There is some discussion among practitioners as to whether these first, small, actions are part of Cheng Man-ch’ing’s original Form, but they are always included in its performance. They introduce techniques used throughout the Form, such as the shifting of weight from one leg to the other, the sinking of the weight, and the moving of the waist from side to side. To relax the mind and body, the T’ai chi checklist is always worked through before the Form is practiced. Before starting Preparation, the weight is pushed through the yung ch’uan point, and three slow, deep, breaths are taken from the tan t’ien, helping to create a calm state of mind.
Preparation step 1
With your weight evenly balanced, stand upright, and face forwards, relaxing the shoulders and hips. Allow the arms to hang by your sides. Shift most of your weight on to the right leg, bending the right knee slightly.
Preparation step 2
With nearly all your weight on the right foot, turn your waist slightly to the left, moving both arms around with your body. As you move, bring the heels together, bending both knees sideways to relax the hip joints.
Turning your waist further to the left, take a step to the left with the left foot about a shoulders’-width from the right foot. Place the left heel down on the ground first, and put a small amount of your weight on to it.
With nearly all your weight on the right leg, begin to turn your waist back to the right until you face forwards. Move your left heel to the right so that the toes of the left foot point forwards, and align the heels of both feet.
Shift some of your weight on to the left leg, turning your waist further to the right at the same time. Almost straighten the right knee, and sink the left knee downwards slightly to help absorb your body weight.