|Ray Wood, 'Tai Chi Chuan and Related Subjects'
The flow and accumulation of energy in the body during
the performing of Tai Chi can be represented, in an
accurate and enlightening way, by means of twelve hexagrams
that are collectively known as the "waxing and
waning cycle". This cycle has been widely used
for theoretical purposes in several different fields
of Chinese traditional knowledge; including acupuncture,
meditation and the calendar. The cycle itself is fairly
simple to describe, the ideas of "waxing"
and "waning" having to do with the orderly
increase and decrease of the number of unbroken (yang)
lines in the hexagrams involved.
The cycle may be considered as starting from the hexagram
number 24, which has a single yang (unbroken) line in
the lowest place, and all of its remaining upper lines
are yin (broken) . By continuing further stages into
the cycle it can be seen that the yang lines move successively
higher up the hexagram, and the lines below them remain
yang. Thus, the second hexagram in the cycle is number
19 (bottom two lines are yang); the third hexagram is
number 11 (with three yang lines in the first three
places) ; the fourth hexagram is number 34; the fifth
hexagram is number 43; the sixth hexagram is number
1 (all lines are yang) . This completes the "waxing"
part of the cycle, after which the "waning"
first hexagram in the "waning" part of the cycle
is hexagram number 44, which has one yin (broken) line
appears on the bottom. Next is hexagram 33 (which has
two yin lines); the third hexagram is number 12; the fourth
hexagram is number 20; the fifth hexagram is number 23;
the sixth hexagram is number 2 (all lines are yin) . This
completes the "waning" part of the cycle, after
which the "waxing" begins.
Through the use of your imagination it is not difficult
to see how this pattern of hexagrams can be used to
give an accurate account of the regular cyclic processes
of nature, such as the phases of the moon and seasons
of the year. What is perhaps less obvious, but no less
useful once the idea is understood, is to apply the
same principles to the description of cyclic processes
within the body. In fact, the flow of energy during
the playing of the Tai Chi Form is a particularly good
example of such an application.
To begin with, it is sufficient to consider the very
first movement of the Form, in which the arms are raised
while the knees are slightly straightened, and then
the arms lowered as the knees are bent once again.
The movement of the arms and leg action in this posture
is designed to guide the flow of chi (vital energy)
from the feet, up the spine to the top of the head,
and then down the front of the body to the abdomen.
To describe this flow of vital energy, the waxing and
waning is quite appropriate, for each hexagram in the
cycle indicates the progression of the energy to a certain
part of the body. Fu (hexagram number 24) represents
the very beginning, in which the energy rises from the
soles of the feet. Ch'ien (hexagram number 1) represents
the point at which the knees are straight and the energy
has risen up through the spinal column all the way to
the head. K'un (hexagram number 2) represents the outcome
of the lowering, in which the energy has moved down
to the abdomen.
Ray Wood, 7th Dan Karate, Tai Chi, exponent of Kyushindo