Magic Pill

Sometimes I think it would be nice if someone can make a Tai Chi magic pill that we can swallow and solve our health problems, or address a martial arts learning issue.


But alas, it is not to be. The thing about any martial arts or exercise is that we need to move. How to move is another issue.

Sometimes I use an example to illustrate the difficulty in learning Tai Chi. For some of the other systems I have studied its like learning to balance a pin on a pole. Certainly its difficult to do so until I realized that Tai Chi is like learning to balance a pin on top of another pin!

The writing medium is incapable of fully describing some of the difficulties in learning Tai Chi properly. Sometimes you can read something and think you understand. The reality is until you try doing it and compare what you are doing with someone who can do it in compliance with the principles you might not even realize that you do not really understand.

Time and again my students would say they understand what I just explained and showed to them. Sometimes I would reply that they do not understand until they can do what I just did. This is what Lao Tzu meant by saying that the Tao cannot be explained.

I have a friend who wants to learn Tai Chi for the purpose of fixing his body structure because its affecting his use of power.

I asked if he had checked with his other teachers first because I mean, that is the purpose of having a teacher in the first place. Alas, for him the answers he got does not address his problem specifically. Some teachers even said to live with it.

I undestand the frustration because I once had a problem with my ability to issue power, threatening to derail my practice. In despair I asked my Tai Chi teacher what to do. He explained to me some things, I believed him, put in the practice and today I can carry on practicing.

My friend wanted to know whether I can teach him to reroute how force is transferred. Honestly speaking the answer is no because the way the human body moves is subject to the laws of physics. What I didn’t tell him (but he will know after reading this) is that how force is delivery can be changed. And this is where the Tai Chi method is different from the other arts that I have learned. Its not to say the other arts are no good, just that they would not address my earlier fajing problem.

I had a look at my friend’s photos and told him I saw something. He thought it was too much leg strength or perhaps its the leg bow issue. Take a look at the picture below – what do you think (I have cut out only this part of the photo so that he would not be recognized).


As I can see from this photo at least two problems are obvious. These two problems can be fixed. Whether they can be fixed easily or fast depends on the person doing the practice.

Fixing the problem only addresses one part of the question. The second question is how to be able to issue power. I would say that initially issuing power using a new structure is not easy because a lot of new things to get used to. Given enough time the skill can be mastered.

A last issue is that most students would either fail or learn the skill incompletely because :-

a) they do not practice enough

b) they let their old habits get in the way of acquiring new habits

c) they want to learn fast and practice more instead of practicing with care


As a trainer I would be happy to teach my friend but with the multitude of arts that he is practicing (not to mention that he is also a trainer) I am not sure if his learning would be successful. From my own experience learning and teaching I would say that one must be in the proper mindset if the learning outcome is to be successful.


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