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About Intent

One day, a new student asked me; "Why is Tai Chi Chuan called an internal art? Is it
because the movements are execute slowly so one calls it internal? Yet, there are
many solo forms that one can execute the movements in different speed. How do
you differentiate Tai Chi Chuan from other Chinese martial art?" My reply to the
questions was simply that Tai Chi Chuan's movements are control by the Intent, an
internal component that is not visible and it is the key to Tai Chi Chuan's success.

The role of Intent in Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan practitioners often emphasize the importance of using the Intent in
training. The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say" Every movement based on the intent.",
"When the intent and qi come, the bone and flesh are secondary.", "First on the mind,
later, on the body.", "First, the intent moves, later, the power follows.", "All of them
are based on the intent, it is not based on the external movement.", "When the qi is
not there yet, the intent already there.", "When practice the solo form and push hand
exercises, one should pay attention to the intent." The quotations clearly defined the
priority and relationships among the Intent, Qi and Body. In every Tai Chi Chuan's
Solo Form movement, it is initiated by the Intent, continue with the qi and end with
the body movement. Does not matter it is the qi circulation or body movement, it
directs by the Intent. In the Intent's creativity, qi circulation and body movement, they
are the disciplines that Tai Chi Chuan incorporates the Intent to work on the three
subject of Intent, Qi and Body. It bases on the ancient chinese philosophy which said
that the body is the basic matter for life. Mind is the life's controller. Qi is the life's
communicator. The objective of the qi's function is to have the body and mind joint
together. A visible body is considering alive because of the mind. The Intent
manages the body and base on the function of the qi. The three components joint
together is the key in Tai Chi Chuan training.

The emphasis on Intent by Tai Chi Chuan practitioners involves two areas. It is the
initiator to activate the physiologic organ functions. Intent or Intent's power is a
special kind of conscious behavior of the brain which carries a coded message to
function inside the body as well as outside the body. In other words, Intent controls
all physiologic functions.

The nature of Intent

If the Intent is so important in Tai Chi Chuan training, it is necessary for one to fully
understand and define what is Intent. There are two approaches to understand it.
The Intent guides the body movement and the Intent guides the qi circulation.

a. The Intent guides the body movement

When the Intent moves, the body follows. In the situation when the Intent guides the
body movement. This means all movements are controlled by the Intent. Intent's
movement means creativity. The "body follows" means the body is moving according
to the Intent's instruction. In Tai Chi Chuan training, it demands all movements are
initiating from the Intent and then follow with the body movement. Therefore, the
body movement is the expression of Intent's creativity outward. If one is able to follow
this expectation throughout the Tai Chi Chuan training, one's skill will progress

b. The Intent guides the qi circulation
When the Intent moves, the qi circulates. In the situation when the Intent guides the
qi to circulate. This mean all qi circulations are following the Intent's instruction. Intent
movement means Intent creativity. Qi circulation means the qi circulates inside the
body follows the Intent's instruction. Intent creativity and qi circulation are internal.
How can one interpret and understand? It is often said that to find out what is inside,
one has to begin from outside. What is internal, will expressed outward. Although the
Intent creativity and qi circulation are intangible, the posture and movement a
practitioner demonstrates in Tai Chi Chuan, is an expression of Intent creativity and
qi circulation outward. From observing the change in a movement, one can tell the
Intent creativity and qi circulation condition. The highest form of Tai Chi Chuan
training is to have the Intent creativity and qi circulation inside the body combined
with physical movement outside the body. Therefore, if there is no movement inside
the body, there should be no movement from outside the body. When there is
movement, the components from outside and inside the body move together in unity.

Although Intent is an important factor to determine the outcome of Tai Chi Chuan
skill, it is abstract and difficult to understand. However, it has the following meanings
and characteristics:

a. It means attention.
b. It has a meaning similar to qi. It is a form of energy and power.
c. It is a form of thinking and imagination behavior.
d. It has many levels. A student emphasizes the intent differently according to his
e. It is repeatable. At each time, the meaning and fulfillment are different.
f. It can be understood from observing physical movement, feeling and
sensation. A student may not understand at the beginning. After many
practices, the understanding becomes better.
g. For it is a substance of abstract and intangible, it can be interpreted into many
meanings according to one's experience. Therefore, it does not have any set
priority and order.
h. It is a state of mental condition.
i. It is a mental activity and creativity.
j. It is an objective and goal.
k. Although it has many meanings, each meaning contribute to fulfill a complete
whole. A unity.

