The physical requirement for the practice of Taijiquan is that the body be turned into a spherical ball. That would allow us to release maximum energy most effectively while staying in balance. All the physical demands are interlinked, which means that it is an all-or-nothing scenario. In order to make real progress, it is a question of going to the basics and eliminating mistakes as much as possible.
A frequently omitted technique when hollowing the chest
Using too much strength to force the chest inwards - practising this way would not get rid of our brute force and neither can the front chest become loosened. One should direct yi in such a way that it permeates from the hollow of the front chest in all directions. When the permeation starts, you will feel the chest hollow moves towards the back. Use your yi to visualize that the chest hollow gets plastered onto the back.
When the expansion and permeation to the left and right of the chest happens, make sure that the muscles to the front of the shoulder joints peel away leading to the pushing open of the shoulder joints. In respect of the upward expansion and spreading, be sure that the muscle below the throat spreads away as well.
"Raising" implies an upward motion. When the chest hollow gets plastered towards the back, make sure that the back doesn’t simply get pushed out directly towards the back. It should rise up towards the dazhui instead, thus joining up with the yi that is effecting the suspension of the head at the top.
Besides aiming upwards, the raising of the back should also expand and spread out in all directions until the whole back feels like a fully inflated balloon.
When the back has fully inflated, yi qi (energy generated by the yi) would open up the two shoulder blades. The two streams of energy thus generated would result in the two arms forming some sort of a circular embrace, at the same time allowing more space in the chest hollow and making it easier to relax and open up.
According to the Taijiquan classics, the saying “Changes take place at the chest” refers to the need for the chest hollow to loosen and open up into the shape of a Chinese “wok” in order that an incoming force be channeled from the front to the back. The other saying “Be sensitive and unblocked at the back” refers to the ability in fully inflating the back roundly allowing it to spread the force that is channelled through. Besides, a roundly inflated back is able to connect up energy streams coming in from the top, bottom, left and right and have them deployed
By Patrick SW Chan 陳少華
Translated by Vicky Wong