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Sticking, Yielding and Following-Tai Chi Secrets

The four skills of zhang, lien, tie and sui are developed through tui shou or push hands in Tai Chi. Zhang is to adhere, lien is to stick or yield, tie is to connect and sui is to follow.

I remember my Shifu saying that lien to stick/yield is associated with softness. And to follow is to have sensitivity.

Softness, meaning the release of excess tension and increasing the suppleness of your tendons and most connective tissues. Like the sinews and fascia.

This is what they mean when they use the word softness. The body is not tight, stiff, and bound up. Instead, it is open like that of a toddler. And this has beneficial health benefits as it allows for better blood flow.

This internal flexibility or elasticity of the connective tissue is key in absorbing and redirecting incoming force.

One can have better power delivery when issuing power.

The following aspect or sensitivity gives you the ability to detect your opponents weak and strong points. But it also lets you know your own weak and strong points.

With sensitivity you begin to detect your opponent’s intent and then when you use softness, should they attack, you can neutralise them and launch your own attack.

The concept of “softness” is the same as that of “ju” in jujutsu or judo. It is a quality of being yin and its shape is akin to something that has roundness.


Roundness facilitates deflecting and neutralising an attack easily then something like a square. It is a defensive aspect. But the offensive is straight and direct-after you have neutralised your opponent.

But what births this softness and sensitivity is your ability to sink. Zhan Zhuang can help in beginning to understand sinking. And once you can begin to understand you can apply this feeling of sinking when doing anything else or when doing form work.

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Written by Narcisse Sadi, Tudi (student) of Dr Jeff Lan, certified (by the International Health Qigong Federation) 1stDuan Health Qi Gong and certified (by Dr Jeff Lan) 1st Duan Yang Style (Cheng Man Ching lineage) Tai Chi Chuan Instructor.



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