Intent and creativity

To increase the Intent creativity, one must cultivate it daily and incorporate it
throughout the Tai Chi Chuan training. This is included from practical experiences as
well as daily activity.

From psychological experiment, we understand that Intent has a very close

association with one's emotion and experience. Whenever we have good and
positive experience, the emotion is positive and the Intent creativity unrestricted.
Otherwise, the emotion is negative and the Intent creativity is limited. Therefore, it is
necessary to have good experience and positive emotion which can be generated
and supported from a tranquil environment. A tranquil serenity is a condition better

for one to concentrate, focus and the creativity to flow and coherent. Therefore, it has
a miraculous result.

Intent and Tai Chi Chuan

From a martial art perspective, Intent is emphasizing on the technique, strategy and
most importantly, on the opponent's weak area.

Tai Chi Chuan is a relaxed, soft, internal and external activity. The movement is
stable, circular, continue and the body should be upright. Based on these principles,
Tai Chi Chuan movement is confining to a set of rules. When one is engaging in Tai
Chi Chuan training, one is consciously controlling the body to function under these
rules. How does one incorporate the Intent into Tai Chi Chuan training? The following
are some of the common practice in Tai Chi Chuan:

When one is practicing the Tai Chi Chuan's solo form, one should assume involving
with an opponent in an offensive and defensive movement. It is only when the Intent
is true so the power is truly will get to the target and the movement is effective. One
develops confidence in each movement by understanding the application and
variations. Believe in oneself during confrontation so technique can by apply freely
without any hesitation and restriction. This is what the Tai Chi Chuan Classic said
"When the qi is not there, the intent is already there." When people said "confidence
is half of success". It already included the power of Intent.

One should understand each movement's mechanics and application. Understanding

the power and variation involved in each technique. Where and when to deliver the
power. This is what the Tai Chi Chuan Classic referring to "One should pay attention
to each movement." One should pay closer attention to each movement so the power
gets to the target. One should clearly understand the power in each movement.
Understanding the fist, palm or fingers strike in a movement? How to move the
fingers to correctly apply the seize technique to easily control the opponent?

In any particular posture, the head should have the Intent of supporting an object
upward. The body has sinking. The hands have pushing forward power. The arms
move to the sides. The toes are pointing forward. The knees bent like a nutcracker.
Buttock tuck in. The hip has roundness like a "U" shape.

The Tai Chi Chuan Classic said that one should walk like a cat. In practice, one can
imagine the stepping in advance or retreat, and empty or full, should be very quiet,
spontaneous and light. It is stable and continues like a running water.

The Tai Chi Chuan Classic said that mobilizing the jing is like pulling silk from a
cocoon. In practice, one can imagine the movement is gentle, circular, smooth, even
and continue like pulling silk. Otherwise, the silk thread will break.

Intent is a very important step in Tai Chi Chuan training. If one can incorporate it in
daily practice as described above, one will definitely develope the Tai Chi Chuan skill
and power quickly. The body is nimble and every part of the body is a weapon. It is
an expression of the Intent, Qi and Body united.

Combat Tai Chi Chuan

The martial art of Tai Chi Chuan follows Tai Chi philosophy. Everything that relates to
Tai Chi Chuan has Yin and Yang components -- from the philosophy, the physical
movement, the training to the functions of the art.

Many people practice Tai Chi Chuan today as a health exercise but it is as well a
very effective internal martial art. Tai Chi Chuan, with its soft and slow movements,
may be difficult to accept as a fighting system for some people, but that's what it is,
that's what it has been for many generations.

In traditional martial art training, the emphasis of Tai Chi Chuan is more on the
preparation and development of internal power than the individual technique as in
most external martial art styles. There is hardly training in specific applications. This
is why it is difficult for a beginner to understand and see the technical skill in Tai Chi
Chuan. Unless one is trained under a knowledgeable teacher, a practitioner can
spend decade or more and still not be sure how to correctly apply each movement in

A philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan combat is that if you say there is technique, there is
none. If you say that there is not, the technique is everywhere. This is like the water
supporting the boat: the boat is always on top of the water although the boat has
done nothing. In martial art training, it is essential for the practitioner to prepare his or
her physical condition for combat. In Tai Chi Chuan, the practitioner does not
rehearse for the combat itself which is an unpredictable situation. The training is not
focused on the application of each individual movement but on developing oneself
totally so that the body becomes nimble and flexible, the feet mobile, the hands are
fast, and there is correct timing in execution. These are the essential ingredients in

