What is Dantian, (or Dan Tian, Dan Tien) and where is it located? And what is the meaning of Dantian in T’ai Chi Ch’uan? Originally I named this post only to ”Dantian and Tai Chi”. But you can’t really understand what a Dantian is without speaking about Qi and ”Qi circulation”.
First, there is not only one, there are three. Dan Tian means ”Field of Elixir”. The point we refer to with this word is the lower Dantian and they are all important for Neidan (Internal Alchemy) and refining Qi. In ancient China, The Dantian was considered as a stove that produced steam, or Qi.
The Top Dantian is often refered to the forehead and sometimes it says to resemble the third I, located somewhere between and slightly above the eyes. But in Daoist tradition, it just lies somewhere in the brain. An exact spot is not mentioned. The Top Dantian resembles the Shen (Spirit), but in Tai Chi it could also be expressed by Yi (intent/intention/focus). The Middle Dantian resembles breath. It’s located at the solar plexus.
The Lower Dantian is what people refer to when they only mention a Dantian. Some people confuse the location with a acu point. This is wrong. The Lower Dan Tian is not on the skin, it’s inside the body and below the navel. The distance from the navel will differ from a person’s height and body type. But it’s a spot which can be felt. If you sit or stand in Wuji or in any Tai Chi meditation postures and relax deeply, you should be able to physically feel this area.
As a trinity, the three Dan Tians work together. The lower Dantian is where Jing is refined to Qi. Breath from The Middle Dantian will move and circulate qi, this steam. But for cntrolling and directing the Qi, you need to use the mind, or Yi. This is using the Top Dantian. You need to be very clear and focused. But you never focus on your Qi directly. If you focus on your Qi, it stagnates. But wherever your Yi goes, your Qi will follow.
For Tai Chi, The Lower Dantian is regarded as the center of the body as well as the center of all of the physical movements. All of the movements should be coordinated and arranged from The Lower Dantian. In Chen Style, movement of the Dantian area coordinated with reversed breathing is called Dantian Rotation.
In Tai Chi, Taoism is turned into a practical exercise. You really don’t need to understand it’s theory, history or cultural background to make it a successful exercise for both health and as a Martial Art. Just practice the physical movements and practice it in a martial context and it’s quite enough. But it’s you must also understand the importance of a center and to organize your movements from this point. But frankly, whatever you want to call this center is up to you.