Tai Chi Internal Discipline: by Master Stephen Hwa

The concept and practice of the core element of classical Tai Chi, Internal Discipline, is discussed extensively throughout the Tai Chi DVD by Master Stephen Hwa. A brief discussion is presented here:

Internal Discipline enables you to initiate movements from the internal core of the body (the abdomen and back) rather than from the external parts of the body (the limbs), and cultivates and mobilizes your internal energy for health benefits and martial arts applications.

Example: Pushing the right hand forward with the arm and shoulder is an external movement. Internal movement uses the abdomen and the back moving the entire upper-quarter of the body, including the arm and hand, forward.

NOTE: Hover cursor over images to see movements. On a smartphone or tablet, lightly SWIPE image. Then tap outside the image.

Example: The arm and shoulder are relaxed with no movement relative to each other. The motion is entirely driven internally. In addition, other parts of the body are essentially not moving serving as the supporting structure for this movement. Another example of this upper-quarter body movement is the blocking motion.

Example: Turning of the upper body with the feet stationary is usually carried out by crossing the legs. This is a weak external move with little power, balance and stability. An internal move centers on the waist using the power of the abdomen and back while the pelvis and the legs essentially are not moving.

Example: For lower body movement, the power from the abdomen and back is transmitted through the pelvis to the legs. Visualize that the pelvis is an extension of the leg. To take a step, use the abdomen and back to lift the pelvis, which in turn lifts the leg. Move the foot forward and stretch the pelvis downward until the foot is fully planted. All of these movements are internally driven with the upper body remaining still. Then, the foot will pull the body forward to complete the step.

Classical Tai Chi, or Tai Ji utilizes the philosophy of yin and yang in every aspect of its practice. This philosophy asserts that every entity needs to coexist and interact with a counterpart of opposite nature in order to achieve balance and vitality. For every internal movement, a moving part of the body (yang) works against stationary part (yin) that provides support and power for the move. The junction between yin and yang is always located in the torso.

  • For the arm push forward movement described above, the junction is around the upper-quarter body area.
  • In the case of the turning movement, the junction is in the waist region.
  • For the step forward movement, the junction is at the lower-quarter body region above the pelvis.
  • If one pushes the hand forward with the arm, then the junction is at the shoulder.
  • If the turning movement is accomplished by crossing the legs, then the junction is at the legs.
  • If the step forward move is done with the leg, then the junction is at the hip. (These later cases are not internal movement.)

When you perform an internal movement correctly, you will feel the sensations of stretching and intense energy flowing across the junction in an otherwise relaxed body. Classical Tai Chi, or Tai Ji form teaches students how to use Internal Discipline in every move so internal energy circulates continuously throughout the body during form playing, tuning and cultivating internal energy in the body. From the martial arts point of view, the playing of the classical Tai Chi form is, among other things, practicing the mobilization and delivery of the internal power until it becomes instinctive, spontaneous, and instantaneous.

The appearance of internal movement is very deceptive. Most uninitiated observers will think it is a small, unremarkable, and simple movement and may opt for a more showy style. In fact, internal movement is demanding to learn, both mentally and physically. But, the results of the effort will be unparalleled in improving health and well-being and in martial arts applications, as well as sports performance.

A brief introdution to Classical Wu Style Square Form, Round Form, and Internal Discipline

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Health Benefits

Learn more about why Tai Chi with Internal Discipline has such profound benefits for your health.

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Tai Chi Video:
Instructional DVD

Classical Tai Chi offers a unique set of Tai Chi Video DVDs produced by Master Stephen Hwa, student of Grand Master Young Wabu. This set of DVDs and this website are part of an effort to bring the splendor of Internal Discipline back into focus.

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Book by Master Hwa...

Uncovering the Treasure
Classical Tai Chi's Path to Internal Energy & Health

Uncovering the TreasureThe true health benefits and the foundation for martial arts application of Tai Chi can only be achieved when the practitioner incorporates "Internal Discipline". That is, using internal movements and internal power to direct and empower external movements into Tai Chi practice. This book outlines a methodology and training routine to achieve this goal.

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