With a unique training style, we practice Tai Chi Chuan's Solo Form with the following
three principles in mind:

1. Softness Controls Hardness

The reason Tai Chi Chuan favors soft over hard is partly based on the principle of
soft overcoming hard as described by Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching". The other reason is
to prevent the practitioner from performing a head-on collision with the opponent.
The belief that in combat hard and powerful are always victorious is a fallacy. It is
common in confrontation that both parties apply and mobilize power to try to
overcome each other: The winner is usually the stronger. In some cases, both
protagonists lose when both have equal power and skill. Tai Chi Chuan's emphasis
on the principle of soft overcoming hard tries to avoid this situation.
There is a belief that the principle of softness overcoming hardness means
avoidance. This is not true, because nobody who is on the defensive all the time
comes out victorious. Tai Chi Chuan's emphasis on soft and hard interaction is based
on soft as in yielding or deflection and hard as in attacking, and the two components

always go together.

a. Yielding and striking at the same time

Tai Chi Chuan's emphasis on the technique of yielding and attacking at the same
time means there should be defensive and offensive intention in each movement so
that the counterstrike will be quicker and will seize the opponent's weak area before
he can recover. This combination involves every part of the body; thus one must train
the whole body to be sensitive, nimble and flexible. This is different from most martial
arts styles where offensive and defensive techniques occur separately.

b. Combination strikes
To be able to strike continuously is something all practitioners would like to do. This
does not give the opponent a chance to rest and recover. In many styles of martial
arts, combination strikes are generally pre-arranged exercises to improve one's
physical endurance and confrontation experiences. In Tai Chi Chuan training, one
sees this combination as one circle. Half the circle is for offense and half for defense.
The Tai Chi Chuan Classics refer to this as "The retreating circle is easy but the
advancing circle is difficult."

How to execute the circle completely in a combat situation? It is believed that one
should "give up oneself" - meaning a state of egolessness -- and follow the opponent.
To be able to follow the opponent, one has to be able to stick to the opponent's
movement. This means one is sticking to the opponent whenever there is a chance
to be in contact with the opponent's body. Sticking to the opponent does not mean
simply to stick to the opponent but to get a superior position as the result of this
execution. What is the skill to get us to this superior position? How quickly do you
respond? What is the correct amount of power? Which part of the body to stick?
These are the experiences one will gain from practice.

Following the opponent's technique involves the whole body. Its movements will
result in the practitioner gaining a superior position based on the opponent's strike
and combat situation. Generally, it requires the feet to move in coordination with the
upper body. When one is able to do this, no matter what the situation, one is able to
maintain balance and find the opportunity to be on the superior position to strike. The
superior position is defined as one in an active role over the opponent's passive role.
Inferior position is when one is in a passive role and the situation is controlled by the
opponent. Based on the information obtained from applying the stick and follow
techniques, one can mobilize the body to counter the opponent's strike. Therefore,
this is one of the reasons why a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner is able to move so fast or
has such a quick reflex. In Push Hand exercises, we train the skills of listening,
forgetting oneself and following the opponent, etc. It is not a competition sport as
promoted in today's tournament.

c. No empty strike
With its emphasis on Yin and Yang balance, Tai Chi Chuan's movements are soft,
relaxed and circular. This means that all movements have both the soft component
power and the hard component power. The dynamics shift to either side based on
the opponent's strike. When the opponent strikes, the soft component makes the
opponent lose balance and the hard component strikes back. When the movement is
circular, it does not overextend; thus, the body is balanced and is able to issue power

to strike or to get a superior position. This is why in Solo Form practice, all the
movements are circular. When one is balanced, one is able to move the feet to get a
superior position and to avoid falling into an inferior position.

2. Tranquility Controls Action

Although the principle of soft component for yielding and hard component for
attacking is sound, it will only work when the practitioner has good timing and correct
execution. This requires good skill, calmness, and a nimble body. If one is not calm,
one is not able to let the opponent come in until the last minute. If the body is not
nimble, one cannot react suddenly without hurting the body. If the skill is not good,
one cannot control the opponent quickly. Tai Chi Chuan does not believe in taking
the initiative but if the situation requires, one will make it happen.

