Is There a "Holy Grail" in Tai Chi?


Many times in the past 30+ years of my Tai Chi learning, just when I thought my knowledge and skill has got to a “high” level, I would be brought crashing down to earth, sometimes literally. It would dawn on me, each time, that the bar was ten times higher than what I could conceive before the fall.

In his book “TaiJiQuan – Through the Western Gate”, Rick Barrett introduces the concept of “Energetic Coherence” stating, “Rooting ... appears to be a product of energetic coherence, not the source of it. … rooting and internal power are somehow dramatically enhanced when you consciously point you index finger.” He cautions, however, that one needs to feel the finger pointing, not just “think” about it. Then I came across the teaching of Master Peter Wu of Melbourne. An important procedure he emphasizes is to “extend the middle finger”! I had to take that really seriously, because Master Peter’s skill is astounding. But what’s this different finger thing? Apparently, Chen stylists extend the middle finger whilst Yang stylists extend the first finger.

I remembered the saying: “The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.” The real agenda may be what Barrett terms “energetic coherence”. Barrett probably means what the Tai Chi literature refers to as being “open” (the mandarin word is “Kai”) and it gets frequent mention by Peter Wu, who teaches that by extending the middle finger, one can “open” the rest of the body. Then also, in “Inner Structure of Tai Chi - Tai Chi Chi Kung I”, Mantak Chia says, “Another important part of Tai Chi is opening of all the joints in the body. … Taoist regard the joints as energy gates ……”, and further “To help open all of the joints in the body, grow the Chi in the joints of the index fingers and the big toes.”

All these three sources describe different ways to attain this common concept of “Kai” or “open” or “energetic coherence”. To me, this commonality is a sign that this is IT, the “holy grail” that I am seeking. Eureka!! …. I hope?



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