To explain Tai Chi clearly will take quite sometime but I am going to make it really simple and straight forward. It may not be exactly accurate, but the point is to make you understand Tai Chi, not to give you a history lesson on Tai Chi. To explain Tai Chi, we will need to start from the very beginning.
Before anything existed, the universe is a void. It is a void and yet, it is full of everything mixed and lumped together. It is a void of all possibilities. However, everything is still and not moving. We call this void “Wuji”which means “no extreme”. One fine day, things started moving within the void. Things started separating into polar opposites. A boy appears along with a girl, white appears with black, left appears with right, up appears with down, soft and hard, good and evil, day and night and it goes forever. This separation of polar opposites phenomenon is known as Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is born from Wuji. In Tai Chi state, separation and differentiation occurs. Now, separation itself is in fact not good enough and there should be a very clear separation between them, nothing fuzzy and nothing in between. It is just like oil and water. They cannot mix. Even if you stir them together, they will finally separate clearly into water and oil. The principle of clear separation is extremely important in Tai Chi. Therefore, the martial art Tai Chi strictly follows this principle.
Now that we know what is Wuji and what is Tai Chi, we should also know what Yin Yang is since it is closely related to the principle of clear separation. Let us initiate by clearly describing the Yin Yang symbol. The Yin Yang symbol is basically a circle. It is split in half by a black swirling portion and a white swirling portion of equal proportion. The black portion is known as the Yin and white portion is known as the Yang. Both Yin and Yang are always equal in quantity but opposite. Now, this is important. Yin and Yang need to co-exist. Yin cannot exist if Yang is not around and vice versa. You need one of them to bring out the other. There cannot be a situation whereby there is only Yin or only Yang. When there is no clear separation, we can only call this Wuji.
There is more to the Yin Yang symbol than just polar opposites. It is important to note that no matter how pure the yang or Yin energy is, a small amount of the opposite will still exist within it. For example, within Yang, there exist a dot of Yin and within Yin, there exist a dot of Yang. This situation is represented by the small white circle engulfed by the black or the small black circle engulfed by the white. To make this point clear, we can think about day and night. In the day, the sun is up and bright, yet there are shadows within the day. In the night, it is dark but there are moon and stars. In another example, we can relate using human nature. A good man may have some dark secrets and a serial killer may have been a filial child to his mother. The Yin Yang symbol is a representation of balancing forces. Even though Yin and Yang are equal in amount, we need a small amount of opposite energy within Yin and Yang to balance the forces.
Another important point to note is that both Yin and Yang energies are constantly changing and shifting in an energy dance. Without this movement, there will never be a clear separation of Yin and Yang. Without the separation, yin and yang cannot co-exist. They will revert to Wuji. Through the constant movement to separate yin and yang clearly, there is Tai Chi. Tai Chi is more than just martial arts. It is a principle, a philosophy, a concept and a way of life. It can be applied in many things that we do. However, this book aims to only discuss the martial aspects of Tai Chi. We are interested to discuss how to apply Tai Chi in martial arts and more importantly, how to make it internal.
A martial art becomes Tai Chi when Tai Chi principles are reflected through its execution. Tai Chi principles will make the martial art internal. It is not qigong that makes Tai Chi internal. Many schools and masters will have said that they practise chi so that is why they are internal. I will not say no as this is one of the avenues practitioners use to achieve “internal Tai Chi”. By avenues, I am talking about how we can achieve internal Tai Chi. You can train using chi or without chi. As long as you are able to split Yin Yang, that is all that matters. Just like education, not everyone comes from the same school. Every schools may have their own syllabus and curriculum, but I am sure the answer of two plus two is the same regardless of where one is educated. Therefore, chi or no chi, as long as the art that one practises is based on Tai Chi principles, it is internal Tai Chi.
So, why does applying Tai Chi principles to the martial art makes it internal? By now, we should know that Tai Chi principles are closely related to splitting Yin Yang. To put it very clearly across, splitting Yin Yang is the reason for Tai Chi to be internal. But what exactly is splitting Yin Yang?