“Holding the chest and pulling the back” is a key that many Taijiquan practitioners are familiar with. However, the proportion of people who have a comprehensive understanding and application of this method in the current Taijiquan practice group is very small.
1. The essence of holding the chest and pulling the back
Taijiquan actually has a dynamic posture with a changing range, which is not fixed and constant. Therefore, it has a basic posture as the starting basis for changes. This basic posture is the natural state. The chest pulls the back. Based on the elaboration of some predecessors in the relevant literature, this natural state of holding the chest and pulling the back is to maintain a naturally relaxed chest and back posture that best meets the needs of human physiological activities. When a person stands naturally relaxed, the thoracic spine has a slight kyphosis. Physiological radian, together with other radians of the spine, undertakes important physiological tasks such as buffering ground shocks to protect the central nervous system, so the back muscles relax, that is, people in a natural standing state present a basic back-pulling posture; in the anatomical structure of the human body, the body The line connecting the midline of the two sides and the line connecting the midline of the neck to the midpoint of the outer side of the shoulder has a slightly forward angle, that is, the direction of the two shoulders is slightly to the front and oblique side, or: the two shoulders are slightly forward. The front wraps, so there is a triangular dimple under the person’s clavicle, which means that a person in a natural standing state presents a basic chest posture. For people who do not have bad posture habits, they will feel that there is no stress on the chest and back in this posture. In fact, the capacity of the human chest cavity is the largest at this time. Therefore, the basic chest and back pull formed by natural relaxation is undoubtedly beneficial to human health, the circulation of qi and blood throughout the body, the sinking of qi into the dantian, and the stability of the feet.
Some people have misunderstood “pulling the back with the chest in it”. When practicing boxing, the muscles of the back are constantly exerted, or the back muscles are opened to the sides, or the shoulders are tightened forward, or the chest is retracted inward, so that the muscles of the chest and back are sustained. Maintaining stress, ineffective consumption of physical strength, destroying the natural relaxation of the chest and back, not only can cause damage to local muscle groups due to fatigue, but also affect the normal physiological activities of chest organs. It is neither good for health nor good for martial arts. This kind of posture is incompatible with Taijiquan from the theoretical analysis of Taijiquan, because such a posture violates the basic principle of the natural Taijiquan method of “refreshing the body and calming the body, and engraving it in the heart”.
In addition, there are mainly two kinds of bad postures that violate this basic chest and back. When trying to lift the chest, the physiological curvature of the slightly kyphotic thoracic spine is forced to straighten, or even reverse lordosis. The outer side drives the humeral head to stretch back, and the rib cage is compressed, which creates stress on the chest and back and ineffectively consumes physical strength. It is undoubtedly not good for human health to maintain such a posture continuously. It presents a bad posture, which makes the physiological curvature of the thoracic spine aggravated and enlarged, and the upper part of the thoracic spine leans forward, so the height of the spine is reduced, and the sternum is forced to retract inward and backward, thus forming The chest is concave and the chest cavity is compressed. It is undoubtedly not good for human health to maintain such a posture continuously.
With a bad posture as a comparison, as long as it is not a deformed chest and back posture such as a reluctantly concave chest, a raised chest, a hunchback, etc., when a person stands upright, the upper body is upright and naturally relaxed, and the chest and back are generally the basic chest and back, and as long as it is To achieve a basic chest, that is, to do a basic back pull, to achieve a basic back pull, that is, to achieve a basic chest, this is something ordinary people can quickly grasp and follow with a little guidance.
Taijiquan’s basic chest-pulling and back-pulling is fundamental. It is not the entire content of “pulling the chest and pulling the back” that Taijiquan’s predecessors said. Taijiquan stretches as it bends, sticks to it, and carries hands with one’s body. It is also necessary to rely on Because there is an emergency and slow down with dynamic changes, this kind of natural basic and dynamic change is the whole content of Taijiquan. The dynamic change of the chest and the back cannot be mastered overnight. It is a kind of kung fu that must be gradually cultivated through long-term training of the whole body such as boxing.
The two are closely related but also different. The two are closely related. Once the chest is dynamically contained, the corresponding dynamic back-pulling posture will inevitably appear, and once the back is dynamically pulled, the corresponding dynamic posture will inevitably appear. Dynamic chest posture; the difference between the two is the power of the two, the main working muscle group, the martial arts effect and the feeling of their own are different.
The direct reason for the dynamic chest is that the work of the pectoral muscles causes the sternum to drive the inner side of the clavicle and the inner side of the rib to retract and move backwards. A deep chest can make the acromioclavicular and other chest appear arc-shaped concave. Although the spine is forced to move back, it is often supported forward. The power of the chest muscles to work is caused by the feet and the abdominal muscles. Of course, The formation of breasts also has the auxiliary work of other muscle groups. In the pusher, different depths of breasts can often effectively take advantage of the situation to suck the opponent over, making the opponent feel disappointed, making the opponent’s attack much easier. The portion is very light.
