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Yi, Qi and Jing

Wang Xian

To understand the jing of Taijiquan, we must first understand what is yi(intention) and what is qi. The yi and qi of taijiquan is invisible in our body, both can't be seen or touch. Generally , yi is the mind (heart). However upon closer examination, they are distinctive. The mind focuses on the yi(intention) but yi is just a subset of the mind. Therefore, no matter whether it is when practicing the form or pushing hands, once the mind is activated, the yi will be there and hence, qi will follow. In other words, the mind, yi and qi are part of a system. IF you do not have calm mind when practicing, your yi will be scattered and your qi will disperse. Keeping a calm mind will allow to have a strong intention and allow you to sink your qi.

Qi is an important part of our body. Qi is a general term for 4 kinds of sub-qi in our body. Firstly we have the yuan qi which without it the other 3 won't exist. The second is the zhen qi created by the kidney. The third is the magnetic qi known as wai qi (external qi). Lastly is the qi created by the digestion of the food we consume. These 4 sub-qi make up the internal qi or what we known as the qi of the dan-tian.

We all know blood is very valuable to us. However, qi is even more valuable than blood. The relation of blood and qi are : Qi is the main; blood is the sub. Qi is yang, blood is ying. Qi is for defence, blood is for nutrition. Our life is based on defence and nutrition. An analogy would be a country that has military built-up despite its well built economy. Such a country would not be able to defend itself from an external attack. For the body, it wouldn't be able to defend itself from infections or diseases. This is why from the traditional Chinese medicine point of view,qi is leading the blood. IF the flow of qi is smooth then the blood flow will be smooth and hence the qi and blood will be balance and the body will be healthy.

Taoist priests in the ancient times valued this "dan-tian qi". It is comparable to the furnace used to cultivate immortality pills. Hence we can see the importance of cultivating "dan-tian qi" in Taijiquan.

When practicing taijiquan, we use yi to move the qi and the qi will drive the external form. It shares similar objectives to qigong although the methods are different. Qigong is seeking movement within stillness; taijiquan is seeking stillness when doing the forms. Besides that, taijiquan has it own applications used in defense and attacking. Therefore taijiquan can be seen as a higher level of moving qigong. It can't be over emphasis that one need to practice with a calm and natural way. Only then will you be able to distribute the qi and blood across the body. In this way, you will not appear pale or breathless. In the long term, it will allows the qi and blood flow to be smooth, leading to a healthy body and life.

In practice, it must be done in a proper manner with the rules and guidelines follow closely. Beginners should be patient, be calm in your mind and practice according to the rules. The improvement will come gradually and cannot be rushed or achieve through taking shortcuts.

What is zhong qi? It is an unbiased and balanced qi. Qi is closely tied to yi and vice versa. Therefore if one's yi is biased, so will be his/her qi. Therefore one must maintain a clam, peaceful and natural in order for you to cultivate an unbiased and balanced zhong qi. Zhong qi is also either hard or soft, ying or yang. Another kind of qi is know as the hao ran qi (magnificent qi), which is even harder to comprehend and acquire. Such qi is as soft as cotton and yet can be as hard as steel. It is surfaced through the skin and of a strong nature.Such qi can only be acquired through years of hard work. It is also the benchmark that that indicates that you have reach the advanced level. As an beginner, you may win by brute force or size but at the advanced level, you will be able to have a convincing win. Some people when pushing hand with an expert will suddenly feel that he cannot advanced or retreat and even feel weak. He would be just like standing on a rock sphereand would fall easily. This is the HaoRan qi of the expert at work. As the classic said "Use yi to move qi and move it beyond the bones. Use qi to move the body and move it accordingly to the mind."

In conclusion, to cultivate qi, one needs a long term of yu and form practise in order to create a regulated qi f low. When pushing hand, the body will react accordingly to the intention. Understand yi and qi will allow you to understand jing better.