Internal Pressure or Tension

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We cannot live with either high or low blood pressure. Many experts in China believe that the blood flow is the physical expression or 'opposite' to the Qi flow. We must also maintain a balanced level of internal pressure where Qi is concerned. The biggest mistake that most instructors make is to take the literal translation of sung and then 'relax so much that they lose any internal tension, mistaking it for external tension. If we have too little blood pressure we become ill and eventually die, same for high blood pressure. It is the same with the level of Qi pressure in the body. We must maintain a balance of this pressure. We can attain this by the practising of our forms. Another reason why the forms are so important. External martial artists take this idea too far and only use external tension while the 'mystical' variety of Taijiquan people take it the other way with no internal tension, both are incorrect.

You must 'feel' something in your hands. It is only a feeling that lets you know that internal tension or pressure is present. It does NOT manifest as physical tension. It is as if your hands are filling with something. Then as your mind sends the Qi out from your palms (PC 8, Pericardium 8 point or Laugung), you will feel something actually flowing out to infinity from your palms.

One way that the ancients had to learn about internal tension was to place rings over their wrists. Nowadays many martial arts instructors mistake this for simply trying to build up big muscles! This was not the reason because, actually, weighted arms when used too much will eventually build up all of the wrong muscles for attacking. We do not attack by lifting the arms straight up! And this is what happens when we weight the arms. No, the reason was so that we could understand about internal tension. Do NOT use weighted arms to excess, only once per week is enough to learn what it has to teach you. This practice alerts your mind to the fact that you have internal tension, in other words, it places your mind onto your hands and the heaviness of your arms. It will cause you to have very small movements and to move in harmony with what your weight is doing. You must always make your hand movements to be in harmony with the weight changes. And sometimes, there are very subtle weight changes, which cause very small hand movements. Many of the movements for instance from the Taijiquan form seem to be missing from the form of a master. It is just that they have become so small and internal that they only seem to be not there.

One thing that I have found to be of help in the absence of the rings is simply to wear a heavy coat or jacket when practising your form. This of course is difficult in mid-summer, but in winter it works quite well. The jacket will alert your mind to your arms and hands and cause you to move more slowly. Many of the ancient masters said that we should wear long sleeves when practising our taiji. Some of the modern masters translated this as that we wear long sleeves so that the Qi will not escape! What a load of old cobblers! We simply wear long sleeves to put the mind onto the arms. Once you have this idea and internal tension comes naturally, you do not have to have any weight on your arms, as the internal tension will be there always. I usually demonstrate this by having someone place his or her hand onto my forearm. Then I show them what changes take place by feel when I have no internal tension, I again show physically and through feel what my arm feels like when I have too much tension thus over spilling to cause external tension. I finish by showing by feel what it feels like when I have a balanced internal tension. They can always feel something different, but it does not have any appreciable physical difference.

When your hands and eventually your whole body has a balanced internal tension, your hands in particular will feel quite heavy but alive, your movements will be small and slow. This in turn causes your fa-jing movements to become VERY small, as this is the only way that fa-jing can ever BE fa-jing. You have actually arrived at "advanced soft fa-jing", the highest level of fa-jing and Qi transference.

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