MovementIn the previous article, we considered how one of the foundations of taiji is expansion. This expansion provides us with a good infrastructure for movement - a movement that flows from within. Think of it like plumbing. By expanding the joints, we are opening the valves and turning on the taps. Our aim then is to make 'qi' flow through the pipes. To do this, our 'qi' has to be pumped from somewhere and must travel to somewhere.
What is this qi?I think that a particularly good translation of the word 'qi', is 'stuff'. Qi refers to all sorts of things, the most tangible being bodily matter (solids, fluids, and gases), such as metabolic by-products, blood, synaptic fluid, air, methane, etc. Stuff.
The exercises we study and practice in taiji get rid of 'binqi' - bad stuff. Things like lactic acid in the muscles, ammonium chloride in the joints, calcifications, stagnant joint fluid, puss, methane, and the like. Stuff that we would rather not have inside us, but nevertheless is present either because we put it there, or because it is produced by natural body processes.
It is reasonable to assume that there is an abundance of good stuff around us; fresh water, fresh air, fresh food, etc. So in taiji, we adopt the same strategy as breathing, eating, and drinking - we send out the stuff we have used and no longer need, which in so doing, causes a whole load of new, fresh stuff to flow in. And then we repeat ad infinitum.
So our internal movement within our plumbing system is always in an outward direction, sending all of the qi away.
The DestinationWe control where we send the stuff away to with our mind. We do this by thinking and focusing on the place we want our stuff to go to. It doesn't necessarily matter where that destination is, provided it isn't a person. Rather we choose our destination based on its distance (the further the better), the direction (the direction we want our qi to flow in), and how well we know the place (obviously it is easier to think of and focus on somewhere we know well).
The PumpIn order for the stuff to actually move through our newly opened plumbing system, it needs to be pumped. This is done by the 'lower dantian'. The lower dantian is a region in the abdomen, centrally located about halfway between the navel and genitals, and about a third of the way inside, in between the abdominal muscles.
The lower dantian is activated with certain exercises that I will be teaching in my classes. When it is activated, the lower dantian pumps qi through the body when we make all body movement originate from it. This process is easier to understand by demonstration and practice than by reading.
However, I really want to emphasise that making ALL body movement originate in the dantian, resulting in a flowing, joined-up movement, is the foundation to this process. If you are not doing this, then you are not doing taiji.
Come along to a class and try it out for yourself!