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Why Real Tai Chi POWER is NOT soft?

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Why is Real Tai Chi Power not soft?

With decades of decay, Tai Chi as a martial art, for many reasons is more defunct than popular. People now days picture old Chinese people moving slowly in some park somewhere in China, when you mention this martial art. But with the aid of the internet, authentic practitioners, have made waves, old and young masters have an audience thanks to social media.

But why is Tai Chi power not soft?

Is this just a click bait?

No, an article on what is meant on softness in Tai Chi or martial arts in general is here.

That being said, a summary of what softness means, is that connective tissues like sinews are flexible or elastic. And not tight. Like that of a baby or toddler. This allows for better flow of blood and has health benefits. From a combat point of view, one can then issue power more effectively, without blockages. With the power or force originating in the feet.

And this is the reason why “strong legs” are needed in not just Taiji Quan (Tai Chi) but in martial arts in general. By strong legs, what is meant is the sinews of the legs are open and flexible, all the way to the upper body.

The classics speak of an iron rod wrapped in cotton wool; the iron rod is the power. The cotton is the muscles which need to release excess tension i.e., relax. And is the softness that enables the power generation.

For example, if a Tai Chi exponent were to place his hand on top of someone else’s hand, it would feel light. And depending on his proficiency in Tai Chi, it may feel light like a feather and then as he brings down the hand, it will suddenly feel heavy. Bringing the person whole body down. Because a rod wrapped in cotton wool will feel soft but if dropped on you. It will feel incredibly heavy.

Yang Cheng Fu, a Yang Style Tai Chi master wrote in his book, Methods of Applying Taiji Boxing– “Wield power like tempered steel”. This refers to a hardness (yang) which only arises from a softness (yin). And this power just like tempered steel is refined and is not brute force. So, it is dependent on the mind and not dependent on muscular force. Therefore, the mind will influence the external body; the muscles and bones, which all need to have excess tension released.

How does one achieve this power?

Through consistent training and you will begin to understand. Also, guidance from a good teacher is advised. However, once you achieve some skill you do not stop. But instead, you must continue as this power just forms a basis of Tai Chi power.

The training of the form in adherence with the principles and practices like standing practice, help in developing and understanding this power.

The training of the form in adherence with the principles and practices like standing practice, help in developing and understanding this power.

For example, standing practice as per my experience, standing practice like Zhan Zhuang, help one understanding the lower dantien. This understanding stems from placing the intent there when breathing and then connecting the dantien with yongquan.

With consistent practice you may feel vibrations, contraction and expansion. But do not get attached to the sensations you may feel during training. Like my Shifu has advised me. And what you begin to understand is that the motion is arises from the intent sinking into dantien and connecting with yongquan. Or that the motion is generated from yongquan.

Yongquan is an acupoint on the foot and dantien an acupoint a few centimetres below the navel.

One can use this power to even break a brick, from contraction to expansion as the palm descends down making contact with the brick. It will break the brick.

Tai Chi power is not soft, it is refined and may break the bones of an adversary. The principle is not only found in Tai Chi but can be applied or found in other traditional Chinese Martial Arts.

“The lone wolf does not seek refuge, he is a refuge. He does not seek out the community. He is a community. Now melancholy might settle, and weakness may creep in….”Harmonious Fist

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