The direct reason for the dynamic back pulling is the back support of the spine caused by the work of the back muscles. Deep back pulling, the shoulders and back can be presented in a backward arched arc, and the muscles such as the back trapezius are strongly stretched, so the back has a tight feeling. The deeper the back pulling, this feeling more obvious. This feeling is what the ancients called “air sticking to the back”. Mr. Yang Chengfu said in “Ten Essentials of Taijiquan”: “The one who pulls the back, the qi sticks to the back.” It can be seen that the pull of the back mentioned by Mr. Yang Chengfu in the article refers to the pull of the back at a certain depth, not the basic pull of the back. Mr. Yang Chengfu In the text, it goes on to say: “If you can pull the back, the ability will be developed from the spine, and you will be invincible.” Indeed, this kind of pulling the back is very helpful for the release of the overall strength, so that the strength is full and smooth. After truly mastering this dynamic back-pulling kung fu, the practical application and martial arts effect are very significant, and it is possible to make a small force beat a strong one. The bearing capacity of a round object is greater than that of a square object, which is mechanically certain. The suddenly rounded shoulder and back, with the cooperation of other parts, can efficiently transmit the whole body strength through the spine to the arm. Go out, so as to effectively exert the unique martial arts effect of Taijiquan to defeat the strong by the weak.
The power of dynamic back pulling is also from the feet, but it is mainly caused by the upward surge from the back, which causes the back support of the entire spine. There are many theories about the location of the gate of life in traditional Chinese medicine. In the Ming Dynasty, Zhao Xianke first advocated the theory that “the middle of the two kidneys is the gate of life”. But this life gate has no entity in modern anatomy. It is believed that it is in the second lumbar vertebra, which is equivalent to the range of the spinal cord of the second lumbar vertebra. Such a Mingmen is surrounded by vertebrae, and of course it cannot protrude; and the “Mingmen” point, which has been named in the Jin Dynasty in Chinese acupuncture and moxibustion, is located in the depression between the second and third lumbar vertebrae spinous processes, but only 1 The range of size is only about millimeters. For example, the posterior protrusion is nothing more than a subcutaneous section at most, and it has no practical significance for health preservation or martial arts. In fact, the so-called “protrusion of the back of the door of life” refers to the back support of the entire spine, the reduction of the physiological curvature of the slightly lordotic lumbar spine, and the relatively straight line of the spinous processes of the back of the lumbar spine. The left and right parts of the back support feel more obvious. An important task of the rear protrusion of the gate of life is to form different degrees of deep back pulling. The deep pulling back can make the arms and shoulders in front of the body in the front of the body like a balloon that is about to explode when it is full of air, producing a powerful force in all directions. The sudden formation of the deep pull of the back not only makes the arm produce a strong forward force, but also produces a strong backward force on the back. Teacher Jin Renlin called it: “Only the back can hit people, and the front can hit people.” He pointed out that this is a manifestation of Wang Zongyue’s boxing theory that “there is a front and a back”.
Regardless of whether it is dynamic to hold the chest or to pull the back dynamically, the shape of the shoulders wrapping more forward will appear to varying degrees. This is mainly caused by the backward movement of the sternum and spine, not the result of the active forward movement of the shoulders. If there is no movement of the sternum and spine, but only the two shoulders move forward, that is, the scapula and clavicle push the humeral head to move forward, the thoracic and back posture formed in this way seems to be like holding the chest and pulling the back, but it has no meaning in martial arts and cannot be considered as a However, many people mistakenly regard this practice as “holding the chest and pulling the back” in Taijiquan.
Deep chest pulling will also compress the thoracic cavity, but the upper part of the thoracic spine does not tilt forward, the spine just moves backward almost parallel, and the posture changes dynamically and is not maintained for a long time, so it is harmless to the health of the chest. The joints between the ribs and the sternum, and the joints between the ribs and the vertebrae were originally allowed to have small movements, and most people have almost no opportunities for such movements. Dynamic chest pulling and pulling the back provides the opportunity for these joints to move, which is beneficial to prevent the degeneration of the rib joints; In addition, the dynamic action of holding the chest and pulling the back makes the chest cavity tighten and relax, just like the chest cavity receiving massage, which is beneficial to human health.
After careful observation, it can be found that many people in the folk push hand circle are often dynamically using the chest to pull the back, and many people with high push hand skills will have a deep chest pull the moment when the opponent is attacked and released. The effect of martial arts. Significantly. But there are other people, although they also use dynamic chest and back pulling, but because it is not the result of the changes in the whole body, but only local changes, so the effect of martial arts is not good.
