Tai Chi comes from Wu Chi
Wu Chi – This stance is the starting point and the finishing point for all the exercises. Postural alignment: feet shoulder width apart in line with hips, insteps parallel with toes pointing forward. Weight is on Yong Ch’uan point, K3, the Bubbling Spring. Knees are unlocked, relaxed, in plane of force between hips & feet. Body Center of Gravity is low belly; weight allowed to settle there by releasing tension above there. Spinal column is elongated by decreasing the lordotic curves at lumbar & cervical, almost as though there were puppet string attached to fontanelle. No strings attach to shoulders, allow gravity its due and release what you can. Hands are alive, neither rigid nor tensed. Filling up, filling out, straightening and settling. Wu Chi is the void before Creation: nothing is manifest, everything is possible.
Zhan Zhuang – Stand like a Tree and Hold the Balloon.
Vitruvian Man – full expansion @ double shoulder width stance.
In keeping with t’ai chi principles, movement should come from the hips, tan t’ien connected. As in the familiar AAROM exercise Table Top Shoulder Flexion, we use the body to move the arm.
Sagittal Plane: Rock on knees & hips to foment flexion/extension arm swings. Scoop up, push down. X 60
Transverse Plane: Lean Forward & Fold back to generate movement with arms in horizontal plane. X 60
Row: Drop slightly to raise arms to chest level, pull the elbows back to slide past the sides with the forearms, hands & fingers horizontal. Push down with the fingertips, arms, shoulders, to circle back up again. X 60
In any weight-shift/rotation exercise, care must be taken that knees are not torqued past a safe limit. Ballistic exercises are edgy this way, use caution & consciousness.
Beating the Drum: Rotate Wu Chi stance L/R, rhythmically rocking. Torso remains erect, rotate on a plumb axis. Allow arms to follow centrifugal forces. Play with realizing the amount of centripetal force involved in holding onto the arms.
At the railway station, Wave Good-bye. Weight shift with hip rotation. Leading hand knife edge (ulnar,) trailing arm soon to become leading arm as the hips reverse rotation.
Serving Tea and get your tip. Fingertips lead. Palm is always up; something in palm is a good kinesthetic reminder. It’s a Figure 8. Forward & Reverse.
Another Figure 8. Start with circles: turn left, roll right hand over a ball shape in front of you, over the top and to the left, then down & under & up and repeat. Let the hips drive the movement. Now turn hips to right as you reach behind, shoulder height. Circle down, under, back up and repeat. Repeat enough circles in each direction that they are familiar in direction, then put them together to form figure 8. Hips drive the movement. To layer the exercise add weight shift/hip rotation. 70/30 stance: Right foot forward, rear toes out ~30 degrees (maintain shoulder width.) Rotate hips to Right without losing knee alignment. Withdraw onto left foot maintaining that hip Right rotation. Rotate hips to Left (without losing knee alignment.) Add the figure 8 with a Left fingertip reach with Right hip rotation, withdraw and add Right fingertip reach with the Left hip rotation. (Fairly high level exercise.)
Variations on a Pendulum theme for External Rotation – Flat Broke, What a Pretty Day, Dearly Beloved, My Fellow Americans.
Variations on a theme for Internal Rotation – Use the Jostle from the Kidney mobilization exercise – backs of hands against hips, and a slight jostle from knees sends the hands up & down. As tolerated, bring hands toward posterior center-line, wrists as high as lower ribs, index fingers following course of tailbone.