I love it when online people contact me with new information, clarifications, or corrections. Back in the late 1980’s, I met a remarkable Tai Chi instructor by the name of Gao Fu. If you don’t know who she is (she passed a few years ago) do a search. So gifted, and amazingly sweet, and curious. She was visiting Seattle from Beijing and received a very warm welcome. She ended up moving there. She was part of our Labor Day Retreat for 9 years. Her very first English words to me were “Teach me”. Always open to learning, even in her 80’s.
In any case, she was the one who introduced me to the concept of Inner Balance and the word that I understood to be Duai La. I admit that I am not a student of Chinese language, only using words that have been said to me. Master Choy was from Canton (now Guangzhou) in the south of China, while Gao Fu was from Beijing in the north. Their vocabulary and pronunciations were quite different. I never heard Master Choy talk about Duai La or Inner Balance. His approach was – just be natural. After practicing Tai Chi for many years, one would naturally achieve this state of Inner Balance, though I often use it, and teach it to beginners as a meditative practice.
I got interested in this concept. It is a way to make each and every part of each and every movement balanced. I go into this in detail on the video I produced, entitled “Inner Balance”. It is offered at YouTube: https://youtu.be/8hLvlQrXI6U. This is the first of a 7 part video. I recommend watching them all – about an hour.
This is where the online student comes in. Bill lives in New York with his wife who is from China. He was watching one of the videos and heard me say Duai La and couldn’t figure out what the real meaning was. He and his wife finally figured it out.
D’s and T’s are fairly interchangeable in translating Chinese to English. Is it Daoism or Taoism?
No matter, as they sound pretty much the same, unless one is writing an article and one wants to be accurate. What Bill and his wife figured out was I was saying “Tui La”. Wow, that explains it.
Tui means push as in Tui Shou (push hands). La means pull as in La chi (pulling chi). So one can easily find the meaning of balance in the concept of Yin and Yang expressed as pulling and pushing. Even if I am pushing, there is a pulling back into center so as not to push one’s self off balance. Try lifting something heavy. Notice how you must squat down and then push down with the legs to lift. If one were to stand straight legged and bent over and tried to lift just with the arms, it wouldn’t work very well. Good way to hurt yourself.
When one wants to push a heavy object, one would use bow and sit stance, and squatting on the rear leg, gathering energy into the rear Kua, use a pushing backward and down with the rear leg. The rear leg pushing backward causes the energy of the upper body to push forward. If one stood with feet parallel and tried to push forward with the arms, it wouldn’t be very effective.
And the same for pulling. If you want to pull, use bow and sit, weight on forward foot, and then push down with the front leg. The rear leg will gather so you can stop when you want.
All these energetics happen naturally most all of the time, yet we can increase our effectiveness and enjoyment with more awareness of what we are actually doing. And keep in mind that Push is considered Yang and Pull is considered Yin. The interplay of Yin and Yang are one of the guiding principles of Tai Chi Chuan. Yin is bringing or allowing energy to move towards the body and Yang is moving something away from the body. There are so many small Tui La’s in every movement. Have fun discovering them for your self. It will certainly improve your performance and enjoyment.