Here are the 10 Essential Points of Yang Ching Pu the grandson of the founder of the Yang School of Tai Chi, Yang Lu Chuan.
Practitioners should carefully study these essential points and by this fully understand the true meaning of practice.

1 - Suspend your head from above and keep it up straight
By doing so your inner stretch will be able to reach the crown of your head and your spirit will be able to soar, but do not exert any force to attain this goal for once you consciously or unconsciously apply force, your neck will become stiff. A stiff neck, regardless of the degree of stiffness, is an obstacle to the free flowing of intrinsic energy and the smooth circulation of your blood.

2 - Depress your chest and raise your upper back
This posture will allow the intrinsic energy to sink into your "TAN-TIEN". Avoid pushing your chest out, for a "Chest Out" position will cause your upper body to be heavy and your lower body to be light. Also your feet will then be subject to floating and you will have a hard time maintaining your body balance. By raising your upper back you attach your intrinsic energy to your back thus enabling you to deliver your inner strength effectively from your vertebrae.

3 - Loosen your waist
The waist is the key part of the body. Only when you are able to loosen your waist can you manage to keep your feet strong and your body secure and firm. Moreover, the change of steps from solid to empty or from empty to solid, is all controlled by your waist. To execute this satisfactory you must have a loosened waist. It was said that "the order for movement is issued from the waist", and "when your body appears scattered and lacks strength the remedy should be sought in your waist and legs."

4 - Distinguish between solidness and emptiness
In the art of Tai Chi Chuan the difference between solidness and emptiness is primary importance. When you rest your body weight on the right leg your right leg is regarded as solid and you left leg empty. When you rest your body weight on the left leg your left leg is regarded as solid and you right leg empty. When you truly understand and can distinguish between solidness and emptiness, can your movement become light and nimble. However, if you fail to make the distinction your steps will be heavy and sluggish, and you will be unable to keep your balance therefore becoming victim to your opponent.

5 - Drop your shoulders and sink your elbows
By loosening your shoulder joints you allow your shoulders to droop downwards. If your shoulders are raised they will block the intrinsic energy. Without free flowing intrinsic energy your movements will show a deficiency of inner strength and lack of continuity.

6 - Apply your will and not your force
The Treatise for Tai Chi Chuan says it is completely the use of your will and not your force. Therefore, when you practice your body should be totally relaxed. Do not allow the existence of awkward forces in your body to prohibit or hinder movement. You can then be light and nimble, being able to react as your mind directs.

A common question is "If one disregards the application of force, how can one develop strength?". Because the system of veins and arteries in a body are like the channels and streams on Earth.

Water runs freely when it is not obstructed, intrinsic energy flows exactly in the same way through the veins and arteries of our bodies. When the body is filled with force the result is stagnation of intrinsic energy and results in sluggish movement. When part of the body is restricted the whole body suffers.

Following the rules of continuous practice over a long period, one will find the use of will rather than force will result in the cultivation of inner strength.

The Treatise for Tai Chi Chuan says, "Extreme softness is conductive of extreme hardness". It is no surprise to find Tai Chi experts' arms to be soft in appearance but hard inside [like iron rods wrapped in cotton].

7 - Co-ordinate your upper and lower body movements
The Treatise for Tai Chi Chuan says, "In all movement the inner strength is rooted in the feet, developed in the thighs, controlled by the waist and expressed through the fingers. From the feet to the thighs, waist and fingers there must be complete co-ordination and the whole body should act as an integrated unit. Therefore, when the hands move, the waist and the feet and the focus of the eyes must move accordingly. This is the meaning of co-ordination of upper and lower body movements. Whenever there is variance within the body, movement appears scattered and lack strength."

8 - Unify your internal and external movements
Tai Chi trains the spirit of the individual. It has been said "The spirit is the master and the body is the servant". Therefore, when you manage to lift your spirit, your movement will be lighter and nimble. The nature of all movement consists of softness and hardness, also expansion and contraction. Expansion does not mean expanding only the hands and feet, but also your mind and will. The same holds good for contraction. Only when you can unify your internal and external movements can your body move as an integrated unit without interruption.

9 - There must be absolute continuity in your movements
In "Waichia" [Outer Intrinsic School] pugilism, the strength that is developed is a kind of awkward strength. Waichia pugilism refers to the harder, aggressive martial arts. With this kind of strength there is a beginning and there is an end. There is discontinuity and there is interruption. It is not unusual under this system that when the old strength has been used up, new strength has not been developed. It is this "strength gap" that gives the opponent the advantage.

In Tai Chi "Net Chia" [Inner Intrinsic School], will rather than force is applied to direct the body movement. The end of one movement is the beginning of the next movement. In fact there is no beginning or end within the circular movement of Tai Chi. It has been said Tai Chi acts in the same manner as the Yang Tze River flowing ceaselessly. It is also said "the action of inner strength of Tai Chi resembles the reeling of silk from a cocoon." All of these things refer to the continuous movement of Tai Chi.

10 - Seek serenity in activity
In Waichia pugilism, the delivery of strength appears merely as a sort of "showing off". The practitioner demonstrates their abilities and skills by excreting all their energies to firmly hold their position. Consequently, after practice, they feel exhausted and breathing is rapid. Tai Chi practitioners on the other hand aim at seeking serenity in activity.

Throughout they are active externally and calm internally. The slower one executes the movement the better, the slowness in movement is conducive to deep and long breathing. It enables the intrinsic energy to sink to their "Tan Tien". In this situation the practitioners will not suffer from rapid breathing, troubles involving the heart or circulation problems.

© Kwong Tam Merseyside School of Tai Chi 2014-18