brain.  It is at a stage beyond the training - and you will also learn from that.  There are still things outside of a matrix that you need to perceive, and can do so…  


  2. Matt Russo

    BTW, you are right in this.  It is when we are powerful in the internal aspects that we do not notice it, except when our partners start to tell us about it.  Because it feels like ‘nothing’, but it is something. In the external arts, there is tension involved, so it feels like ‘something’, unlike the relaxation of the internal arts that feels like ‘nothing’.  Therefore, ‘non doing’.

    You also wrote about that in Matrix Karate saying that the real power is not in force but in emptiness because then you can flow in any direction, including force.

    Thank you for this email.





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