A common obstacle facing Tai Chi students is differentiating intent from body movement.
When most students perform the form their intent is not clearly delineated from their physical action. This leads to the inability to use intent over reliance on strength alone.
Why is it difficult to separate intent from movement?
Reading The Body Builders : Inside the Science of the Engineered Human has given me the answer. When you think of doing something the neurons in the processing areas of the motor cortex fires and triggers the desired movement.
However, these neurons fire so fast that for most of us it is difficult to detect that length of time between the neurons firing and the corresponding limb moving. The time between neurons firing and movement beginning is but milliseconds so you can imagine how short a time this is.
Given this is the case how then can Tai Chi players train intent?
This is where the specialized intent training of Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s Yang style Tai Chi comes in. The conceptual models for training intent allows us to experience a time lag, at least long enough to feel when intent begins and when movement triggered by intent comes in.
In this way we can truly separate mind and body. Incidentally, this fulfils the principle of using intent rather than strength and explains clearly why Tai Chi is boxing of the mind.
It would be interesting to one day use science to study this neglected aspect of Tai Chi. Who knows what we may discover that can not only improve our Tai Chi skills but be applicable to other fields such as medicine.