There is a thin fine line between being soft and being internal. Most practitioners, even masters can’t really tell the difference.
As such, everything is lumped under the term “internal” regardless of whether it is soft or internal. Consider a method of attack I taught a student earlier in the week.
Scenario – amidst our free flow push hands I bring up my right hand to strike the left side of his face. His reaction is to bring up his left arm, palm facing inwards to his face, to block my strike.
His block worked……….. for a second. In the next second I continued with the same attack and hit him where I originally wanted the strike to land. So what happened? Did his block worked? Or did it not work?
Investigation time – we examine the technique together. We just look at the isolated movements as follows :-
a) Z brings up right palm strike
b) X blocks with left arm, connecting his left forearm against Z’s right forearm slightly below the wrist area
c) Stop the techniques and check that X’s block has stopped Z’s strike properly such that Z’s strike cannot move towards its target
d) Now Z activates his secret “internal”, super Chi skill. X is waiting. Then Z moves and his strike managed to get past X’s blocking arm to touch Z’s face
e) Maybe Z moved too fast so the same sequence is repeated at a much slower pace. Same result, same feeling in that X could not understand how Z got past his block which was one minute secured and the next it was not. It was only when Z increased the level of movement that X finally felt something but even then X was not entirely sure what he really felt. Mostly X couldn’t feel much because he has not trained to the level where his mind and body is sensitive to subtle movements. This lack of awareness can cause his feeling to be deceived.
Note – normally if you try to strike the left side of your opponent’s face there are a few ways you can use your technique to increase its chances of success. One simple way is to move your arm really quickly. But for this learning we do not hit faster or harder. Instead, we just move at a medium pace and when we apply the strike we can do it a bit slower as it is more convincing.
Now if a master wants to fool you and take your money he would not explain how he did this trick. He would just say its due to his use of Chi, yes, that mysterious intangible, unimaginable, money spinning technique.
The reality is that how the technique got through even after its blocked, after we stopped moving for a second and then do it slower is due to the use of technique. This technique calls for you to visualize in a certain manner coupled with physically minimal use of strength. Every student learns this technique but not every student can use it because of lack of practice to acquire the refined motor control.
The technique is called the 5-Count. For more information refer to page 58 to 60, TaijiKinesis Vol 2 – Learning the Taijiquan Form.
I have not tried to describe the process here because I doubt that readers can catch what it means if my student cannot really understand it with a first-hand touch and feel demo.
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