Features of the Exercise
Based on the traditional cultural ideas of the harmonious Yin and Yang of “Taiji”, unity between nature and man, and harmony between the interior and exterior and the features of the mace-holding diagrams and “connect Yin and Yang with the mace” in Daoyin Diagrams, Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang exercise has inherited the essence of traditional mace-holding exercises. The movements of the entire exercise are gentle, slow, relaxed, continuous, well-balanced between motion and quiescence, graceful, well-coordinated with mind and Qi, and easy to learn and popularize.
(I) Guiding Qi with the mace to achieve united form and spirit
Form means the body, including the skin, muscles, tendons, bones, channels, and viscera. It is the material shell for the life activities of the human body. Spirit means mental activities. It covers the spirit and the mind and serves as the internal master of the life activities of the human body.
The exterior not only refers to the body postures and limb movements, but also includes all external manifestations such as the mace-holding methods and mace-moving methods. The interior not only refers to the respiration and mind, but also includes all internal activities such as forces and artistic conception.
The exercise concept of Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang can be described as “using the mace to guide the circulation of Qi, giving priority to spirit cultivation, and assisting the exercise with the form.” All transitions between motion and quiescence, between opening and closing movements, between bending and stretching movements, and between forward and backward movements begin with the movements of the mace. And Qi goes where the mace goes. In the Daoyin of all directions of the mace, the practicer is required to stay calm and serene, move the mind before Qi, concentrate the spirit on the interior of the body, and maintain both the body and the spirit.
(II) Using the waist as the pivot to coordinate the body with the apparatus
During the Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang, attention is drawn to the waist which is used as a pivot for the twisting, rotating, bending, and stretching movements. And the waist movements drive the spinal column to move.
During the practice of Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang exercise, the practicer is required to relax the waist and hips, keep the body straight and stable, maintain a relaxed, flexible, and nimble waist, and guide the entire body with the rotating and emptiness-solidity movements of the waist in order to coordinate the entire body with the apparatus. The waist should be relaxed and lowered and Qi should be lowered to Dantian if the mace is raised. When the mace is lowered, the waist should be erected and Baihui should be moved up. When the mace draws a horizontal circle, the waist should be rotated like a millstone. The waist drives the body and the body controls the arms. All these have established the important role of the waist as a controller and pivot.
The waist is the vessel of the kidney and the kidney is congenital foundation. Through correct waist movements assisted by respiration and mind concentration, we can effectively regulate the congenital vitality, replenish the postnatal vitality, reinforce the healthful Qi, enrich the primordial Qi, and thus promote health.
(III) Integrating massage and mace movements
When a mace is used in the exercise, the mace will not only guide the close coordination between the limb movements and respiration, but also stretch and pull the tendons and bones to great extents and massage acupoints, channels and viscera. For example, the double-hand mace-holding movement will massage the abdomen and some other parts of the body so that massage is integrated into mace movements to deeply stimulate the corresponding viscera. This will reinforce the health-promoting effect of Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang.
(IV) Moving the mace in curves and in all directions
The moving routes of the mace should be always curves without angles at transitions, including both horizontal circle and vertical circle movements and back-forth, up-down, and left-right movements.
Ancient Chinese people believed that “the heaven is round and the earth is square” and “learned from the heaven” and “from Yin and Yang”. They also believed that “the heaven revolves”, “the heaven is dynamic and the earth is stationary”, and “the way of the heaven follows the rules of the nature”. Therefore Health Qigong • Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang is dominated by gentle, slow, and continuous circular movements and guided by the idea of “unity between nature and man”.
(V) Holding the mace with both hands to connect the mace to the body
The mace is an extension of arms which is merged into the practicer. The mace is held in both hands and the waist is used as a pivot to connect and drive all parts of the body. The mace guides the limbs and drives the viscera. The interior and exterior respond to, coordinate with, complement, rely on, and connect with each other.
This exercise can be either practiced as a whole or divided into individual routines or combinations of multiple routines. By using the mace to guide the bodily movements, especially the coiling and rotating movements of the wrists, the bending and stretching movements of the cervical vertebra, and the rotating movements of the spinal column, we can relax the tendons, regulate the channels, promote blood and Qi circulation throughout the body, and adjust the Yin-Yang balance of the human body in order to keep fit, build the body, and preserve health.
（Research Team for Creation and Compilation of Health Qigong•Tai Ji Yang Sheng Zhang）