Sunday, April 05, 2009

Relax, Not Limp

My teacher's hand feels soft during pushing hands not because there is no strength (i.e. the hand is not limp) but because he is able to relax his whole body, especially his kua. So when a force is applied on the hand, because the kua is relaxed, it is able to move and thus absorb the force, which makes it seems as if the hand is soft (retreating when pushed) when actually, it is not the hand that retreats, but the body as a whole (with the joints moving in varying amounts, not to say that they are rigid).

The common misunderstanding when we talk about being relaxed is that we try to be soft like cotton (that's how my teacher's hand feels like) by not using strength. We take the strength out of our arms, and our hands become limp. And then when a force comes, our hands yield to the force, yet we are unable to do anything about the force. Instead, the force continues to come in, and we end up being pushed.

Instead, to achieve the feel of cotton, we should be relaxing our joints, such that when a force comes in, our joints, moving in varying amounts, absorbs the force, and by then turning the kua, we are able to change the direction of the force, turning it away from us. It still feels like yielding to the force, yet it is not a complete yielding because we are not opening the gates for the enemy to rush in. Instead, we are drawing the enemy (aka force) towards where we want it to go (like luring an enemy into a trap).

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