Focusing the Mind

Refining skills require nitpicking at the small details. For example, moving the right arm up into a guard posture seems simple enough but if not enough attention is paid to it then many deficiencies will come in, becoming a habit over time. When these habits creep over into push hands training with a resisting training partner that’s when the failure to pay attention to the small details will show up and cause your structure to buckle, inability to respond instantly, ineffective neutralizing skills, etc.

Many of the root causes can be traced back to seemingly unimportant movements. For example, if you don’t perform the raising and lowering of arms properly in Beginning Posture then when you move your right arm into the guard posture when commencing Grasp Sparrow’s Tail the gaps in your defense will manifest themselves.

Sometimes a student may have a problem trying to understand how the position of the right arm guard is related to the training of raising and lowering of arms in Beginning Posture. Even demonstrating how the gaps can be exploited may help little. To address this deficiency the teacher must think out of the box on an alternative way of teaching the movement.

In this instance, an occasional illustration used for teaching the distance between the hands during raising of the arms can be used here. This analogy likens the distance between the palms to be akin to holding a ball. In fact, the movement of the right arm guard is similar to that of bringing up the hands from the dantian to the chest level in the first movement in the Wu / Hao long form.

The value of this exercise is in how the mind is focused. Without the mind component the student can try too hard to issue power and ends up with inefficient energy release. However, once the mind is gathered properly the body will fall in line and fajing becomes effortless.

If we add in the waist component we can increase our power through the increase in mass. The waist component provides a means to break the opponent’s root just before we issue power, making the fajing process much easier and require lesser effort. When working on the waist component we must not forget the vital parts of the hands that must be involved, the timing required, how the mind is focused, etc. The sum of basics + basics + more basics = Master Tai Chi Today.

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