1- Master Yang Yuting Scheme of Graded Teaching and Learning

2 -What is meant by "Yi" and how to let "Yi" conduct the body?

Master Yang Yuting Scheme of Graded Teaching and Learning

As Tai Chi Chuan is quite complicated in its movement formation and demands a high degree of technical exactness and adaptability, and as the art emphasizes a gradual and natural development of subtle mind control, keen sensation and alert reaction, there is no short cut to the mastery of the art, and it is not advisable to design a quick learning course.

The right path to success is one of ceaseless endeavor following a scheme of gradual progression leading to a deeper and deeper understanding of the principles and techniques of the art and a finer and finer degree of controlling the body by the mind.

Based on his long years of teaching experience Master Yang divided the teaching and learning period into three stages, each with its particular aspects to be emphasized as follows:

1st. stage

1)Learn the postures one by one, and each posture movement by movement, as closely as possible as taught by the instructor or as laid down in a teaching manual. Proceed to teach/learn a new posture only after the former one could be quite accurately executed. Repeated practice of a single posture dozens of times in continuation is usually needed for the students to remember the proper movement sequence and to form a correct movement pattern. Holding- a certain stance in its correct form from a few seconds to a few minutes or more without any motion, called taking a pile-stance, is a common practice and a very effective means of building up stronger leg strength, greater sinking power and stamina, so as to gradually build up the solidity of the lower part of one's body as if rooted into the ground.

2)Form a habit of keeping the different parts of one's body in the manner deemed natural and fundamental by the Tai Chi Chuan classics, with special regard to the following six points:

(1)The head should always be kept straight,, with its top pointing upward without exerting any force as if it were suspended by a string from above;

(2)The lowest vertebra should be kept plumb erect;

(3)The chest should be held in slightly and naturally;

            (4)The back muscles should be loosened while its top part lifted   slightly upward;

(5)The shoulder should be kept sunk;

(6)The elbows should be kept lowered.

3)Form a clear perception of the characteristics of Tai Chi Chuan movements: relaxed, pliable, slow, rounded and even. Try to direct your movements more and more in such a manner. Though it takes a long time to get ride of the clumsiness and tenseness generally exhibited by the beginners, one should try hard to obtain a little bit of improvement day by day. Easiness and naturalness will surely come up after a year or so.

2nd. stage

1)Polish up the more difficult postures, such as those requiring standing on a single foot or turning the body 180 degrees or more.

2) Improve the ability of keeping yourself centered without the slightest loss of balance at all times.

3)Improve gradually the coordination of the hands, eyes, trunk and feet, paying special attention to the waist. See to it that there is always some waist movement, big or small, or even very slight, in connection with any movement of the other parts of the body. Observe well the principle that whenever you make a move, all the related parts of the body should all move in unison; and once any movement turns into stillness, a state of tranquility should prevail in your whole self.

4)Differentiate the insubstantial from the substantial more and more distinctly.

5)Improve the smooth linkage of a number of postures at a time, and then proceed to practice the whole sequence of movements in one continuity.

3rd. stage.

1)Pay special attention to performing the whole set of Tai Chi Chuan in a light, agile and flowing manner without any abruptness or discontinuity.

2)Learn the combative functions of every movement of every posture, and practise them with a picture in your mind as if facing an opponent.

3)Vary the speed of practice from time to time: the normal; the slower than normal; the faster than normal; as slow as you can without showing any discontinuity of movement and wavering of attention; and as fast as you can without exhibiting any rash and incorrect movement or a hasty and careless attitude. However, most of your practice should be done with normal speed or slower than normal speed.

4)Try to couple the different movements with diaphragm breathing as naturaly as possible.

5)Learn and practise the "Pushing-hands" exercise: proceed from the one arm to the two arms; from the fixed steps to the active steps; from applying the four basic Pushing-hands postures (warding, pressing, rolling and pushing) to eight postures (warding, pressing, rolling, pushing, pulling, splitting, elbow-striking and shoulder-striking).

What is meant by "Yi" and how to let "Yi" conduct the body?

The word "Yi" denotes intent or thought, or thinking, or idea.

In practicing Tai Chi Chuan, "to let 'Yi' conduct the body" means that you must first have a clear idea and a definite intent of what you are going to do in your mind and to let the body do it accordingly.

Sometimes, it just indicates which part of the body the mind should be thinking of, or your attention should be focused on.

Though it is nothing unusual to have first an idea in one's mind of what one is going to do just before doing it, nevertheless, it is not a common practice in one's daily doings to think of or to be aware of how one is doing a thing all the way through, from the beginning to the end, and, at the same time, to make modifications if the body is not doing precisely as the mind wills it, especially when one's attention or thinking is not to be put only on his outer movements but on his inner activities as well. Thus it needs a period of training to get used to doing it this way and months and years to make the conducting more and more subtle and the response more and more refined.

As Tai Chi Chuan, is quite complicated in its movement formation and demands a high degree of inner and outer coordination, it is unlikely that one can form a clear integrated picture of what and how a posture, not to mention a whole set, should be done in one's mind in a short time.

The training procedure devised by Master Yang Yuting is: to set one's "Yi" first on the starting point and the ending point of each movement only; when one has become proficient in doing so, then shift one's "Yi" to make clear the line or the path each movement goes through; and then to do every movement, with the "Yi" leading, the body following, from the starting point all the way through the process a movement takes, up to the ending point; and then try to do every posture and finally the entire set of Tai Chi Chuan this way; then, when one has again become proficient in doing so, discard the concept of line or path and substitute it with a moving point in the mind, and let the movement of one's body follow closely the movement of this moving point  when it moves, one moves; (and when it retreats, one advances). After doing one's daily practice in such a way for some time, he will be able to perform the complete solo set of Tai Chi Chuan flowingly and lively as does the running water or the drifting cloud.

As Tai Chi Chuan is basically an art of conducting the body with "Yi", the finer the body part to be conducted, the easier for the conducted part to relax; and the more sensitive the feeling and the quicker the response of the body, the deeper the interest in practicing and studying could be developed in the doer and the greater the charm of the art would appeal to him.

Usually, when the instructor says to place the "Yi" on a certain part of the body, it simply means to think of that part. But the body part one's "Yi" is to be placed on and the shifting of "Yi" from one part to another should be smaller and smaller, finer and finer.

For instance, one's "Yi" could be placed on one hand and then it could be shifted to another, but when one is thinking of one of his hands, a finer way is to think of the palm first and then to let his thinking be shifted onto the fingers or from one finger to another, or even from the root of a finger to its nail. There could be an infinite degree of fineness to be reached, hence, there is no limit to the development and achievement of the art. The more advanced one is, the finer and more subtle his using of "Yi" should be.

Teachings of Yang Yuting, Born in 1887, died in 1982.

3rd Generation Disciple. Master of Northern Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan.


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