Saturday, August 04, 2007

Stiff Arms or Not

I asked my teacher how is it that the arms can be relaxed, yet the force generated by the legs can manifest itself at the arms and actually flip an opponent away. I would think that in order to transfer the force from the legs to the arm, the arm and torso should be a whole unit, and by shifting the weight and using the kua to turn the waist, the whole torso and arm would turn with the force generated by the legs.

But this means that the arm is stiff. Which obviously is wrong. But if we relax the arm, then when the torso turns, and the arm does not, the force doesn't get to the arms...

I think the answer could be that the arms are relaxed. The force generated at the legs are not used to forcibly flip an opponent away. Rather, listen to the direction of his force, and use the force generated in your legs to gently shift his force in the direction that you want.


taijiquestion said...

My amateur advice: one way to trick your body into relaxing is to tire yourself out first. Often we hear "don't do taiji if you're tired". But in trying to advance in the moving/meditational arts, it can be useful to experiment when you don't have enough energy left to BE stiff.

The first time I ever felt "sung" very relaxed and rooted, was after I had been doing some heavy outdoor work for several hours with a community group. I finally took a break and stood on uneven ground, assuming a bow stance. Bam! Suddenly I felt very taiji, very sung. This happened when I was very tired physically.

If your arms were broken, what would your taiji be like? maybe improved, one great teacher suggested. :)

Not suggesting you try push hands when you're tired. But maybe by yourself, try doing a lot of push-ups until your arms are rubbery; then see how your form work feels. Might be interesting.

taijiquestion said...

Sorry Teck, I misspoke when I said push-ups, that's no good to mix with taiji generally speaking. For pre-exhaustion training in this case, the thing to do would be to simply hold a pushup POSITION: up, down, or in-between, whatever seems right. Like pushup zhan zhuang. For a certain amount of time; without pumping up and down.

Then try some taiji work when your arms too tired to put strength into them. Just focus on the hands movement and let the arms disappear.

(I haven't had push-hands training myself yet, but I've experienced what a senior student can do to me when I'm stiff!)

Teck said...

I would tend to think that the key is not to be pre-exhausted before starting practice. After all, it is more important to be able to relax even when you have the strength. It is important to learn how to control one's strength so that he can continue to relax in all circumstances, and not just when he is tired.