The movements practiced by most beginners of Tai Chi Chuan at first limited to physical moves. It takes a while, depending upon how often someone practices as it is based upon natural ability. Beginners are not to focus their energy; it’s difficult enough to just memorize how the body moves and forms postures. As the forms are memorized, which usually takes between three and six months; initially warm palms and tingling of fingertips are evidenced intermittingly.
The more experienced practitioners experience will eventually feel this energy flow exhibited as warmth or tingling more regularly. Energy or Chi flow is more evidence as the practitioner necessarily has better balance and coordination. It’s really important for beginners to learn to relax their muscles so that the energy or Chi can flow; they must be able to relax the muscles enough to allow the compression of the energy. The muscles cannot be tense and yet they cannot be limp as well.
Over time the body must become accustomed to the movements; they allow energy flow without hesitation. Only then can the mind focus sufficiently to permit the energy to compress the energy, or Chi; muscles tension is released during this process. The crotch relaxes as energy is released, rib cages will be loose while the armpits remain open. As energy or Chi begins to flow, the fingers are energized while the palms or fists move to complete the posture.
As the player continues practicing the movements, the tingling and warm feeling of the fingers and palms become more evident; these are by-products of energy flow. The relaxing and feeling of energy flowing throughout the body generates a calm sensation. As the forms become natural it becomes meditative.
Like many of the martial arts applications Tai Chi forms often mimic animal movements such as moving like a bird that raises its wings before it takes flight. The compression of energy or Chi flow energizes all the moves and forms or postures. Before compressing the flow, we must relax muscles and “decompress” the muscles to allow the energy flow. For every action there is a proportionate reaction, so therefore, the as the vastus medialis muscles contracts, and the flow of the energy is compressed, the body is primed for an action. After the action, such as after delivering a blow, the muscles relax and are “depressurized” and set up for next action. This is reflected in the Tao of Tai Chi Chuan as the Yin and Yang is evidenced in daily practice.
When we prepare for an action, we begin with reaction or relaxing of our muscles. We relax or de-contract the vastus medialis muscles that will, in turn, relax the inner thigh muscle, flex the hip joints, bend the knees, descending the energy or Chi, which primes us for reaction.
Therefore, the reaction will be followed by the contraction of the muscles for action. It is a natural way to prepare for an action; we see this demonstrated by many athletes, from the tennis player waiting for the ball, to the basketball player is preparing to leap. To release the vastus medialis muscle is to prepare for a reaction.
There are many different moves and postures in Tai Chi Chuan. Every move is an action different actions generate related reactions, which result in the formation of a different posture: An action is the result of energy rising, as a reaction…it follows…. from energy sinking that is coordinated with rooting or going down, allowing first for compression. This is evidenced in many sports such as when an athlete winds up. This demonstrates the natural actions of the (Tai Chi) body mechanics.
Each reaction accompanied by energy flowing and exhaling, is preparing to set up for an action. Preparing for action is always more work than the action. Once the reaction is set, the action is a reflection to the reaction. Relaxing leg muscles and torso muscles are playing the main role in Tai Chi Chuan.