Taiji Culture, Philosophy and Technology

Song as activity vs state, part 2

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

So from the beginner’s course (yang sheng gong, 养生功,基本功), we start by having good alignment posture. This allows the body to stand with minimal effort. Because when a structure is not well built you need lots of forces, counter-weights and counter-balances to keep it up. Think of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Alot of effort is used to keep it up due to its ‘bad’ posture. These constant effort creates tension. So unless u want to become a tourist attraction it is better to have good alignment and posture.

Moving on from here, we are working with Master Wu Tu Nan’s insightful description of Song. Song is 无牵扯.
Detached. Unfettered. That is what true relaxation is.

Think about our physical sensations when we feel tense. A part of our body might feel like it exist as a hard chunk. It might feel knotted. It might feel blocked. A particular joint or area of body might not be able to move freely. Often when we bypass a blockage there is a clicking sound or feel, or even a snap. We suddenly feel looser and freer. All this means that when a part or a joint is tense, it is 2 things not free of each other, locked or tangled or meshed together. To be relaxed therefore is to unlock, untangle, unmesh.

It is a long journey to deep unfettering. How to start?

We can start by dividing the body into parts and becoming aware of the parts individually. So we start by thinking along the 15 major joints and sections(十五节), the internal organs (五脏六腑), the trunk and the limbs (干和枝). We become aware of one and all.

Into this awareness we start to practice 拆开, physical detachment, dismantling. There are many ways we can chaikai. In the next part let’s talk about some of them.

Song is a big topic in Taijigong. As Master Wu Tu Nan said, the soul of Taiji is Song (松是太极拳(功)的灵魂).

Song can be translated as relax (放松), relaxed (松弛)or even released, open (松开).

Song is firstly a good state that we want to acquire. Physical, mental and energetic state of being relaxed. A condition or a quality to achieve. Not just in the superficial and gross material like muscles, but also in deep materials like our internal organs, deep tissue, bones and ultimately at the cellular level.

However, saying that is to talk about an aim, not a training method. Nor even a step by step simple instruction.

This is where Taiji teachers and students have to know better. It is not enough to keep exhorting self or student to ‘relax’, or worse, ‘Soften! Relax! Why can’t you relax?!’ It is more useful to start thinking of methods and instructions to practice Song. That is, what can we do to acquire the state?

Fundamentally, we have to start by realizing that Song is activity, instructions and methods and not just a state of being. Then we will concretise what is nebulous, and help ourselves immensely.

In part 2 I will share what we can do about Song in our traditional and systematic Taijigong.


A Fascinating Bio Vid for Taichi people

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Taijigong people, spare some time for this fascinating video, superbly narrated. These info brings to mind so much of deep Taiji gong principles, and might even form the material basis for them. The endless extensions. Fragmentation. Automatic response. Taking care of all directions. Neither a feather nor fly can land on you…弥深弥长,支撑八方,虚空粉碎,应物自然,曲中求直 直中带松,一羽不能加 蝇虫不能落…thanks Julius for sharing

Strolling Under The Skin



Author: Sim Pern Yiau

one hundred years on stage

Just experienced this moving performance on Wed. Gratitude to Esplanade for bringing it in.

The play about Beijing opera performers, by Beijing opera performers. When the characters talk about the utter discipline and perseverance that this job demands, you know in your guts its true. Because the grace, power and intelligence displayed by the performers themselves are testament to the sweat and tears their characters talk about.

Like Taiji Gong at the highest level, what moves people the deepest in Chinese opera are the subtlest things. That turn of the wrist, that sideways glance, the inflections in a word, the control and finesse in the hips embodying a masculine femininity…

“No matter how coquettish or winsome, you will never be as attractive as a real woman. What you need to do is not to replace the woman on stage, but to bring to the woman what only a man playing a woman can. You need to find the yang in the yin.”

