“Water the roots and the flower will appear by itself”.
Looking back some years ago when learning from my first teacher Sifu Chau Chui Kwan I was impatient and attended practice several days a week and wanted to learn all the techniques and “special moves” he had to teach and I wanted to know the “one best” technique for fighting.
Sifu Chau informed me that Kung-fu comes down to one little posture and this one little posture also happens to be the most effective for self-defence. If, you practice just this one little posture you will, he said, develop good Kung-Fu.
Sifu Chau graciously showed me the one little posture and importantly the mental frame, and said, now practice it. Now, I must say, I could make no sense of it, I could not for the life of me see how this one little posture would lead to mastery or attainment of any skill, particularly, martial skill? Egotistically, I was dismissive of the teaching. Well, how things change? As I have continued along my learning path I have consistently revisited this one little posture idea (I now call, “the-root posture”), given me by Sifu Chau.
Now, talk about being a slow learner which, I guess, is the “norm” for Tai Chi - none-the-less, It is only now, some 40 years later, I am beginning to make some sense of the gift Sifu Chau shared with me. It is only now, I realize, that one little posture, all the while, held the key to unlocking the entranceway into not only T’ai Chi Ch’uan but in the development of ones Kung-Fu generally. Only now, can I begin to understand the idea behind both the Taoist philosophical statement of; “water the roots and the flower will appear by itself” and the sentence in the T’ai Chi C’huan classics, “Though the changes are many the principles that pervades then is only one” and make the connection back to Sifu Chau’s just-one-posture teaching.
The foundation of Tai Chi Chuan, we are informed, is laid, when the Chi has sunk to the Tan Tien. Sinking the Chi is also the foundation of health, self-defence, and longevity as I understand it to be in the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Correct posture is the precondition to sinking the Chi in the Tan Tien and correct posture is a manifestation of the conscious application of principles in practice. Of the one thousand Tai Chi postures we can learn, we can only ever do one at a time, the value lay in the one… not the thousand.
- JBH 2015
John Hartley, Founder and Principal Instructor of Inner Health School of Taijiquan, Adelaide