This video shows a real world example of the use of soft and empty spaces in material to absorb hard impact.
In Tai Chi we apply the same principles to absord and neutralize an opponent’s attacking force and pressure.
If you train using model-free learning you might have a hard time figuring out how to do this. More so, if you do not take into consideration the principles of the Tai Chi Classics.
The Tai Chi method of Grandmaster Wei Shuren as taught through my teacher uses model-based learning to learn how to cultivate softness and emptiness to the point where it can actually be used.
For example, the principle of “receive strength do not use wrist” contains the method of receiving the opponent’s strength into emptiness. This same method is also contained in the short Skill Method (太極功法) exercise that has been passed down from Yang Chien-hou.
It is said that Yang Chien-hou used to sit on the grassy ground in the evening to practice this exercise. Though we learned it standing up it can also be practiced sitting on a chair. The key is not so much the external movements or the breathing method (there’s no special breathing method or Hen-Ha sound employed here) but in the use of intent.
The Skill Method exercise is divided into three subsets namely :-
a) Spirit Skill Method (神功法)
b) Intent Skill Method (意功法)
c) Energy Skill Method (气功法)