“If Bai Su Zhen is truly angry and hateful of her Xu Xian, why would she bother coming here to rage at him? Therefore playing rage is wrong. You need to find her Fear, her fear of losing him. She needs her yin within the yang.”

But it is not only the leads that moved me. From every supporting character, chorus and ensemble actor, some of them very young, and from every department from the musicians to design to costumes, the passion and commitment is truly inspiring.

This play brings together two of my loves. Traditional practice and the theatre. They both make great demands on the body, mind and heart of the practitioner. In the case of the theatre, on the voice too.

I have also taught actors and dancers at a couple of performing arts schools. I have a group of disciples of Taijigong. Those among them who work hard never fail to move me with their dedication and enthusiasm. After this play, I am thinking of some of the others and wondering if they would ever know what it means to truly sweat for your craft. They should come and see this play.


On the importance of Power, 功力

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

What is big? Big is something that u can take away from when u need a little. What is little? Little is not something that u can increase anytime u wish.

Thus in Taijigong, the ability to use little force to overcome big force, depends first on having big force. Then you can learn to use this force in little ways. Thus power (gongli, 功力) is of fundamental importance.

Any practice of deep relaxation with qi work will grow gongli, for example long years of Taijiquan movement practice. However, in our traditional Taijigong system, we have dedicated practices called Ding Gong series that grows gongli in a focused and quicker way. Without this, Taijiquan is not very practical as defence until many years down the road.

Still, great power takes time and hard work to acumulate, so all disciples should get going sooner than later!

Only when u have big power, then can u speak of techniques of using small against big.

The greater the power, the more refined are the techniques available to u.

These techniques are to be found, embedded and hidden from view, in the movement forms of Taijiquan, Sword and Sabre.

But when you h ave not accumulated enough power, these techniques remain just ideals and stuff of legends and wuxia dramas. You will have no practical way of grasping them, either in mind or body. Soon, the form becomes opaque to you, and just like every other practitioner you meet, you are just cutting watermelons in the air, year after year.

This is what has happened to mainstream Taijiquan. Without qi, without gongli, everything is just talk, and soon loses meaning.


Momentum in Taijiquan, Taiji Sabre and Taiji Sword

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

以气运身,步随身走 Move the body with the qi, and your feet with the body.

In the beginning stage of taiji, you place a lot of focus on deliberately and consciously fulfilling the physical requirements of Taijiquan in every shape and phrase. These requirements include matters of coordination, flow, unity and dissection of the form. When those have become naturalized and you don’t have to think about them so much when doing them, you shift to 以心行气, mentally engaging with qi to support all the physical practice.

After years of practice, you gradually reach again a level of naturalization, this time not of physical requirments but of the qi activities. Of how the qi takes precendence in executing bodily movements. At this stage, you must allow the qi to move the body, and the body to naturally lead the steps.

In low level Taijiquan, and often in normal walking, we see people lead with the step. That is the leg and foot steps out and then the trunk follows. But in advanced Taijiquan, qi moves the trunk and then the qi and trunk leads the legs naturally. The legs should not ‘think’, should not be deliberate, but should move and change as and when the energy in the form requires them to change. In defense and sparring moments, they change in natural requirement through the interaction with the opponent.

This principle becomes clearer for those of you now learning the Taijigong Xuan Xuan Dao (太极功玄玄刀). Because the sabre or broadsword is the extension of the arm, so when you extend your qi from your arm, both the physical and qi extensions are more pronounced. As always, open the earth gate, build up the qi through the lower sections and on into the trunk. As the qi moves from trunk to the upper sections and then the sabre, it takes over the momentum of the body and draws the legs, in a natural coordination along with it. The result, when practised well, is the unification of body and qi in every moment of defence and attack (完整一气). Not only does this give you great power in dealing with the opponent, but also ensures that you always stay balanced on your feet and cannot be toppled.


Discover your Qi! at Wellness Yogi RESET

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

EVENT: Discover your own Qi in 45 minutes!
by Master Sim Pern Yiau (in English)Sim-Pern-Yiau-198x300

Dear Friends

We invite you to join us and discover your own Qi in 45 minutes at an event on 11 July Saturday at Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.

