T'ai Chi Stances
There are fourteen basic postures or stances in our T'ai Chi Ch'uan which were laid down originally by the Lee family of very ancient China, and these were named after various animals and birds as was the habit in those far-off days.
Illustrations and descriptions are included in this chapter, and we suggest diat before you begin to practise the actual 'form' of T'ai Chi, you learn these various stances and try to move from one to the other smoothly.
Be sure to keep your body upright, without stiffness or tension, so that you remain constantly stable. One good way is to practise in front of a mirror, so that you can constantly watch your posture (body) and your stance (legs) at all times. Remember that you can stand erect without hardness, and you can remain soft without being sloppy. Finding the middle path between the two does not come easily, and it takes a lot of work and practise to acquire it.
Your legs act like the roots of a tree, the body is the trunk, and the arms and hands are the branches and the twigs. Each part is separate, but all have specific jobs to do, so that they work as one — just like the Yin and the Yang and the Tao. You will then find that you can maintain a good and strong balance at all times, and that you will be able to root your feet at any moment.
From the first time you start to practise in any of our classes you will discover that everything you do contains the essence of Chi energy, and you will be taught how to utilize these essences to your maximum power and mental control. Unlike other styles, we teach you how to use and control your Chi energy from the moment you join the class, and help to prove to yourself that Chi is something that you can learn to harness, store and control through your postures, stances and hand movements.
This type of movement is known as movement with stillness' (Yun Tung Pu Yun Tung), which is akin to the stillness within the centre of a cyclone, or the tranquillity of the void at the centre of the dynamic forces of the universe. It appears to be insubstantial yet it is enormously substantial. It is the very simple formula of everything, for it is Yin and Yang in complete harmony with one another.
If there is no organized class in your immediate area, remember to practise regularly, especially the following stances, and learn to move from one to another with a heel and toe action, similar to natural walking.