Fourth Lesson – The Power of Intention

The most outstanding aspect of Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s method of Tai Chi is the numerous models of fajing based on the use of intent as presented in the chapter entitled 内功勁法 (Internal Power Strength Method).

There are more than 30 models presented in the book. Many are unique to our style of Tai Chi; models such as :-

i) Fan  Interior Strength (扇面内勁)

ii) Knife Strength (刀勁)

iii) Filing Strength (銼勁)

iv) Rolling Strength (滾勁)

v) Folding Strength (折勁)

vi) Elastic Strength (彈勁)

The force models require properly focused intent instead of ordinary biomechanics to make them work at the optimal level.

To explain this I will use a favorite model, Rolling Strength (滾勁), that I like to use in push hands training. Below is the original model presented in Grandmaster Wei’s book on the 22-form :-

File 13-10-17, 21 45 15

Rolling Strength (滾勁) involves the use of a vertical circle to generate the power. I liken this to the rotating motion of a horizontal shaft which neutralizes the attacking power by harmonizing and drawing it in yet at the same time repels the opponent off-balance backwards through the use of centrifugal force.

Below is a diagram that shows how it conceptually works on the theoretical level :-


The keys to using Rolling Strength (滾勁) in free form push hands practice can broken into a few steps :-

i) Receive your opponent’s strength on your forearm

ii) Imagine your forearm is a rolling shaft

iii) The moment the opponent’s strength is connected merge with it

iv) Allow the opponent’s attacking motion to rotate your forearm in the manner of a vertical circle in conformance to the ancient Tai Chi maxim of Chi As (Turning) Wheel (氣如车轮)

v) Apply the maxim of 屈肘推身, 直肘撤身 to roll the opponent away, hence the name Rolling Strength

Below is a diagrammatic representation of how you actually receive and neutralize the opponent’s force and in the same motion repel him backwards in the same instance :-


If you have a flair for the dramatic you can add a Hen-Ha sound when doing the Rolling Strength (滾勁) though in Grandmaster Wei’s approach this is not required nor necessary. In fact, you should be able to carry on a normal conversation and with a wave of your arm throw your opponent backwards.

Below is a short video explaining Rolling Strength :-

At the beginning of the video I did a quick demo to show my friend Paul what it felt like when Rolling Strength is applied against his arm trying to apply pressure on my arm.

Then I showed him what it would be like if I tried to do it using biomechanics. The result of using “shape” versus “shape” is that the stronger shape would win. So in this case Paul is stronger and unless I use a lot more strength I cannot repel him.

The intent for generating Rolling Strength (滾勁) is trained in the movement of Single Whip in the 22-form. In fact, Single Whip trains four interrelated forces using the motion of whip arm as it moves through five distinct phases.

At 0:15 to 0:17 I did the rolling motion slower so that the magnitude of the “Peng” arc can be felt more clearly.

The particular posture in which Rolling Strength (滾勁) is practiced is shown below :-


Please note the seemingly effortless manner in which Grandmaster Wei is shown playing the form through the use of intent rather than overt physical movements. The practice and use of techniques using a Small Frame sans outer biomechanical movements in favor of inner focused intention is what makes our Yang style a truly internal style in every sense of the word.



One thought on “Fourth Lesson – The Power of Intention

  1. Pingback: Seven Brief Lessons on Tai Chi | Master Tai Chi Today

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