I have noticed many similarities between ballroom dancing and taiji prinicples of movement. For instance, move from your core. Lead your partner from your center; do not move your arms relative to your body when leading, know where your weight is, keep your head up and spine straight, etc.
I tried to make a one page summary of Zhangsanfeng’s princples for my dance teacher. On reading it, she was very excited and said “Exactly! Exactly” and asked for permission to give it to her other students. She also said, “Haven’t I been telling you this for years?”
Taijiquan principles of movement
– From Zhangsanfeng, 1350 AD
- In any action, the body should be light and agile (qing and ling). You should feel that all of the body’s joints are connected with full linkage.
- Qi should be stirred. The spirit of vitality (shen) should be concentrated inwards.
- Do not show any deficiency, neither concavity nor convexity in movement.
- The internal energy (jing) is rooted in the feet, bursts out in the legs, is controlled by the waist and functions through the fingers. By moving as a unit, you can advance or retreat with precise timing and the most advantageous position.
- Where there is something up, there must be something down. Where there is something forward, there must be something backward. Where there is something left, there must be something right. If you intend to move up, you must simultaneously show a contrary tendency downwards, just as someone who wishes to pull a tree up pushes downwards first to loosen the roots, so it can be easily uprooted.
- You must distinguish substantiality from insubstantiality. Where there is substantiality, there must be insubstantiality. In all ways, you have to distinguish one from the other. With your center of gravity displaced to one side, you can be fluid. If you are double-weighted, you become stagnant.
- The whole body should be linked together through every joint; do not show any interruptions.
- Long quan [a long sequence of postures], like a great river, flows unceasingly.
- If the qi is cultivated, the spirit of vitality (shen) will be raised. You can feel as if your head is suspended from above; thus you can avoid any slowness or clumsiness.
- Strength comes from the spine. The steps must be changed following along with changes in the position of the body.
– John Rhoades is a Tai chi and Ballroom Dance instructor in the USA.