For more information about the event, please visit the organizer’s website: http://www.wellnessyogi.com

Kindly direct all your enquiries to the organizer, at ing@wellnessyogi.com

If you would like to register and purchase a PASS for the Event, please CLICK HERE

EVENT: Discover your own QI in 45 Minutes! (by Master Sim Pern Yiau)
@ Wellness Yogi Reset
Date: Saturday, 11 July 2015
Time: 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Venue: Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade

Feel Your Own Qi!
It doesn’t take forever to actually feel Qi (bio-energy) in your body. Taiji Qigong wouldn’t have existed for thousands of years if it did. Without Qi-work and the principles of flow, coordination and yin-yang balance, most Taiji have become diluted and nothing more than aimless arm-waving. Join us for an hour where we introduce you to real Taiji where mind, body and Qi comes together in a meaningful way.

About the Instructor
Sim Pern Yiau is a certified 5th Dan Shifu under the Wu Tu Nan Taijigong lineage. This traditional system has its roots in the holistic teachings of the great sage Lao Tze. Shifu Sim has been teaching since 2005. He has students in U.S., Chile, Germany, Norway, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. He researches into traditional Taijigong as well as modern applications for various contexts such as healing and enhancing performance in dance, acting, singing and music performance.

Other than our Taiji class, there are many more Yoga and other Wellness events awaiting you. Make a date today!

Do not underestimate the principle of shang xia xiang sui (上下相随). In the basic stage, this principle means the upper five sections follow and coordinate with the lower five sections in timing and direction. It is mostly a physical principle. Even then, many students do not execute this physical requirement conscientiously.

But at the intermediate level, it means that the qi of the upper sections and lower sections are operating in the same manner, serving the same ends. Observe Taiji kicks for example. If the foot is a heel kick, the hands will be with an erect palm. If a toe kick, the palms will be more down-facing, essentially sending the jing/qi more through the fingers than the laogong (劳工穴).

Observe the moment before the leg is extended into the kick. At this moment, the arms/hands are usually crossed in front of the chest. The arm on the outside will correspond to the kicking leg. That is, if right kick, it will be right arm on the outside.

What these mean is that the upper and lower sections are physically and energetically unified.

Paying careful attention to shang xia xiang sui over years of training and practicing it with zhu zaiyuyao (主宰于腰,control from the waist) and wenhe (吻合,稳合 stable connection) then leads us to advanced unity – wan zheng yi qi (完整一气). At this stage, not only are the upper n lower limbs unified, every point in the body is actually integrated into the whole, even when they are acting in different directions.


Active Taiji for Active Aging

Author: Sim Pern Yiau

Taiji for Active Aging 20 May 2015

Active Taiji for Active Ageing by Master Sim

Venue : 3rd Space at China Square Central (Basement beside Cold Storage)
The Long Room
Time : 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Please register with Ms Carol Kuan at u3a.carol@gmail.com.

More information on How to get there :

In just this past year alone, I have known three persons with stage 4 cancers that have got relapses after doing the chemotherapy-radiotherapy route. Two of them opted to do further rounds of chemo and are now dead. One of them, a 31-year old man, died not from his lung tumours but  from the chemo scarring that caused his lungs to collapse.

The survivor has rejected going back to chemo and is doing alternative energy therapies. Her cancer marker has been steadily declining. We are still hoping for the best.

A student of mine who was also a cancer drugs researcher told me that essentially modern medicine has no cure for stage 4 cancer and chemo just serves to prolong life.

I wish more doctors would put that info to their stage 4 patients clearly and in no uncertain terms.

I wish doctors and medical scientists would stop saying something is incurable when all it means is they or science have no cure for it.

Then more people can look for alternatives, and decide for themselves if the destroy-all method of modern cancer treatment is really the best way for them.