Sunday, March 09, 2014

Force as a Concept in Taiji

The word force (劲) is often used in taiji, such as when we talk about the eight forces of taiji such as peng (棚) and cai (采). This Chinese character for the concept of force in taiji is used to differentiate it from what we understand as force in our normal sense of the word. But what we need to understand is that the concept of force in taiji is not what we normally understand by the word force. We understand force as something physical that is used to move an object. That is not what the word "force" in taiji means. It is a concept used to understand the physical manifestation of a state of mind in taiji.

The biggest clue to us that the concept of "force" in taiji does not refer to physical force comes from the phrase 用意不用力, which means to use mental intention, not physical force. This is what taiji is about: using the mind. Our actions are actually the physical manifestation of what our mind is thinking about. The mind leads and the body follows. So in taiji, the focus is not on the physical but on the mental state of the mind. The use of the word "force" is to explain a concept, something that starts in the mind but comes to manifest itself in the physical.

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