In Taijiquan practice and pushing hands and other activities, I realized that in the movements with the intention of pressing, squeezing, pressing forward, pressing, elbowing, leaning, etc., pulling the back properly and dynamically, and pressing, withdrawing, pressing down, etc. In the movements with other intentions, properly and dynamically holding the chest will make the body with the hands and the arms feel lighter, which is conducive to training intentions without exertion, eliminating the clumsy force on the arms, and helping to cultivate the ability to stretch and pull. On the other hand, I realized that the overall strength of the whole body reaches from the feet to the arms, and it is necessary to move the chest and pull out the back dynamically. However, dynamic chest-pulling can play the best martial arts effect, and it must also rely on the natural relaxation of the basic chest-pulling as the basis. If you always maintain a certain depth of chest-pulling, dynamic chest-pulling will not work. will be weakened and destroyed.
It should be mentioned that: Pushing hands sometimes sinks the shoulders and stretches the outer end of the clavicle backwards in order to meet the needs. At this time, it seems that the chest is protruding, but the sternum and spine do not move forward. This change not only resolves the opponent’s pain. Offensive, and both shoulders and arms are still moving smoothly and with ease, such a protruding chest posture is essentially different from the general “chest up”. It cannot be regarded as a violation of “holding the chest and pulling the back”. The world is absolutely always Existing in the relative, there is no unconditional departure from the relative absolute, and “holding the chest and pulling the back” cannot be treated with five conditions and rigidity.
Second, the correctness of holding the chest and pulling the back should not be doubted
To sum up, whether it is basic or dynamic, holding the chest and pulling the back is not only beneficial to fitness and strengthening the body, but also has great significance for exerting the unique martial arts effect of Taijiquan. It is one of the essentials related to the essence of Taijiquan. After the 1900s, some people criticized the chest-holding or the back-pulling, and even thought that the chest-holding and back-pulling were not Taijiquan things, saying that they were only imposed on the Taijiquan theory in the 1920s. The main reason why they think so is that they do not understand that there are many words (including some terms) in Chinese that cannot be understood literally. It is understood that the “holding the chest” and “pulling the back” they understand are not at all the “holding the chest” and “pulling the back” in the concept of Taijiquan; in addition, they do not know much about the history of the formation of the concept of “holding the chest and pulling the back”:
It can be seen from the relevant literature: Zhang Sanfeng’s poems about Taijiquan, the first one contains the words “to restrain the rib and hold the crotch” and “the chest and back are open and the two beat each other”, and the third one contains “qi sticking” Behind the back, converge into the spine”, and Wang Zongyue’s song has the words “open and close according to the situation and embrace in the arms”.
The “chest and back” in the above-mentioned Zhang Sanfeng’s verse is “stomach sound” in the earliest extant manuscripts. After the word is “open strength and two hammers”, the so-called “two hammers” means that the directions of the two hands are opposite, and the most important part of the body that Taijiquan requires to open is the chest and back. The “weiyin” in the text refers to the “chest and back”, so it is undoubtedly correct to think that the word “weiyin” is “chest and back”.
Zhang Sanfeng’s words of “restricting the rib cage”, “opening the chest and back”, “breathing the back”, and “opening and closing according to the situation and hugging in the arms” mentioned by Wang Zongyue obviously all refer to or include “holding the chest and pulling the back.” The concept of ” reflects that both Zhang Sanfeng and Wang Zongyue have a rational summary of “holding the chest and pulling the back” in their boxing thoughts.
From about 1853 to 1880, Mr. Wu Yuxiang summed up the “eight essentials of body skills”, two of which were “holding the chest” and “pulling the back”; then Mr. Li Yishe summarized in his “ten essentials of body skills”. “, “Holding the chest” and “pulling the back” are still listed as two of them.
In the 1920s, Mr. Yang Chengfu listed “holding the chest and pulling the back” as one of the key points in “Ten Essentials of Taijiquan”. If you stretch out, the qi will embrace the chest, the top is heavy and the bottom is light, and the heels are easy to float; for those who pull the back, the qi sticks to the back. “
Mr. Hao Yueru said in “The Ten Essentials of the Movement”: “The top of the heart is the chest, the chest should not be raised, it should be loosened down, and the shoulders should be slightly forward. The spine between the shoulders seems to have the meaning of bulging, the shoulders should be flexible, and the head should not be lowered, which is called pulling the back.”
From the above quotation, it can be seen that the concept of “holding the chest and pulling the back” has a long history. Although the names are different, the essence is the same; it can be seen from the written data that until about the 1980s, no Taijiquan predecessors had a ” “Holding the chest and pulling the back” has raised objections and criticisms. The tai chi essentials of “Hanging the chest and pulling the back” have been affirmed by countless Tai Chi fighters and ancestors since ancient times. To dismiss this point lightly is an irresponsible and careless act to the historical and cultural heritage of the motherland. It is harmful to the inheritance and development of Taijiquan, and must be discarded. There should be more people who truly and comprehensively understand the essentials of “pulling the back with chest in mind”, and “pulling the back with chest in mind” should be fully cherished, researched, inherited and developed like other Taijiquan essentials. This should be a must for all Taijiquan lovers common language.