Taijiquan: Beginning Torso Methods
The following is a monograph submitted by Josh Hart edited by Dr. Harkins Dashi headmaster of the Wujido Institute. Josh Hart is a Senior “Da Ge” in the Taijiquan Department at the Wujido Institute.
One of the key elements in the practice of Taijiquan is application of a set of principles variously referred to as the body or “torso methods” which is a kind of internal template of arranging or ordering the body both internally and externally. Torso methods represent the set of body principles that must be utilized so as to maximize the potential of the Taijiquan form of practice. At the Wujido institute we call this the “inner shape” of the body that allows for the cultivation of Qi as well as ordering the body for maximum leverage and effectiveness as a martial art.
Suspend the head top. The head is suspended as if from above. Imagine a string extending from the crown of the head with the neck allowed to extend slightly but not pushed upward with force. “light energy at the top of the head”. This makes the body light and agile and not heavy when rooting the body.
Drape the shoulders. The Shoulders need to be relaxed and in the socket and draped to the sides.
Level the waist. Leveling the waist allows the waist to rotate freely.
Sink the Elbows. The elbows must have a downward idea always, even when lifting and crossing.
Sink the Qi in the Dantien. Inhale through the nose drawing the breath into the lower torso. relax the diaphragm as the breath fills the lungs. This draws the energy from the breath downward past the solar plexus allowing the upper torso to relax.
These Torso methods provide a pattern template of how to order the body during practice. There are many more torso methods but these methods will have a profound influence on the ability to relax during almost any activity not limited to practice of the Taijiquan set (tao lu). Many others can be found listed in various publications with some variation but the best way to learn is to find competent hands on instruction in a class that will go into detail about these and many other methods.