Friday, 14 December 2018

Taijiquan's Fajin

Fajin (the sudden release of power) has become a common feature in Taijiquan, particularly after the wide spread of Chen Style Taijiquan in recent years. It has become fashionable and many practitioners have set great store by the "shaking elastic power" of Taijiquan.

However the condition of fajin is the release of cultivated strength (jin) and therefore a prerequisite is the presence of this strength. Jin is built up and accumulated over a long time and fajin is not a method from which to acquire it.

All fajin actions are preceded by a necessary storing stage. A highly skilled person has a short storing stage that is sometimes not detectable. A lesser skilled person needs to work more on storing and less on releasing.

Beginners especially need to implicitly cultivate and store energy rather than releasing and spending it. Many Taijiquan learners who are physically not robust, whose dantian is empty, whose structures are not correct and who are unable to regulate their breathing, are often in a hurry to fajin. Skill should be practised step by step. Do not be in a hurry and do not deceive yourself.

Taijiquan's "Three Reps"

What is considered good training in everyday practice?

In order to make good progress, besides daily training of basic exercises and "standing", it is standard to do at least three repetitions of the form. Each time, besides training the fundamental essentials, there must be different emphasis:

The first rep is to adjust and regulate the breath. Practise synchronising movements and breathing, so that the body's qi and blood can run smoothly.

The emphasis of the second rep is relaxation and sinking, opening and closing. The body should manifest the qualities of looseness and heaviness and explicitly express all opening and closing movements, so that the joints, muscles and bones of the whole body can become alive.

The key emphasis of the third rep is the application of jin. In every movement identify the source, the path and the final destination, and how to apply them, so that the skill becomes real.

On Patient Learning...

The process of learning Taijiquan gongfu takes far longer than the practice of external gongfu.

Taijiquan gongfu relies on patient learning over a period of time.

Moments of enlightenment may suddenly occur and flashes of brilliance manifest spontaneously, so that the casual observers believe that they occur by accident. In fact, skills are accumulated over a long period and are built from the basics.

Chinese idioms such as "go fishing for three days and dry the net for two" and "have one day's sun and ten days cold" - meaning to work by fits and starts - are frowned upon during the acquisition of skill.

It is well acknowledged that for Taijiquan skill "three years attain small success; ten years attain big success". People who practice Taijiquan not only need to work twice as hard but also be able to "get" it. If they do not understand what Taijiquan is, their "ultimate achievement is superficial".