Internal Movement of Tai Chi: Looking Within
Erle Montaigue
20 November 2006

I receive literally hundreds of requests for grading per month from people all over the world. And only very few are given instructor's certification. The reason is that what matters most is what is happening within, not externally or how many forms you know or how well you can perform push hands, or do the martial applications.

I always ask those who would be instructors to allow me to watch them perform the foundation forms. Many will say that they also know such and such fighting form and that they can do fa-jing etc., and would I like to see that? I always say, no. let me see your form first.

And the reason for this is that anyone who is good at picking up movement and postures is able to copy anyone else to a certain degree and get the physical movement correct most of the time. A good ballet dancer for instance can look quite good at the main Taiji or Bagua forms … well sort of.

However, to the trained eye, it is only a representation of physical movement with nothing real happening at all.

In my classes I try to stress even to beginning students, that it is what is happening on the inside that really counts and which will hold them in good stead until they are very old. And one only gets internal movement from years of practicing the correct internal martial/healing forms as Qigong.

The internal movement of Qi or electricity is the most natural flow on earth; it is the basic movement of all things natural, a sine wave. Pure yin and yang is a beautiful thing and is at the base of every living thing, enhancing and purifying our body and internal Qi.

So it stands to reason that if we can get our external movements moving in harmony with out internal movement of Qi, then this is the road to great good health. And the foundation forms from Tai Chi and Bagua were invented by generations of genius to represent that movement of internal Qi.

The whole of the internal arts are based upon yin and yang but this is not so simple. Most people's idea of yin and yang within form is as basic as that the leg that holds most of the weight is yang while the other is yin. Most don't even get to what the hands are doing, or the shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists etc. These should also move in accordance with yin and yang. So a relatively simple movement like "Lift Hands" from the Old Yang Style has much more to it than meets the eye. The whole body is moving in accordance with opposites so that when the arms move down, there is s very slight movement upward of the body and when they move upward, there is a very slight movement downward of the body. These movements are such that someone watching could not even pick it up.

Moving in accordance with the internal Qi, really turns Tai Chi and Bagua into that which we have always read about; you can actually feel something happening inside with every movement, a sinking into the ground as your body goes 'empty' and the changes from yin to yang as you move even so much as an inch. And this is what heals the body, not so much the gross movements of the whole form but rather the imperceptible movements of the micro postures.

However, the trouble with trying to teach this area is that when I for instance do it in front of students, it is quite difficult to even talk and after, you just want to chill out as it is quite a lovely feeling over the whole body.

When someone knows this area of the internal arts, the energy created while performing these micro postures, floats over all in the room watching and a peaceful calm comes over the whole group. And this is the ultimate area of the internal arts; when someone is able to simply DO his training while people are watching and have them healed just watching. The old saying from China about TCM says that is a patient is not healed by the time it takes to walk from your door to your desk, you haven't healed them! This is so true also for one's Bagua and Tai Chi practice. And it doesn't stop there. That pervading energy created while performing form at its Qigong level will be taken back into your own body and causes your own movements to become even more perfectly balanced inside and out.