Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chi Sinks to Dan-Tien

Continuing our Tai-Chi Journey:

Starting today we will be covering the Alignment principles concerning the lower body.  Today’s principle will be ‘Chi Sinks to Dan-Tien’.


Let have a quick review.  There are 4 areas that need to be trained to enhance and cultivate your energy.  We call these 4 cultivation areas the BARS:  Breathing, Alignment, Relaxation, Slow/Synchronous Movement.  Currently we are covering the Alignment principles.  Within the Alignment principles, we have covered the principles of the Upper Body:

   1) ‘Empty Spirit Summit Strong’  (Covered on 3/8)

   2) ‘Tailbone centered and upright’ (Covered on 3/9)

   3) ‘Contain chest Raise Back’ (Covered 3/10)

   4) ‘Settle Shoulder Drop Elbow’ (Covered 3/11)

   5) ‘Squat Wrist Open Fingers’ (Covered 3/15)

We also discovered that all these principles are just one principle, each describing different aspects of the same principle.


Now, there are also 5 Lower Body principles:

  1)’Chi Sinks to Dan-Tien’

  2)’Relax Waist and Squat Crotch’

  3)’Round Crotch and bend Knee’

  4)’Insubstantial Substantial Distinguish Clearly’

  5)’Foot Palm Paste(Stick) Earth’


Let’s start on our journey of the Lower Body principles.  The first of the principles is ‘Chi Sinks to Dan-Tien’.


Two words that need to be explained, Chi and Dan-Tien.  Chi is the Chinese word for air or energy.  The Chinese character for Chi is the symbol of rice with steam rising from the rice.  The steam is the Chi.  This kind of gives you and idea of how the Chinese view Chi.  I would like to note that even though the word Chi means air, it is closer to the meaning of energy and not oxygen as we are accustomed to thinking nowadays.  It is important to note that when this word formed way back when, they did not have a concept of this gas called oxygen.


Here is a better way to get a feel for the word Chi.  Imagine that these Taoists are observing what the breath does to the body, and how the energy interact within the body and outside the body.  They realize that the energy is invisible, and they also note that whatever they breathe in is invisible.  They also note that depending on how they breathe, their body heats up, softens, and this heat or energy circulates around the body.  They don’t know what it is, but they know it is invisible and it has power.  They have to call it something.  So guess what, they call it “Chi’.


So, from a modern perspective if you look at the word Chi as the catch all word for the phenomenon of energy you have an idea.  Chi describes all the different sensations or phenomenon that you get to experience in the body that is not visible.  I think the new hip modern word to describe this in English is energy.  When you see the world Chi, you can safely substitute the word energy.  


Dan-Tien is another one of these mysterious words.  Dan is the word for red, and Tien is the word for field (like farm land).  The Character for Dan is the world Sun and Moon put together.  It is supposed to symbolize the essence and source of all energy.  So Dan-Tien is the field where Chi can be cultivated.  Dan-Tien is the field of Chi.  The location of the Dan-Tien is 3 finger width from your belly button from the front view.  From the side view, it is a third of the distance of the cross section from the front of your body.


Here is the visualization:

1)     Imagine that you’re the crown of your head is being pulled up by a golden string.  Yup that’s right.  ‘Empty Spirit Summit Strong’!

2)     Once you feel your spine is suspended, imagine your forehead opens up.  You may imagine that the place a little above the space between your eye brows has a dot, and that dot expands into a big circle until it spreads to your temples.  You should feel as if there is a glowing ball right behind your forehead as if there was another eyeball.  Some of you may know this is called the 3rd eye, or as 7th Chakra.  In the Taoist system this is called upper Dan-Tien.  There are 3 centers, or 3 Dan-Tiens in the body.  The upper, middle and lower Dan-Tien.  The middle Dan-Tien is center of the Cest.  The lower Dan-Tien is the Dan-Tien mentioned above.  The word lower Dan-Tien is used when the other 2 need to be mentioned.

3)     Place your tongue on the roof of your pallet behind your teeth.  Make sure that the tongue does not touch the teeth.

4)     After opening the upper Dan-Tien, use your mind to guide a line down the center of the front of your body.  As you guide your mind down, you will notice that there is a heavy sensation that follows.  Guide it down until you reach your Dan-Tien.  You will feel the heavy sensation sinking to your Dan-Tien.  When the sensation reaches your Dan-Tien, you will feel a sinking sensation and the insides of your lower abdominal walls letting go.  That letting go makes the lower Dan-Tien, or the abdominal walls feel like a full hot air balloon.


In the beginning, some of you may feel this sensation and some of your may not.  Stay with it and you will feel the power of this exercise as your cultivation of your Dan-Tien deepens.  If you don’t feel this in the beginning, keep up with the visualization, but at the physical level, when you perform ‘Contain Chest Raise Back’, you will feel your chest relax and the relaxation sinking to your lower abdomen.  That is another way to do this.  Continuing on the same theme, if ‘Empty Spirit Summit Strong’ is done is properly, and ‘Contain Chest Raise Back’ happens, and then you will feel ‘Chi Sinks to Dan-Tien’.  


Aren’t you curious how the rest of the principles are tied to the same principle?


History of Tai-Chi Journey up to this point:

Before the blog opened to the public, we covered the single person part of the system.

1. Chi-Gong (Taoist Longevity, White Crane Chi-Gong)

2. Standing Meditation

3. Stepping Mediation

4. 7 Basics

5. Basic Form

6. 30 Form

7. 108 Form

8. 4 Type Pushing Hands


Interactive training after we went public with the blog.

1. 8 Type Pushing Hands (Covered from 2/2 ~ 2/11)

2. San-Shou (Covered from 2/12 ~ 2/15)

3. Ba-Gua.(Covering from 2/16 ~ 2/19)

4. Weapons (Covered on 2/23)

5. Healing System (Covered on 2/24)


Non-Structured System:

1.     Introduction (Covered 2/25)

2.     Free moving – conditioning (Covered 2/26)

3.     Free hand pushing hand (Covered 3/1)

4.     Free hand (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/2)

5.     Free hand weapon (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/3)


Detailed Instructions:

1.Principles (Covered 3/4)

2.Principle of Principles (Covered 3/5)

3.Principles of Upper Body (Covered 3/8 – 3/15)

   1) ‘Empty Spirit Summit Strong’  (Covered on 3/8)

   2) ‘Tailbone centered and upright’ (Covered on 3/9)

   3) ‘Contain chest Raise Back’ (Covered 3/10)

   4) ‘Settle Shoulder Drop Elbow’ (Covered 3/11)

   5) ‘Squat Wrist Open Fingers’ (Covered 3/15)

4.Principles Governing Lower Body:

   1)’Chi Sinks to Dan-Tien’ (Covered today)

   2)’Relax Waist and Squat Crotch’

   3)’Round Crotch and bend Knee’

   4)’Insubstantial Substantial Distinguish Clearly’

   5)’Foot Palm Paste(Stick) Earth’


  1. So this crazy little thing called chi, it all started as a place holder. Sang you have just taught us where the three energy centers are in the body and how to feel them. This is powerful by knowing where they are we now have the beginning of better manipulation of the energy that they provide.

  2. It is amazing how the body and mind change when properly aligned. There is a synergy between structure and chi which is calming and yet powerful when everything is working together. The practice of attaining that state is a blast