Explosive Tai Chi Fajing

‪Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s method of Yang style Tai Chi fajing using the energy of Step Push (踏按) makes for sudden, explosive, penetrating power. ‬

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Be Emptiness

In Zen it is said “When you see a mountain, become the mountain; when you walk along a river, become the river”.

So in Tai Chi when you see emptiness how do you become emptiness? If there is a secret to our style this would be it.

Emptiness and Form

“Form is emptiness and emptiness is form” – Heart Sutra

If you diligently abide by the instructions on how to practice your form you can experience the true meaning and implications of this Zen teaching.

This is also how you know if your form is a meaningful form that trains the internal or just a form that waves hand about meaninglessly.

Zen in Tai Chi

When you play Tai Chi form with intent you will enter the Zen state transmitted by Boddhidharma as :-

Muku doku,

Kakunen musho,

Fushiki

Vast emptiness,

Nothing holy,

I don’t know

This is part of the teaching that my teacher passed to me within the learning of Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s style.

This is not a theory but can be realized by those who sincerely abide by the principles.

MasterTaiChiToday on Slack

I’m teaching the ladies today and a thought entered my head – I gotta write this down before I forget it.

Background – I teach each student differently. In theory everyone learns the same Tai Chi. But how they learn it is a different story. 

Some learn through the form and some learn through push hands depending on their learning ability. To me form learning is the best way because within a form you can pick up the following knowledge :-

1) Principles

2) Functional structures and movements

3) Strategies

4) Changes

5) Mental simulation

Some students have a hard time learning the form because their ability to visualize is lacking whereas some can at least manage it. For these students using push hands to learn about the form is an alternative way to understand the form.

In reality both approaches complement each other. However, the form should be the proper way to approach push hands i.e. putting the horse before the cart and not put the cart before the horse.

Form training can impart the following benefits :-

1) True mindfulness – the word “mindfulness” seems to be the latest buzzword. However, true mindfulness is when your mind can remain focused when under pressure and not just when you are spaced out doing your own thing sans pressure

2) Letting the self, excess strength and meaningless resistance go – to find the true Tai Chi within us we have to learn to remove unnecessary mental and physical obstructions. Learning a form with active feedback by checking our posture, structure and mental state helps us to achieve this. This is where the role of a knowing teacher comes in to help you to see and feel it through your body 

3) Cultivate postures and movements that bring health benefits; that also contribute to enhancing our ability to apply combat techniques properly and with power

Different teachers have different ways to teach the art. Some like to leave students to their own devices, some like to demonstrate, some like to explain and some use a combination of the latter two approaches. I believe that the best learning is achieved by the following :-

1) Seeing

2) Explaining

3) Doing

4) Feeling

5) Testing

6) Feedback

Each of the six complements the other. Sometimes the student can’t quite see what is happening so an explanation is in order. But at times the explanation is above the comprehension of the student so he then has to try doing it, feeling it and testing it to see how he is understanding the movement. The feedback can help him to move towards mastering the movement.

I’ve set up a MasterTaiChiToday workspace on Slack to record down the information, set up private channels so that students who have their training recorded can view their lessons and for the moment a general area for those who are interested to hang out and talk shop.

The Secret

If there is a secret in Tai Chi it is knowing how to liberate the self by having the right mental model.

I’ve been trying to get students to stop using too much strength when doing push hands. If they do so then they cannot apply techniques properly because the proper usage of techniques call for the right amount of strength. Too little and you can’t get the desired leverage; too much and you end up resisting yourself.

Giving up the use of excessive strength is not simply a matter of relaxing. Everyone knows this but still everyone uses too much strength. Obviously, asking students to relax will not cut it. So what is the solution?

The solution is easier than thought. Have the right mental model to begin with. Then get into it and practice. And voila! Instant result. 

Yes, instant result. Not after an hour of practice but immediately. As soon as the model is planted into the mind, just follow and do it. I didn’t make a “before” video but here is the “after” video :-

I tried the model with another student who also typically uses too much strength. It worked just as well. 

This is why Tai Chi need not be a skill we acquire. Instead, it is a skill that is already in us, that we just need to find the right key to unlock it.