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Students learn how to deliver their body weight into the attacker as they step.
This skill is imperative.
Prior to learning this skill, the tendency was to be stationary when striking.
Central equilibrium is one of the 5 steps. But it is not the best one in terms of delivering body weight.
Standing still and striking has severe limitations.
It is much better to be striking the assailant as you are stepping and yielding, rather than when you have stopped.
If you think about everyday walking and the range of your stride, you will probably find that the steps are not that big.
Yet, when you look at martial arts stances, the steps are enormous compared to ordinary stepping.
The shortcoming in this difference is obvious.
Ordinary stepping offers freedom of movement.
The legs are loose and free, the joints mobile, and the habit is deeply ingrained.
Longer, deeper steps result in a loss of joint flexibility. The skeleton is put under mild duress.
If you make easy, natural steps, you can transmit body weight and power more quickly.
Given that taijiquan is a defensive art, there is no need to step far.
The opponent will come to you.
The first 22 movements of the form involve virtually no movement in terms of stepping.
All the action takes place in a small area.
Looking at taijiquan pictures will encourage you to adopt exotic postures. But remember that most practitioners are not training self defence.
They are simply stretching.
Long, deep stances are a good stretch if your knee joints are up to it, but they are martially useless.
The 70/30 stance work will encourage you to listen to what your own body wants to do.
Travelling will become much easier and natural.
Relaxing the legs
People often have tense legs.
Picture yourself walking through a heavy fall of leaves. The legs should feel loose and floppy.
This is part of pendulum step, but less obvious than the beginners understanding.
When stepping, it is important not to leave your rear leg behind.
The front foot steps, and the rear follows.
Leaving a leg behind will only lengthen your stance and weaken it.
Similarly, you should not straighten the rear leg and use it as a brace.
Being balanced when stepping is essential.
You need to be like a cat - capable of freezing mid-step and holding the position.
This skill is part of the post and is called 'balance-point'.
The aim with travelling is to use your body weight more effectively by combining stepping with shifting the weight.
You can deliver significantly more power when you do this.
It is Newton's second law: force = mass x acceleration.
Unite upper & lower
Neigong makes it possible to have a natural seeming stance and still have power. A stance of no stance.
The power is generated by internal movement, not by an exaggerated outward framework.
When it comes to jing, an exaggerated structure is an impediment because joint movement is restricted.
The attainment of the Tao is
a process. It is doing a thing not for the sake of doing it; it is doing a
thing because the doing releases us from certain constraints of the limited
self: narcissism, self-centredness, preoccupation with the fears and worries
and doubts that diminish us in daily life.
The Tao draws us into the domain of the potential self: self-realisation, self-cultivation, and self-perfection.
18 April 1995
Last updated 29 September 2019