Page 8 - The Key to Practicing Taijiquan's Skill & Form
Crouching tiger, hidden dragon is not merely the title of the recent blockbuster movie. This expression actually is borrowed from the Chinese language. In Chinese it refers to coming across a heretofore, unknown, 'hidden' individual of high skill; hidden, crouching, ready to pounce on the over-confident, innocent. In one sense, the late Li YaXuan could be considered to be a crouching tiger, hidden dragon in the west. This is because he is so unknown here. In China, however, Teacher Li's work and words are far from hidden. In fact, he was well known and widely respected in China prior to his death in 1976. His story and advice merit careful reading. The Yang's divided their teaching into three basic phases: learning the external, learning the internal, and finally training the mind. Teacher Li hits all three in his discussions and even touches very briefly on the last, the most advanced training methodology.
Original taiji learners at the source often use the term "frame" for what most westerners call the "form" or "set". Considering construction, be it a house or building a skill, the term is both more precise and descriptive, therefore, this use is most appropriate. This term is used frequently.
Secondly, when these people hit others, they obviously hope the other feels great pain. In addition, these people often want their muscles large enough and strong enough to absorb the pain of being hit by others. The question here is during the attack, if the timing is not correct, they will use a lot of strength but will hit empty space. If you make a defensive gesture at the incorrect time, this only shows weakness to others. This results in much more harm. So then, what is the use of having large, strong muscles? Further, when you are attacked, you must be very quick. You must move with suddenness. In combat there is not enough time to think of producing strength in your muscles. Finally, when others attack the most vulnerable parts of your body, strong muscles are of no use for defense or to respond.
Taijiquan is a skill with shape and without shape. Although it has shape when an opponent attacks you, your whole body must be very reserved and display nearly nothing in there. This will make the opponent catch an empty shadow so to speak and, thus, not harm you. If the enemy thinks you are empty and, on the other hand, if you show your emptiness but can suddenly attack like thunder, thunder so quick and strong that people must duck and cover their ears, so as to make them totally scared, scared for their life, then this is enticing into emptiness. Taijiquan is a skill based on unpredictable opportunity. If the other thinks you cannot attack, you should just move your mind suddenly to attack. If others think you will come then you should transform as if you have nothing to attack. This is the so-called "being suddenly visible; suddenly invisible".
The practice frame was designed to cultivate your mind and qi. Push-hands is done to acquire listening energy. Scatter-hands is practiced to acquire skill of hand, eyes, body, and the step method. So, this boxing practices heart, physical essence, qi, and spirit. When you practice the skill, your qi must be sinking. Do not intentionally sink it, that is, do not think of sinking the qi. Rather, use true, fundamental intention to infuse the qi during your breathing.
Emptiness is so empty it's as if it is solid. Being solid is so solid it's as if it is empty. There is something there but it's as if there is nothing there. Relax, let go, softness--use these to produce the empty and flexible qi. This will enhance your perspicacity. Place your mind and body in the right place to establish the fundamental source. With this you can show gesture and seriousness. If your body and mind are not correct, your gesture will show shallowness and be overly light, floating. These qualities too easily tempt bullies.