Books: 101 Reflections on Tai Chi Cuan: Book

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#70. “It takes strength to overcome structure, and that is where technique plays a part. If you set your body structure correctly, you will force your opponent to use strength against you. It is this use of strength that allows the Tai Chi philosophy and techniques to best be expressed: the hard is overcome by the soft, the impatient by the patient, the stiff by the flexible, the unyielding by the yielding. Structural relaxation is a term I have made up to explain the idea of placing the body in proper alignment, so that the underlying structure (bones, connective tissue, muscles) will deal effectively with most of the stresses placed upon it. For example, proper postural alignment allows complete relaxation. If one leans in one direction or another, gravity will act upon the body in a negative way, causing the muscles to devote some of their energy to just maintaining balance. When playing push hands, if the structure is placed correctly, the partner’s force will automatically be transferred to my root, actually making me more stable. This will either cause my partner to use more strength, making him clumsy, or he will start to move around trying to find an opening, which will make him vulnerable to counterattack from my strong, rooted structure. If I didn’t have structural relaxation and alignment from the beginning, it would probably be me that would be fighting to remain in balance, and my partner would not have to commit his strength to his attack.”

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