“T’ai Chi Immersion” is a program I have been offering for a couple years now. It is an opportunity to share the core of my taijiquan practice, my “Three Pillars of Energetic Connection,” in a weekend seminar. While it takes years to fully integrate energetic coherence, central equilibrium, and song kua into your gongfu, you can get a powerful introduction in a very short time. You get to FEEL the effortless power, the root, and the qi flow. And you learn how to bring it into your practice.
The “Three Pillars” are an adventure in embracing paradox. They defy the expectations of a lifetime by exposing us to greatly enhanced abilities with very little effort. Our habitual patterns are so deeply rooted, however, that our bodies continue to do what is familiar long after our minds know that there is a better way.
Many of you know that I have been sharing the Three Pillars for years, and it continues to be refined. What I lacked until recently was a short, easily learned form that students can use to explore the Three Pillars. Some diligent souls were able to inject it into their taiji existing taiji forms, but I fear that old habits would dominate after the initial novelty wore off. That changed when Master Yang Fukui shared a short, powerful Yang style form that he had learned from his granduncle, Zhai Yongwen. It’s called Yang Chengfu’s 13 Original Postures. (see video above)
I have written about this form before, comparing it to Grandmaster William C C Chen’s 60 Movements and Cheng Man Ching’s 37 Postures. (see “Yang Chengfu’s 13 Original Postures.”) It’s a large frame form that builds core strength while generating major qi flow. Its long, low postures make for a good workout while encouraging song.
ow can we do justice to any taijiquan form in such a short time? After all, it usually takes a student the better part of year to learn the “60 Movements” in my weekly class. The approach there is to refine each movement and give the body some time to integrate the changes we demand of it. It’s a slow train. So how do we propose to learn a whole form in a weekend?
The only way we could do all this was to abandon upfront any emphasis on actually remembering the choreography. Instead, we focused on feeling what was going on: the “effortless power,” the flow of qi, the energetic connection to the earth (rooting), the mental clarity, the shift of awareness into a superconscious state. In essence, it was an opportunity for even absolute beginners to experience in a safe environment what it feels like to be an advanced taijiquan practitioner.
So we don’t stress memorizing the form. That only comes with practice. We emphasize the FEELING. If you like the feeling, and the demonstrable ability of effortless power, then maybe you’ll be encouraged to practice it. That’s where the deeper learning comes in, with the gongfu: focused effort over time. To support that, I have loaded 30 or so videos into YouTube that students can refer to. You can also reach me by email to go over the fine points. And I have a study group that meets in Connecticut every couple month for an intense three-hour session.
And did I mention that it’s a really short…albeit powerful…form?
There are two opportunities for Tai Chi Immersion this summer. One starts next Tuesday, June 26th 6-7:30 pm at the New York Open Center, called T’ai Chi for Health, Peace and Soft Power. Instead of a weekend seminar, we’re doing six hour and a half classes: 6/26, 7/10, 7/17, 7/24, and 7/31, 8/7.
The other is a weekend seminar at Eastover Estate and Retreat, July 20-22. We start Friday evening and roll till Sunday am. Eastover is a beautiful place, 600 acres of Berkshire Mountain splendor. To register: