Raleigh Chinese Martial Arts

Box Inside the Circle

TaiJi Framework- The Box | Softness - The Circle

by Sifu TW Smith

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Thursday night's practice was very rewarding. We have a group of new students who have been learning form and have been doing well remembering the pattern. After watching them for a bit, I made the statement, there many details that need to be worked out, both in how you are moving and your thought, while moving.

All movement co-exists with non-movement, so it is time to practice the Box Set of Tai Chi. The square inside circle; the fluffy round circle, supported by the frame, balanced square. The new students looks confused, the older students had a variety of responses; "uh-oh", "hmmmmm", and one later looked up and "I knew I was in trouble".

What is so challenging with the box set? It emphasises drawing the mind deep within, and uses a variety mind-scenes and rolling/reeling silk exercises. Physically it places a premium on your balance in every half-inch of movement, which in turn puts new demands on bone, tendon, and ligament.

The waist is the commander and the hips-shoulder move in coordination with intention and one another.

The Box set brings the posting/meditation heavily into the Tai Chi Chuan set. Each moment is accounted for and utilized during the Tai Chi Form, there is no empty movement.

What are some of the effects? Lots of new challenges and rewards. First most students find answers to their own questions during the box set. Every half-inch of movement reveals itself. Legs are shaking, foreheads are sweating, stamina is worn thin, all with a set of Tai Chi, yet every student say it is very rewarding, they "loved it" as they head to the water fountain.

The Box set of Tai Chi normally takes 3-6 times longer to perform and since we have "all the time in the world" while practicing we assess ourselves regularly.

I shared with the students that when I started Tai Chi Chuan with Master Chin, practice planning was simple:

  • stretch for 5 minutes
  • meditate 30 minutes (we were young and got off light, later the requirement was one hour before movement)
  • One set of Tai Chi, at that time, every night was Box set, so one set of form would take us One Hour.

  • That was it, I was spent.

Use the Box Set regularly to set a new standard and create growth. Use the circular set to flow through pattern. Use them both to become integrated, and then speed won't matter.

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