Do you know what is Hunyuan Taijiquan? What does it comprise of? A good read to have a deeper understanding of this form of taiji by our Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang.
Chen Style Xinyi (心意) Hunyuan (混元) Taijiquan (thereafter referred to as "Hunyuan Taijiquan") is an excellent martial art system created by Feng Zhiqiang, the favorite disciple of the famous Chen Style Taijiquan, Grandmaster Chen Fake, and Xinyi Liuhequan, Grandmaster Hu Yaozhen. This system combines the internal gong (功) of the Xinyi Liuhe system and the embodiment of the silk reeling internal gong of Chen Style Taijiquan. It directly expresses the true implied meaning of taijiquan (太极拳). It is the process of achieving the higher level gong of one grain of qi (气) through the guidance of mind-intent, based on the Hunyuan qi of the dantian (丹田), relying on the yinyang (阴阳) theory of taiji, and through the experience, application and cultivation of the thirteen postures of taijiquan.
Hunyuan Taijiquan is an art that combines taiji and xinyi. Taijiquan aims at the twining of the whole body, making the body into a whole unit with inside and outside spirals. It utilizes that one grain of hunyuan qi is to supplement the primordial with the after-heaven qi. Xinyi is an art that aims to cultivate the six harmonies of the body. It controls the six harmonies with the xinyi (mind-intent) while it fills the mind-intent with the six-harmonies. This opens the three joints, reaches the four limbs, travels to the four shapes, and moves the five elements. These activities will cultivate the primordial to strengthen the after-heaven state.
Hunyuan Taijiquan is based on Hunyuan neigong (内功, internal power). It is structured around the bare-hand forms, weapons forms and single repetitive techniques. Its function is borne out in push hands and sanshou (散手,free sparring). Internally, Hunyuan Taijiquan trains the jing (精, essence), qi (气, air) and shen (神, spirit). Externally, it strengthens the ligaments, bones and muscles. In practice, it promotes mind-intent over qi and qi over li (力, force). The training of li will lead to brokenness. The cultivation of qi will lead to stagnation. Only the cultivation of mind-intent will lead to flow. The value rests on the spirit. This system focuses on the cultivation of qi, the collection of qi, the movement of qi, and the transportation of qi. The aim is to create the yuan (元, original), cultivate the yuan, strengthen the yuan, and hun (mix) yuan. On the basis of powerful internal qi, we store the genuine original qi. We move the qi with mind-intent. We transport the qi according to the correct meridians. We accomplish this by adopting the natural breathing method. In form practice, we do not allow jumps, the issue of power, stomping of the feet and aimless shakings. We try to avoid the harming of the ligaments, bones and muscles externally, and the jing, qi and shen internally. Therefore, we encourage the practitioner to cultivate in tranquility, in relaxation, and with full intent.
In philosophy and training methods, Hunyuan Taijiquan formulated the guiding principle of "cultivate both internally and externally but mainly internally; utilize both movements and tranquility but mainly tranquility; practice and nurture but mainly focused on nurturing." In cultivation, the system combines as one form practice, gong practice and applications. In training key points the system requires that the inside and outside must become one; the upper body must follow the lower body; the entire body must become one; and the whole movements must become one body of Hunyuan.
The Hunyuan Taijiquan system is composed of five components: Gong, forms, weapons, push hands, and sparring. Gong is the foundation. Forms are the core elements. Weapons are complimentary to the training. Push hands are the methods. The purpose is life force cultivation and combat readiness.
- 1. Gong
Gong is the foundation of Hunyuan Taijiquan. The research and practice of gong is the enhancement of internal qi, internal jin (劲, trained force) and neigong (internal skill). The ancients said, "One who does not practice gong will have a martial life of futility." The essence of one grain of Hunyuan qi is to hold on to the dantian to cultivate the neigong. Hunyuan Taijiquan neigong absorbed the excellent methods of Daoist (Taoist) cultivation methods. It trains both the mind and the body. It trains both the heart and kidney. The practice of martial arts is dependent on jing, qi and shen. When the spirit is full, the internal qi will also be plentiful. The internal power will be expansive so that the power of the martial art will come out. This is the realm of the martial art. The realm is realized only with the foundation of neigong.
Practising neigong requires the understanding of vital points. Without the understanding of vital points of the body, the practice is doomed to be fruitless. Hunyuan Taijiquan neigong indicates the vital joints and the acupuncture meridians for the cultivation of jing, qi and shen. In terms of the curriculum of the gong in Hunyuan Taijiquan, there are the static gong (sitting gong and zhanzhuang, 站桩) and the dynamic gong (foundation neigong, silk reeling neigong, health neigong and taiji bang (棒) neigong). Among theses gongs, taiji bang (short stick) neigong embodies foundation neigong, silk reeling neigong and health neigong. It utilizes twining, twisting, circling, blending, rolling and vibrating to supplement the movement of internal qi. On the basis of the foundation neigong, it further enhances the neigong.
