Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 401

Knowledgable Strength

This is a term I have just come up with to describe how the body is used in Tai Chi. And how do we arrive at “Knowledgable strength”? Experience through practice. And how do we gain that experience in Tai Chi? Tui Shou – (Push Hands, Sensing Hands) exercises with a partner. 

We seek to learn how to use the least energy to do the most work. For instance, there is a large box which you have to move out of the way, and you don’t remember what’s in it. You test how heavy it is by lifting it a small amount. You discover it is empty so you just bend over and use your arms to lift and carry.

But if you find it is quite heavy, you squat down, grab the box, and use your legs to lift it. “Knowledgable strength. One way I know a person can injure his or her self is by thinking the box will be empty, when it isn’t, and just bending over to pick it up, putting a lot of stresss on the low back.

If your partner is using two palms to push your chest, you bring your two arms up inside partner’s arms, and using just the right amount of energy, you join, stick, lead or follow, neutralizing, then return the energy. This move is called “Withdraw and Push”. If you use too much energy when coming up inside partner’s arms, you stand a good chance of knocking his arms to the side and he is then free to change course. Too little, and he can just overcome your defense. “Knowledgable strength”.

So how to learn this skill is practice. This requires being in contact with a partner. And that is not easy nowadays with all the viruses. We have to be very careful. Being out of doors helps. Don’t expose others if you feel out of sorts. Enjoy yourself and help others, not by talking but by doing. Good luck.