Although many books on tai chi assign the eight internal energies of peng, ji, lu, an, lieh, tsai, kao and jou to the eight trigrams, they are not manifestations of the trigrams themselves, otherwise bagua—the art form of the I Ching—would employ that methodology. In bagua’s palm changes, all eight internal energies are used in each palm and yet each palm develops the energy of a single trigram.
Likewise, in tai chi, you stream through the eight internal energies as you practise your
form and yet your focus remains on developing the energy of a single trigram. When
practising a form or any section that is highly familiar to you, your focus is placed on the trigram of your choice, the energy behind the symbol. You then attempt to make the jump
and contact that particular primordial energy.
From gross to subtle and big to small, transitions link form and content into cotinuous, fluid motion. Most practitioners focus on the broad strokes of the forms they practice and pay little attention to the seemingly less significant transitions that link them together. However, transitions are precisely what carries forward any momentum and qi development, making possible more profound levels of practice and supercharging power and health benefits.
On the other hand, when not executed properly, transitions can sever the momentum you build and thereby diminish and limit training results. Therefore, the wise and dedicated student hones in on the all-important linking components as a means of generating efficiency from move to move and advancing their practice.
The Five Elements: Old Taoism’s Cycle of Transformation
Tao journal, February 2013 excerpt:
As one of the three key streams of Tao energy arts, Five Element Theory can be applied to understand the manifest world in which we live, such as feng shui and astrology, music and military strategy, martial arts and medicine, diet and therapy. There are many schools of thought and many dozens of systems available to work with the Five Elements. For example, the Creation-Destruction Cycles—or Wood-Fire-Earth-Metal-Water and Wood-Earth-Water-Fire-Metal, respectively—were popularised during the first half of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), and remain widespread today.
However, Old Taoism’s approach to the Five Elements is primarily concerned with transformation in body, mind and chi. The Transformational Cycle is represented as: Water-Fire-Wood-Metal-Earth.