Taiji Principle of Drawing Out the Outer Through the Inner

According to tai chi transformation process, in reference to Tai Chi Practioners Simple Tai Chi Illustrations, we can see Yin and Yang’s movement and change inside “the Tai Chi circle ” lead to derivative change outside “the Tai Chi circle ”.Tai Chi experts realized that while they drew a forced analogy between “Tai Chi” and the thirteen gestures. Based on the deepened awareness of “inner movement leads to outside change”, Tai Chi practioners consider those formless biological organism such as the body’s consciousness, breath and strength “the inner”; treat those visible “forms” such as human body, it’s serene gesture and movement as “the outer”, and they put forward “the principle of drawing out the outer through the inner”. This rule guides the inside and outside parts of human body to coordinate properly in exercise.

a. Consciousness as the main guide

Ancient Tai Chi table wrote, “Mind is the direction, Qi the flag, spirit the general, the body being driven. One should be cautious all the time, then can gain something.” (Explanations on Tai Chi by Wu Yuxiang). It also said “one must be careful while switching from emptiness to fullness… one should guess the intention of each gesture”,  “If you ask what the substance is and what the utility is, spirit and mind are the emperor and body the minister.” (Tai Chi Manuel • Song of the Thirteen gestures Compiled by Li Yushe ). All these show that consciousness must control movement in Tai Chi.

b. The Principle and Approach of Using Mind, Qi, Strength and Form

Ancient Tai Chi table noticed that strength and force are connected; Qi and strength include each other. Li Yu said“breathing in is to unite and reserve, breathing out is to divide and expand. ”(Tai Chi Manuel•Five-syllable Knack compiled by Li yu) The quotation explained that strength and breath are connected. He also said “strength is borrowed from body, Qi originates from the spine. How can it be that Qi comes from the spine? Qi drops down from both shoulders to backbone, and reserves in waist. In this case, Qi’s movement from up to down is called union. Rising from waist to backbone, spreading from both shoulders to fingers, this movement of Qi from down to up is called division.”(Tai Chi Manuel•Five-syllable Knack compiled by Li Yushe). This refers to moving direction of strength and Qi.

Ancient Tai Chi table laid down the coordinative relation between three inner elements: mind, Qi and strength. It says, “First the mind moves, then strength follows up. The shift between the two should be smooth and coherent. It is better that Qi is expansive and powerful. And it is better that the mind is concentrated inside.” (Key words on Tai Chi by Wu Yuxiang)

c. Inner-outer Integrative Exercise Guided by Inner Exercise

Classic Tai Chi table pointed out “first is the mind, then the body.”(Explanations on Tai Chi by Wu Yuxiang) “Mind gives directions, Qi is the flag.” “With the mind guiding Qi composedly, Qi can be taken into bone; … let Qi go through the body smoothly, so that Qi can follow the mind easily.” (Key words on Tai Chi by Wu Yuxiang) Thus, let the mind guides Qi and let it go through the body, then inner movement will guide outer movement, finally integrative movement of “the inner and the outer follow each other” achieves.

In summary, in light of “the principle of drawing out the outer through the inner,” the guiding role of consciousness is emphasized in exercise. It requires that consciousness control breath, body’s movement and their orderly coordination. At one hand, let the mind guides Qi, let Qi go through the body and let strength follows Qi, thus causing body’s movement; on the other hand, under the control of consciousness, body moves strictly according to the prescription of action, and let the change of outer form cause the coordination of breath correspondingly. Through long time practice, one can gradually achieve the union of mind, Qi, strength and form, achieve the exercise stable gesture that one part moves and all parts move, reaches one part and reaches all parts inside and outside the body. Thus, the harmonious state of inner-outer integration can be achieved.

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