Greetings. This tip is a bit technical, but I think it will be helpful for your awareness of how and why you step in Tai Chi. Tomorrow I’ll lighten up a bit.
Basic Movement Process
Back to stepping and moving. Let’s say the partner or opponent is in front of you. You are in a standing position. He or she directs energy towards your center, which in this case is a right fist coming towards you. The first thing you do is set your body in motion to get out of the direct line of the incoming energy. At the same time you outreach, which generally means you bring your arm up to join with this energy with the back of the wrist or forearm.This phase I call “ready”.
I then join with this force, neutralizing it to the side so it is moving past my body, in this case to the right. At some point, I then turn my arm over into a grab, and step to the side of the partner, while still keeping my weight on the back foot, and gathered into the right Kua. This phase is called “aim”. I am ready to release. I then shift the weight onto the forward foot, releasing the stored kua energy into the partner. This is “fire”.
All movements follow this three phase sequence. Energy is coming towards you, you join and neutralize, and follow with releasing energy back into the source. If we look at the stepping process , let’s assume the partner is directly in front. As he punches in, for instance, with his right hand, you first shift a bit to the left to start to evade this punch, and at the same time you bring up the your right arm to outreach, join, and start to understand the nature of the attack.
You then start to follow and lead this to the side, neutralizing it. As we do that, we rotate out the right foot so it ends up at a 45 degree angle to the partner. After pivoting out this right foot, we shift the weight onto the right leg, freeing up the left leg to block, kick, or step. Remember that anytime you step, you could kick.
For this movement, Ward Off Left, we step forward with the left leg, touching down the left heel, being careful not to narrow the stance. All of this is the Aim phase. We are getting ready to release, which we do by shifting the weight onto the left leg.
So the stepping sequence is the same. On gather, one’s weight is on the soon to be rear foot. On control, one is stepping. On release, one shifts. Examine your form is see if this is true for you.