The journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step. Veer by a few degrees and you may well end up somewhere that you did not intend to be, except you may not even know that you don’t want to be there in the first place.

I watched my student perform the section of the Yang style 108 form that has a number of kicks. He has a habit of bringing his hands up, raise the knee, posed for a second, then slowly stretched his kicking leg out.

Nice, if you are taking part in a wushu Tai Chi competition. Not so useful if you are practicing Tai Chi for combat. Why?

For starters, when one of your foot is off the ground you are not as stable as you should be. The longer you keep your foot off the ground the more chances you offer to the opponent to take advantage of your unstable state.

Our rule is simple when doing kicks – when ready, kick. Don’t pose.

How do we know when we are ready to kick? How do we set up the conditions that allow us to kick whilst minimizing exposure to a counter-attack when we are in a vulnerable state? How do we kick?

When we practice the form the above three questions are some of the things we are investigating. Each part of the entire sequence that makes up a kicking technique helps us to perform the kick with precision and power.

Proper study of the kicking movement will help you to learn how to kick without telegraphing your intention to kick. The 5-Count principle is useful in this regard.

When I demonstrated how to do the 5-Count distinctively my student asked whether this would be telegraphing as I was doing it obviously for him to feel. I don’t know whether to laugh or what. I would not want to say this was a stupid question, rather it was a question that was not well thought out.

To answer his question I showed him what it would feel like if the 5-Count was performed in a refined manner. After I showed it to him he told me what he felt this time.


Yes, this time he couldn’t feel when I would kick him even though my hands were in contact with his arm.

Not posing is important when learning how to move in Tai Chi. This is because the movements are not for us to look good, or to feel the Chi like some New Age-y folks would go. Instead, the movements are to teach us how to move in compliance to the principles and the strategies that would allow us to use the art.

LogoWant to learn how to get rid of your wushu-centric Tai Chi habits that are preventing you from mastering Tai Chi? Click here.

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