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Tai Chi Yin and Yang Training

The term tai chi (taiji) refers to the constant interplay between the forces of yin and yang. Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan) is the martial art that uses those forces to develop extraordinary power. Very few tai chi schools now teach the development and use of these forces. This is a huge shame and is leading to the gradual decline of tai chi and the loss of the treasures it contains.

The power of yin and yang training

Most Westerners believe the only way to gain strength and power is through resistance training of some sort. Yes this does work but you largely train to isolate and strengthen specific muscle groups. This is not as effective as using all the muscles together in a connected and coordinated way.

Traditional tai chi training of old taught you how to use yin and yang to develop your body. Much of the training came from a close understanding of nature and how it expressed yin and yang. All animals in nature unknowingly use the eternal principles of yin and yang to generate force.

Like animals you too can learn to be totally relaxed in stillness and when you move you can do so with fluid power.
Stillness and movement – yin and yang. Each of them develops a different kind of power.

Yin – the connected power of stillness

Yin power involves using stillness to relax every part downwards onto the earth. Gradually you learn to use the body as one totally connected unit so that no part is expressing or receiving force on its own without support from every other part and the earth itself.

This largely comes from a study of trees. When a tree is young it is more yang. It bends with the winds so as not to resist them. Over time a tree gradually sinks further and further down. It becomes more yin – compressed and solid and is able to withstand the strongest winds without moving.

The longer you spend in yin training the stronger you become

tai chi yin and yang training

Be unmoved and relaxed no matter how much force is applied

When you are truly rooted into the ground even the smallest movement has huge force behind it. With this kind of training a person’s size or physique counts for almost nothing. A properly trained ten year old could overcome an untrained adult easily.

The disadvantages of yin training are primarily that you cannot apply yin power at speed. So in combat conditions you move to a point where you want to apply power then instantly relax down and use yin, connected power.

The other disadvantage is that it takes a long time to let go of the tensions in your muscles that hold you up and move you so that you can truly relax and use yin power. But the training is so worth while. You learn not to tense up under stress and can stay calm and in control no matter what is happening around you.

Yang – the power of waves

Waves occur throughout nature and are an expression of yin and yang (the rising and falling in the wave) within a largely yang medium. Waves travel far more easily through a yang medium like air or water than through a heavier medium like wood or rock.

Yang training involves learning to move your body fluidly using wave-like movements. Nature moves in waves so the Chinese of old emulated that. Most animals also move in waves. We realise that animals are stronger than us but in many cases it’s simply because they move differently.

Animals share the same basic anatomy as we do but they don’t hold tension in their posture. Most animals move with a fluidity that creates a wave of power through their body putting no individual part at risk. They tend not to use isolate specific joints but use their whole body in a natural, holistic way.

Yang training is fantastic for loosening tight joints. It also helps you regain the mobility and power that you may have thought was lost forever. It can be done by anyone of any age as can yin training.

Yang training is also particularly useful for anyone who plays sport of any kind. It offers new ways to develop power and can be applied to anything from a tennis stroke to a runner’s gait.

Again it can take time to gradually open the joints and learn to move in this fluid manner. It takes even longer to be able to apply this kind of power in combat conditions. Combat always offers the most challenging conditions as they are constantly changing and can’t be predicted.

Shaking helps develop yang training and is a great way to loosen up before moving.

The disadvantage of wave power is it is short lived. You cannot maintain wave like movements over a long period of time. All waves dissipate over time.

tai chi power push

In tai chi training our eventual aim is to use both kinds of power together. To have the body rooted down fully onto the earth yet create wave power without allowing any part to become uprooted.

Learn how to develop yin and yang power for yourself by coming along to our classes or through our online tai chi course (see below).

  • The full yang style short form (37 steps)
  • All the proper principles
  • Qigong exercises
  • Yin and yang power training
  • Easy to follow videos and PDF descriptions of everything
  • The most comprehensive online training course available
  • Split into 11 digestible modules

Each module is contains at least a month’s worth of lessons and is currently just £18 per module.

Click here for more information and to visit our shop

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  • Work on your posture and breathing while you walk
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  • Become more aware of yourself and your surroundings
  • Make every walk a richer and more enjoyable experience

Plus – get our popular weekly email full of rare tips and skills on using the deeper principles of tai chi to improve your health and life.

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