There are two kinds of movement in tai chi. The first kind of movement is the external. Beginning students tend to move from their hands and feet. The students watch the teacher and try to mimic the movement. Their minds are engaged in the external movements happening at the edge of their space. The students lack an awareness of center, so the movements are all external and full of effort. The students think that this is tai chi.
The second kind of movement is from the center. If the students work hard, practice, study, and listen to their teacher, they may some day become experts. Experts move from the center. Force comes from the ground and spirals up the legs and is manifested as the body moves from the dan tien. The hands no longer lead the movement. They express, or amplify, the movement that began at the center.
It is not easy to do, but it is important to make the transition from externally generated movements to movements generated at the center. When we move from the center, we use much less energy to deliver more power, or force. It almost feels like there is a release of power instead of the use of energy. There is less tension and more song, or relax and loosen.
With more and more practice, we can start to develop the ability where the movement can be generated from anywhere, freely and instinctively. The responsiveness to external forces becomes almost unbelievable to beginners. When I get close to this feeling, I'll let you know.
What do you think? Where are you in your development? Leave a comment.
© 2012 Eric Borreson