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ˇ°Opening and Closingˇ± of Tai Ji Quan PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 04 June 2007
“Opening and Closing” of Tai Ji Quan
    Some friends asked me, why Wu’s TaiJi Quan had been called Kai He (opening and closing) Tai Ji Quan? What are the meanings of Qi (to open), Cheng (in continuation), Zhuan (in conversion) and He (Closing) demanded by the Quan? How to behave these four in practicing and boxing? I would make a brief statement here as much as I know.
   Within the period from the end of Ming Dynasty to the beginning of Qing Dynasty, Hao Weizhen (1849-1920), one of the prentices taught by one of the disciples of Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880), the founder of Wu's Tai Ji Quan had been teaching Tai Ji Quan in Yongnian County, Hebei province. Yang Zhaolin, the elder grandson of Yang Luchan(1799-1872), the initiator of Yang's Tai Ji Quan, had been teaching the quan in Nanguan. The styles and the requests of the two were deferent. In ordar m distinct the two, local people made a name for Hao Weizhen’s Quan as "Hao style", and Yang Zhaolin's as "Yang style", while Hao Weizhen called the boxing he had been teaching as "Li style" or "Wu and Li style". People also made a name for Hao's as "opening and Closing style" for it demands Qi starting, Cheng, following Kai (opening) and He (closing). Teaching the Quan in other places out of the County afterwards, some disciples of Hao also called it as "opening and closing style" thus to distinguish Hao's Quan from the Yang's. In November, 1961, Wu's disciples in Tianjin City had published a mimeographed book named The Techniques of Opening and Closing Tai Ji Quan Taught by Hao Weizhen. The emergence as the well-known appellations of "Hao's style" and "Yang's style" in Tai Ji Quan field came into being then.
    Although "Hao style" was denominated as "Wu's Tai Ji Quan" later on, most people had still called it "opening and closing Tai Ji Quan" chronically because of its boxing reason and style requests. Its developing process mostly has been:
Wu's Tai. Ji Quan respected and followed the book of Tai Ji Quan Lun (Tai Ji Quan Theory) written by Master Wang Zongyue in early Qing. Dynasty getting and developing much in its boxing technique and sublimating it deeply based on more and more practices taken by Wu and his .disciples. TaiJi Quan Lun indicates the principle of yin (negative) and Yang (positive) in the words of "dividing when you are moving, closing when being quiet". Considering the application of TaiJi Quan, we would say that dividing is to open to be the variety of Tai Ji boxing style. It emphasizes Zou(stepping), Nian (adhering to) and Sui (following), while dosing is to conclude emphasizing assembling one's vigor to be made use much of its expansion and his later attacking. Wu Yuxiang had requested to attain "being quiet as a mountain, moving as a river" in his book of Tai Ji Quan Jie (a solution to Tai Ji Quan), and made the abstractly concepts, Yin, Yang, Kai (opening) and He (closing) embodied for all the disciples getting easier to follow the real methods and regulations in practicing Tai Ji. Wu said in his book of Shi San Shi Shuo Lue (an explanation for thirteen styles of Tai Ji) that you should strengthen your hands first, then relax and loose them while you are having your every movement. It is supposed to make Qi, Cheng, Zhuan and He. You start your movement in changing followed by your strength moving keeping each transformation between them fluently without any break." Qi, Cheng, Zhuan and He, as fixed regulations with four stages in writing poems and examinational articles in ancient Dynasties, had been formed on the basis of prescribed-form being a common term for all the young writers and scholars then. It was Wu Yuxiang first having quoted the four, Qi, Cheng, Zhuan and He into the moving styles and Da Shou (Tai Ji fighting techniques with their hands and fists) of Tai Ji Quan being a regular theory based on Tai Ji practices as well as a big contribution for the development of Tai Ji Quan handed down fxom generation to generation. Afterwards, Wu summarized Si Zi Mi Jue (secrets in four words), as Fu(dabbing), Gai (covering), Dui (versus), Tun (swallowing), for Tai Ji Da Shou, Li Yishe wrote a book of Sa Fang Mi Jue (secrets to scatter and expand) as Qing (holding), Yin (leading), Song (being relaxed), Fang (being loosen), Hao Yuem wrote his book of Da Shou (Tai Ji fighting with their hands or fists) Si Yao (four points) as Yin (leading), Hua (melting), Shu (stretching) and Fa (sending out). Those points issued by three Masters were all the embodiments and deeper meanings of Qi, Cheng, Zhuan and He for Tai Ji Da Shou indeed.
