Master Ma, Long - Taiji in the Park
These questions were answered by Master Ma, Long during a Question and answering session on Facebook, in the Tai Chi Connection group.
1.) P.J. Gomez How to develop short range power - "Taijiquan's power (external force) can be explained by one sentence: short movements, long force, and far mind. This is also the three stages of Tai Chi practice. The first stage to learn Tai Chi is the exterior movements, and then knowing forces, and then spiritual understanding . Therefore, the real power is that after the completion of the entire three stages, short movements can be thorough, deep and powerful, and applied with ease. It appears to be an instantaneous explosive force. In fact, this seemingly simple explosive force comes from a very complicated process. First of all, force is concentrated in Dantian, and then it must be transferred through the body in a specific way before finally reaching the end point. This instantaneous muscle force is relaxed, and the force is from between the bones and muscles. This is opposite of our common sense, so many people don't understand it."
2.) A bonus question I threw in... :whistling innocently: 😀 Explain in more detail about NeiGong - "Internal Gongfu(NeiGong) is the basis of practicing martial arts in the past. There is an old saying in China that “You will receive nothing when old if you do not keep practicing internal Gongfu”, but the method of practicing internal Gongfu was only passed down in a small scope, so many people don’t know this. Internal Gongfu is actually a way to use the Qi to help the body and develop its potential. Use Qi to motivate the rotation of the acupuncture points, combined with some external exercises to achieve an excellent state of body and strength, without harming the body."
3.) Kevin Gresock About backyard Taiji - "The backyard was in the past when the Master taught his disciples. It was not the same thing as what was taught openly to all students. The apprentices in the backyard were more trusted by the Master and would be taught more things. So although many people would have been taught by the Master, because of this, they end up learning differently."
4.) Kevin Gresock How to Let Go - "Clearing to emptiness is actually a kind of self-change and self-improvement. To change one’s weakness, first of all, you must know yourself, analyze yourself, know your weakness, and dare to spread yourself under the sun, so that the dark sides of ourselves are exposed, then you know what to change. So the most important thing is to know what to change."
5.) Kevin Gresock asked about hands leading body and body leading hands - "In Chen style Taijiquan first routine(yilu) the body leads the hands; in contrast, in Chen style Taijiquan second routine (erlu) hands lead body."
6.) Kevin Gresock asked about fighting applications - "Every movement of Taijiquan form is used for combat. When you are learning, you need a teacher to explain how to use it, and practice repeatedly. Combined with the practice of pushing hands, gradually you become proficient when applying."
7.) A bonus question by me(Robert Thompson) ;) I have seen this trend starting with government officials and other large organizations so I asked Long about his thoughts on it, What are your thoughts or feelings about Taiji and QiGong requiring certification or liscensing for use in health care - "Taijiquan is now liked by many people. A study by Harvard University proved that it is very good for the body. I think it will gradually be regulated and managed well in the future, and be used in many aspects, such as hospitals. This requires time and requires us to work hard, and needs our advancement and participation in it. I believe that in the future it will be greatly developed and applied."
8.) Kevin Gresock developing root - "It is critical to “have root on feet” when practicing Taijiquan. One aspect to judge whether it is good or not is to watch the stability of the feet. Feet are stable but not dead. How to be stable and not dead? The first is to relax, but not to collapse. Here feet grasp the ground and use qi to connect the body and the ground. In this way feet have root, but flexible."
9.) Kevin Gresock had a question about kua - "When it comes to relaxation, this is the most important and difficult part of Taiji. Key is to relax and sink, not be loose and sloppy. It requires that some parts of the body should relax and some should sink. Here the joints of crotch are critical part. Joints of crotch are the place to connect the upper body and the lower limbs. If joints of crotch do not relax, the Qi and the strength will be cut off. Without relaxation of the crotch joint, you are not able to keep balance. One can only relax the body then relax the heart. To relax the body, it is necessary to sink your breath to the Dantian, with the chest pulled back, sink the shoulders and the elbows, the waist relaxed and the round crotch, knees bended, the spirit concentrated, and the hands/body are long. In theory, this is how to do it, but it requires the master’s personal guidance."
10.) Elena Scott asked about understanding and how to develop dan'tian - "Dantian's position is about 3 inches below the belly button and at the front of the abdomen cavity. At the beginning, with the help of some physical exercises, we can position and gradually find the feeling of Dantian. This simple method can be carried out step by step. Firstly, the abdominal breathing method is used to practice the simple movement of the abdomen, and then the anti-abdominal breathing method is used to strengthen the control of the abdominal movement. After mastering those, the Dantian rotation can be practiced, including rotating up and down, and rotating left-right and up and down. In this way we have the feeling of Dantian. Dantian is regarded as key to master if someone wants to go at a higher level. Everything is driven and coordinated by Dantian. When you master the rotation of Dantian, you can really improve your understanding of Taijiquan"
Master Ma, Long - Sunset