One of the more remarkable things about studying taijiquan is how learning a new concept changes your whole approach to how one practices the form. Another such concept is “Open is not a position; it is a mobility,” Shifu said in a past class. This comment came as a result of my demonstrating opening the right kua on the inward part of the right positive circle. This movement results in a stretch through the right side of the groin, which is the position that I thought meant that the kua was “open”. This was not the case. Shifu demonstrated that the right kua can be open when it structurally does not have that “stretched open” appearance, such as taking the above posture and turning further right and sitting into a lower stance. Openness in the kua is the ability to move freely. It is not locked or solid. Conversely, closed is when there is “stiffness” or connectedness through that joint. Closed is when it is solid.
But open and close mean nothing without each other. You cannot measure “open” without something being closed and vice versa. This is the case with the kua – one cannot be open without the other being closed. This rule not only applies to the kua but to all parts of the body as well. You need to establish a point that does not become involved in the situation. This point is the closed part or the “fixation point” as Shifu sometimes calls it. The parts that are involved in the situation can then move freely. But if we cannot establish this “independence” in the body, then we have no Taiji – no separation of yin and yang.
Back to circles and the manifestation of open and close throughout the form… Clint