The thing about learning an art is that you should not assume the obvious. I was going to write this post as Part 3 but didn’t have the time. Today Paul has written a short post where he mentioned “stand like a post, driven into the ground“. I suppose that this would be how most learners would imagine it to be.
However, in the Tai Chi Chuan that I learned and found to be effective one of the things that my teachers frowned on is this notion of needing to zhanzhuang. In short, to stand like a post as if driven into the ground is not taught nor encouraged. As I was just telling my student this week the problem here is the trade-off between mobility and stability.
If you are driven into the ground then you have strong stability at the expense of mobility. What we want in terms of combat efficiency is to seek a balance between mobility and stability. In this respect, we use form training to teach us how to have relative stability coupled with functional mobility.
This then is the purpose of learning Beginning Posture, to use the intention to fine tune one stability using mental connections to adjust the body rather than rely on standing as if driven into the ground. In fact, the careful reader of TaijiKinesis Vol 2 should be able to make the connection between what is written on pages 50, 56 and 116. To drive into the ground would invalidate and render totally impossible what is written in the first paragraph on page 116.
So there you have it, a very important key or secret as some masters would term it to Tai Chi Chuan. With this key you can have footwork that easily rivals that from styles such as Baguazhang and heavy, gravitational power from styles such as Xingyiquan. I have already revealed the key to this in Song of Form Play in TaijiKinesis Vol 1 on page 100 under 1.1 to 1.4. If the reader missed the meaning there perhaps putting it succinctly another way may help :-
Balanced on a pin
Connected to the ground
Don’t stand there like a fool!
Mobilize the intention!!!