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Tai Chi Styles
introductions to other styles and aspects beyond the Yang From

Tai Chi Hands

 

The detailed relationship of every movement and position of the hand is as important as any other aspect of Tai Chi practice, i.e. manoeuvring the legs, feet, hips, body and head, etc. The cleverly organised hand forms have an intrinsic relationship with the bodily patterns, positions and configurations. Every turn of the hand and wrist will effect the muscular activity of the entire arm, as well as the structure of the whole body. Therefore the hands must function intelligently with conscious form, becoming an integrated element in the composite movement. When you move correctly and freely in the Tai Chi Form, your inner energy will be projected outward through the very tips of the fingers.

Ordinarily when the shoulders and arms are relaxed and hang vertically down by your side the palms turn inward toward the body. It can be noted that the palms are curved and the fingers relaxed. The Tai Chi hand, however, is not as this natural gravitational relaxed hand. Conscious effort is used to straighten the fingers slightly, which in turn lengthens the palm. With the fingers separated slightly from each other this adds natural tenseness of the muscles and tendons. This kind of tension is an "intrinsic matter" because of the extra effort needed to separate the fingers. The hand is now in "neutral". Hands should never be permitted to relax completely, they are not decorations attached to the arms. A Tai Chi hand is alert and ready for action (having energy of its own) . A hand with the fingers consciously held tight together gestures stiffness in the palm and knuckles. This is "extrinsic tension".

An aspect that reflects the degree of energy used depends upon the force of gravity. When an arm is held vertically downward or is moving downward (no matter what the hand is doing) then the energy exerted intrinsically is less than when an arm is horizontal or moving upward.

Hands may be put into a category as having yin, yang or neutral energy. The movement and position of the arm / hand determine the energy value.

 

Yin Energy Hand

The wrist is straight (natural) so that the hand is in direct line with the lower arm. The hand must not tip sideways. The palm may face inward toward the body, or downward.

Yang Energy Hand

The wrist is flexed so that the hand forms an angle to the lower arm. The palm may face outward, inward, upward, downward.
Neutral Energy Hand
As for the Yin hand. The palm may face sideways or at a diagonal angle.

The Tai Chi Beak (hooked) Hand

This is a yang energy hand with a "soft curved hollow" yin palm. The wrist is bent with the fingers pointing downward. The fingers are gathered together around the tip of the thumb to form a beak. The fingers then become a hard pointed "weapon" capable of stabbing or tearing.

The Tai Chi Fist

The hand is held lightly and loose in a fist, the bent fingers folding naturally over the palm. The palm is curved (yin). The wrist is straight. There is no added pressure applied.

Palm of the Hand

The palm is known as the "heart" of the hand.

 

 
The Tai Chi hand, however, is not as this natural gravitational relaxed hand. Conscious effort is used to straighten the fingers slightly, which in turn lengthens the palm. With the fingers separated slightly from each other this adds natural tenseness of the muscles and tendons. This kind of tension is an "intrinsic matter" because of the extra effort needed to separate the fingers.
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