View Full Version : Abdomen and Waist in Tai Chi

02-18-2001, 08:24 PM
They say that when you do Tai Chi your internal organs get massaged, and that movement should be done from the torso (as many of you probably know). Now I was wondering, are you really suppose to work your abdominal area while practicing Tai Chi, or should you just use it enough to do the movements. When I try to really work it it seems more difficult to breath properly, to sink the energy, it's less relaxing, and it seems contradictory as it is tension. When I do it that way though I can feel that the muscles and organs are getting a workout. What am I supposed to do?

Sam Wiley
02-18-2001, 09:21 PM
There are several reasons why you may have traouble breathing properly in your practice. If your shoulders are tense, you will tend to breathe with your upper chest, which makes things more difficult. The upper half of your lungs do not have the capacity the lower half has.

Also, you talk about movement from the torso. I could be wrong, but what this sounds like to me is that you are using your abdominal/stomach muscles to move your body...but you are not supposed to be doing this. Movement from the center comes from the hips and waist, not the abdomen. If you relax your arms, and just let them hang off at the shoulders, and move your hips in order to make them move, then your arms will begin to move like a feather on the breeze. It is actually quite beautiful and graceful to see.

Moving this way, your waist, which is above the hips, will revolve side to side as well. The waist will move a fraction of a second after the hips turn, as the hips lead.

While your abdomen is used to lend power to many strikes, it is not the source of movement.

The phenomena you wrote about is achieved through the compression and relaxation of the abdominal muscles. Performing the form with this method is called "opening and closing." Basically, on Yang movements, we compress the abdominal muscles to lend power, the closing part, and on the Yin movements they relax again, the opening part.

This is very difficult to explain by writing, it is really something you have to see. You need to watch someone doing this in their form to know how to do it properly.

"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying

02-18-2001, 10:42 PM
In Tai Chi the whole body moves not only the torso; don't forget head and legs. What is involved here is mind control, energy (chi), muscles and tendons and the posture of the body, which are in a constant process of performing opening and closing.

Imo the movement involves the spine, the spine turns the hips, the hips the waist and the waist the rest of the body structure. The mind controls the energy and the energy the different muscle groups to the intended direction. The body must be relaxed (but not limp)and properly aligned. Arms, legs and spine must be connected, so if one moves everything moves. The movements itself are never straight but behave like a spiral.

This is opposite to Sam's opinion. Every move must be performed as an open and close. Closing is storing of energy by contracting the muscles/tendons (Yin) (not only the abdominal muscles) and opening is the release of energy (Yang). This process becomes very clear when performing fa-jing or during push hands.

So far so short. This topic could fill libraries. This process needs to be practiced over and over again preferably two man practice.

Sam Wiley
02-19-2001, 02:26 PM
Not opposite. I just didn't want to get that technical. It is easier to tell someone to twist their waist than to get that far into the description. I just thought that he might understand making the movement come from the hips and waist easier than movement from the spine.

"To enter is to be born, to retreat is to die."
-An Old Taijiquan Saying