Five Loosening Exercises
The Five Loosening exercises were formulated and integrated into the training of the Cheng Man-Ching Yang Style Short Form by Master Huang. These Five Loosening Exercises are unique in the sense that they're taught and trained by students from Master Huang's lineage only. Other schools that teach Cheng Man-Ching Yang Style Short Form don't have these Five Loosening Exercises but some Cheng Man-Ching schools have included other additional loosening exercises in their training that are similar, but have different emphases. For Master Huang to formulate and include them into the syllabus of his school was a stroke of genius. Each Loosening Exercise has its own emphases and characteristics.
What Master Huang had done was recognise and understand key elements and qualities that are needed if a good foundation is to be built, from which a stable and sound T'ai Chi form can grow. Master Huang broke T'ai Chi down to its most basic fundamentals in respect of alignment, relaxation, movement generation, sinking and will. By understanding these building blocks of T'ai Chi he formulated what he believed would be the best exercises that would train, instill and expose these fundamentals to the student of T'ai Chi. It is hoped that these exercises will lead the student to a deeper and more profound understanding of T'ai Chi. To call them Loosening Exercises really doesn't do them justice. To me the Five Loosening are very much like the scales of music. The professional musician, for example a pianist, will practice their more advanced repertoire , but they know for their playing to evolve they still need to practice their scales. Because when their scales get better it will lift their more advanced aspects of their playing. The Five Loosening Exercise are our scales in T'ai Chi. To view them as anything less would mean that you have missed the vast amount of knowledge and skill that is in the offering.
Combined, the Five Loosening Exercises teach and train in alignment, awareness, relaxation, the different directions of movement created by sinking, vertical axis, rooting, breathing, listening, grounding and mind intent. Personally I'm constantly amazed at the depth of these Five Loosening Exercises. A week rarely goes by that I don't glean something new from them. Also constantly changing is the way in which one performs these Loosening Exercises, change brought about by one's level of understanding and the need to investigate and emphasise some particular aspect of a Loosening Exercise. What I also consider brilliant, is the way in which lessons learnt in the loosening exercise are so transferable to the form and push hands, so much so that it can't be put down to coincidence. One of the major contributions and legacies among the many that Master Huang has left behind for future generations are the Five Loosening Exercises. At first these Exercises may look straight forward and simple, but anyone who has trained in them will quickly tell you that with constant training, and an inquiring mind, they will quickly reveal themselves for what they really are, rare JEWELS.