Singapore Tai Chi Chuan

The Power & The Tension

Sometimes I say something and a student would not get it. However, until I could make them do it somehow they would not understand what I am saying and they would have this doubt.

I remember one student who used to learn Wudang Tai Chi who said that I seem to be tensed when using power against him. However, I told him I am not using much strength. How to reconcile his feeling and what I claimed?

I recalled this student recently when another long time student managed to get a movement precisely. He felt that he could move me easily and it was effortless. Now that I was on the receiving end I said that on the my side I felt as if he was tensed.

However, because the student (or me in this case) is unable to see what the pusher was doing or feel his muscles there is no way we can tell if he was using a lot of muscular strength or cleverly leveraging his body strength. In my case, I know because there are markers in a person’s movements when he is doing something correctly and when he is not.

This is one of those things that can be viewed of “I say” versus “he says“. One indicator of the use of excessive strength is when you resist the push and the pusher’s arms start to tremble and shake. He will then struggle to push you back.

If however he is using good posture your stronger push will only result in you being uprooted more easily. This is because when you apply more strength you are basically loaning the pusher more strength to unbalance you.


Author: ZenMindSword

Mushin is a practitioner, researcher and trainer for Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. He is also author of The Ip Man Koans, The Ip Man Questions and TaijiKinesis series of eBooks, as well as co-author of Complete Wing Chun.

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