DOES TAI CHI BUILD POWER?
Yes, Tai Chi and all styles of gōngfu 功夫 styles, have exercises and methods to train and refine one’s explosive power. Through discipline and hard work, one is becoming more explosive. A term used to describe this explosiveness in traditional Chinese martial arts is fājìn, 發勁.
There are various ways to fājìn or release power, but the basic principle is usually the same regardless of style. One first learns how to use the ground to generate an explosive force, whether it be for kicking, punching or even breaking an opponent’s bones.
An example of fājìn, so you may get a visual, is Bruce Lee’s famous one-inch punch demonstration, that awed a Western audience. And it is seen by those who do not dig deep, as the holy grail of martial arts. But it is not, there are levels and that is why one needs to train to attain them and further understand how their body and the universe works.
In Tai Chi/Taiji Quan the concept of relaxing your weight into the ground and rooting yourself lays the groundwork to understand how to be explosive. The mention in the classics of using the lower body to control the upper body also indicates how one needs to strike. It is not simply about using the waist or hips to generate power. Because what drives the waist or hips, is the feet. As you sink into the ground, the reactionary force from the ground spiral ups and then the hips or waist may turn, say when you punch. The sinking causes the momentum, and it is like a screwdriver, to screw something in one uses a downward force and as the one side of the screw goes down one way, the other side goes up the other way, clockwise and anti-wise, yin and yang working together.
Tai Chi builds power by improving whole-body movement, which is good for your health. And this whole-body movement is an integrative power. That is driven by connecting the mind and the body. Allowing the mind to then take over.
On the subject, this post just touches the surface, and I am still learning, and my understanding increases with training.