- 2. Forms
Forms are the core elements of the Hunyuan Taijiquan system. Hunyuan Taijiquan is a system of internal martial art. It embodies that double role of martial art and Daoist cultivation. It stress that both internal and external training are stressed with a focus on internal training. Internally, we train the three treasures of jing, qi and shen. Externally, we train the three methods of body, hand and stance. Internally we train the Hunyuan qi in the dantian. Externally we train the limbs/body, tendon/ligaments and muscles. This procedure will make the mind-intent, qi, shen and body merge into one inseparable entity, thus reaching the level of the form and the power (gong) combining into one. Practitioners should view the process of training as the process of the mind-intent guiding the movement of qi. When the mind-intent arises, the qi will be there. When the qi travels, the movement is automatic. When the mind-intent, qi and body merge, the whole process is a picture of taiji yin yang graph. There are eight forms in the Hunyuan Taijiquan system: 24-form, 48-form, 83-form, 71-form, 24 Hunyuan Free Cannons, Hunyuan 24 Cannons, and 36 Qin Na (擒拿). Practitioners should follow a procedure from easy to difficult and practice daily. With time, he/she will come to comprehend the deep secrets within.
- 3. Weapons
Weapons are the complementary exercises of the Hunyuan Taijiquan system. From a certain point of view, weapons are extension of the body. Therefore the practice of weapons must be founded on the solid form and gong. With the passing of time, the meaning of weapons has changed from the traditional sense to today's meaning of cultural and heritage weapons. Hunyuan Taijiquan system continues to keep the original intent of the weapons. In many cases, the combat applications of weapons have been kept. The main weapon forms in the Hunyuan Taijiquan system are broad sword and staff.
- o Hunyuan Taiji Sword
There are mainly thirteen postures in the sword form. It is thus also known as the thirteen posture sword. These postures are chop, crack, pull up, poke, pick, point, move, slice, hang, drill, pull and lift. Sticking, adhering, linking and following energies and the five steps are also added into the thirteen postures. This form should have the characteristic of the qi flow, body loose and round, shen together and power united.
- o Hunyuan Taiji Broad Sword
Hunyuan Taiji Broad Sword is an internal broad sword form. It is different from external broad sword forms. It has the characteristics of heaviness and lightness, hardness and softness, slow twining and swift movement. This form has crisp execution of power. The movements are both fast and slow. The fast movements also contain stickiness. It is also called Taiji Chan (缠, reeling) Broad Sword. This broad sword form is simple and agile. The sword moves with the body and the body leads the sword. If the straight sword were to be compared to "needle in cotton", then the broad sword must be "hot iron from the red furnace".
- o Staff
The Hunyaun Taiji Staff is filled with circles and spiral. In essence, the staff form is the embodiment of Silk Reeling. The common routine of the staff also has thirteen postures aided with stickiness, adherence, linking and following and the five steps. The staff form is capable of many changes in movements. In practice, the dang (the arch-shaped area from the knee to the lower back, and then the other knee) must be rounded and the stance stable. The waist turns while the arms twine. The movements are twisting, wrapping, drilling and turning. The person must turn with the staff. The practice of the staff could lead to the destruction of qi. A good teacher is required in order to receive effective training.
- 4. Push Hands
Push Hands is one of the most favorable exercises for taijiquan practitioners. It can train the ability of listening to the energy of the opponent and the ability of knowing both yourself and your opponent. It is also used to test whether the bare-hand forms are practiced correctly. It is useful in enhancing the interest level of the learners. Through the practice of push hands one can also gain more insightful understanding of taijiquan.
From the point of view of health, push hands is an approach to test whether the learner has improved power level and has reached the level of looseness. Without getting loose, one cannot gain the purpose of the cultivation of the body and mind. One cannot enter the realm of taijiquan. From the point of view of combat, push hands is the only path towards listening ability, reflex and small power overcoming great power. Push hand exercises are the method, not the end result. As a method, push hands has a rich repertoire of contents. Push hands can avoid the harm of direct combat training. It is therefore a widely accepted training method for a wide range of practitioners in taijiquan.
The Hunyuan Taijiquan system has a comprehensive and strict training and teaching curriculum. The creator of the system, Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang enjoys a high reputation for his superb command of push hands and combat abilities. With a good command of the forms, learners can start push hands training. They can then improve their push hands ability and combat skills These pursuits will no doubt add joy to the practice of Hunyuan Taijiquan.
"Hunyuan Taijiquan is not only an inheritance of ancestors to me personally, but it is also a rich reassure left for the people of the world. I have a responsibility to promote it to the world for the benefit of the people!" Under these wise words of Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, this system has been widely known to the entire world. The characteristics of the comprehensive system, systematic theory, outstanding features, striking styles, apparent effectiveness and unique Chinese traditions make this system a widely accepted form of exercise by people in other provinces and cities of China. There are also dozens of organizations of learning, research and teaching abilities in foreign countries and areas with Grandmaster Feng's students and disciples. This treasure of Chinese traditional culture has been spreading worldwide.
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