    Wang Zongyue's academic thought of playing Tai Ji Quan was founded in Song Dynasty. A book of Tai Ji Tu Shuo (explanations with pictures for Tai Ji Quan) written by Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073), had taken Yin and Yang as the substantial body of Tai Ji while Gang (hardness) and Rong (softness) for practical uses. Wang's theory didn't exceed what Zhou's Ta Ji Tu Shuo said in that way. Inherited all the results of the Tai Ji developments made in the past and the dissimilarities of the experienced practices in playing Tai Ji Quan then, Wu Yuxiang first presented
his viewpoint in his book of Shi San Shi Shuo Lue that Xu Shi (emptiness and solidness) should be distinguished clearly, there are both Xu and Shi existing together in any place and always being everywhere. Li Yishe inherited and succeeded Hao Yuxiang's doctrine and carded it forward. Indicated in his book of Wu Zi Jue (a knack in five words), he emphasized "the attainment of your whole body founded by your Jin (strength) would make you a Kung-fu expert. Distinguishing Xu and Shi is needed", "Kai He You Zi (orderly), Xu Shi Fen Qing (distinguish emptiness and solidness dearly)", hence the corresponding transformation of Xu Shi and Kal He became the technical core of Wu's Tai Ji Quan. In explaining the relationship between the four, Li Yishe had drawn Xu Shi Kai He Tu (a diagram explaining the four) pointing out that "Xu Shi should namely be Kai He" since one's Xu Shi in one mostly be transformed at once in changing his inner strength whenever and wherever while he is stepping Tai Ji styles or Da Shou. These Xu Shi transforming processes could not be seen clearly but only be detected somewhat while Kai He would always be formed by changing the player's movements normally being seen obviously. The principle of Xu Shi Kai He surely accords with the saying Zhou Shen Yi Jia (keep all your Tai Ji movements acting with your spirit, strength, breathing, head, body, hands an feet in one)in Tai Ji Quan theory.
    Hao Weizhen had been integrating the developments of Tai Ji boxing theory while he was teaching the Quan. He used four Chinese words, Qi Cheng Kai He, as a main principle in playing Tai Zou Jia Ji Da Shou. Hao Yuem emphasized that every Tai Ji movement can be divided into four words, Qi Cheng Zhuan He", he also said: "Kai is big but not ram, He is small but not hedging" in his book of Tai Ji Quan Zhou Jia Da Shou (Zhou Jia Da Shou in playing Tai Ji Quan). Anyhow, Kai needs stretching, the player's muscle, tendons, bones physique and joints should be all relaxed to make his breathing and blood moving smoothly and conveniently, to keep his hands, eyes, body, waist and stepping associated in phase while any of them moved instantly. The vigor of his movement should be like a patulous bow, his interior breathing and strength moving should be circumvolved like more and more circles turning around in dealing with hundreds of outside changes including any or all attacking made by any rival. "He" should be compacted. The Tai Ji player should keep his spirit inside shrunk in tightness, make each hand protect one half side of his body, protect his middle and use it, step on steadily, make his kicking rapidly, send out his hitting like shooting a arrow and draw back immediately. There is He in Kai and Kai in He forever. One's Tai Ji movement in extension would never be parted from its compaction whereas its compaction contains extension, He should keep the center of his gravity steadily and support himself from eight directions. When he is playing Tai Ji, he has to keep his every movement containing Qi Cheng Zhuan He, each transformation should be very dear. Concretely saying, while "Qi", one should collect his spirit, calm down his minding and heart beating and, converge his breathing. In case his minding is not calmed down yet, he can't be concentrative. As for his breathing is not converged, he would never be implicit but easy to be messy. "Cheng" is a connecting link between the preceding and the following. The player must keep all the joining between them whatever naturally and fluently. "Kai" should be agile and changeful. One should not be practicing Tai Ji in a hurry or in staleness but keeping his vigor full. "He" should be mellow.-The player's hands, eyes, body, heart and stepping should be harmonious and natural while any part of them is quiet with all others plus his body quiet.


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