The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say, "Retreating circle is easy to do, the advancing circle
is difficult." Retreating circle refers to defensive movement and advancing circle
refers to offensive movement. The two components always go together. Which one
to use is determined by the opponent's strike. When the practitioner takes the
inactive position, there are some advantages over the opponent:

a. The practitioner must have confidence and calm to anticipate the opponent's
strike. The practitioner has the psychological advantage.
b. The practitioner will understand the strike and power from the opponent's. It is
an advantage to find the opponent's weak areas.
c. The practitioner will save energy and not get tired easily. This is an advantage
in physical endurance.
d. The opponent does not know what the practitioner will do. This has the
advantage of confusing the opponent.
e. Invite the opponent to strike and react based on the strike. An advantage is to
hide the weak area from the opponent.
f. When one is unselfish, this has the advantage in self-control and
temperament. For one to be able to perform this principle correctly, a
practitioner must be able to perform the following concepts:

A. Give up oneself and follow the opponent

It is common in the martial art community that a stronger person who can execute a
technique quickly has better chance to win. When the opponent strikes, one should
instinctively mobilize the power to confront and defend against the strike. This inborn
reaction is possessed by everyone, but martial art practitioners often train their
bodies so that the reaction or reflex will be accurate, powerful, speedy, and effective.
Some practitioners even train their arms and body to develop a body armor to resist
a powerful strike. Unfortunately, many practitioners physically suffer a great deal in
training but the outcome is still determined by how powerful the strike and how fast
one can apply the technique. This concept is centered on the practitioner himself.
Tai Chi Chuan is an outgrowth of Taoist philosophy that says everything is based on
nature. In order to be natural, the concentration must shift from oneself to the
opponent. In order to be able to follow, the practitioner has to give up on initiation and
concern for the outcome and forget himself so that all the strikes will be based on the
opponent's movements. When one gives up on oneself, it means forgetting oneself
and the ego and being unselfish. When one forgets oneself and is unselfish, the

temperament improves and there is no pressure. When there is no pressure, the
body is relax and natural. When the body is relaxed and natural, the body is nimble,
mobile and flexible. These are some of the ingredients to a powerful strike.
When one is unselfish, all the reactions will have the following five characteristics:

a. One is able to follow the opponent's strike, left, right, up and down, without any
break. Therefore, all reactions are very quick.
b. There will be no head-on collision. Apply soft component to listen, yield to the
opponent's strike, power and reaction. Apply hard component to strike.
c. One will let the opponent initiate the strike.
d. One will disguise the movement as weakness for the opponent to come in.
e. One will apply a technique only to control the opponent without injury or harm.

B. Tai Chi Chuan is a short-range combat art

When it strikes, there is often a combination of strikes that involves the whole body.
Here are some of the common parts of the body to apply: head, shoulders, elbows,
hands, wrist, hip, knee, foot, chest, back, buttocks. Therefore, the whole body must
be trained so that it is flexible enough to mobilize any part of the body that is
necessary to execute a powerful strike. The lower portion of the body must be trained
to be mobile so that the feet will be able to step into a superior position to
compensate for the strike.

3. Apply the insubstantial to overcome the substantial

Tai Chi Chuan often applies a small amount of power to control the opponent. This is
often referred to as four ounces overcome 1000 pound: Here are two of the common
techniques that practitioners often use:

A. Small amount to control the large amount

This is the work of physical science. People, like everything else, are affected by
gravity. When the opponent's balance is unstable, the application of a small amount
of power will cause him to fall. Tai Chi Chuan practitioners often apply this kind of
technique to cause the opponent to get off-balanced. This happens by re-directing
the opponent's power and counter striking in between the opponent's first and the
second strike. This technique is commonly referred to as "four ounces overcome a
thousand pound." This task is so easy that people considered it as an insubstantial
action because the performer only applied a very small amount of power to make it

B. Leverage or borrowing
This is a very common technique. Borrowing power generally comes from two
sources: the opponent's strike and the ground. It has a powerful result because it is
the combination of the opponent's power, the practitioner's and the power coming
from the ground. One can see this as a small push by the experienced Tai Chi Chuan
practitioner and the opponent bounces away as a result. A muscle contraction alone
can not produce this kind of power. For this technique to work, one must practice
body integration regularly in the solo Form so that the body can mobilize all the
power outward in a flash.

Based on the principles and techniques described above, Tai Chi Chuan practitioners
often apply the following techniques and the famous eight hand techniques as ward
off, roll back, press, push, pull down, split, elbow and shoulder strikes in a combat

a. Grappling. Grappling in Tai Chi Chuan is different from other styles. It is

applied to control the opponent's power. However, this is not like joint lock or
disabling or injuring someone's ligament or tendons.
b. Pouncing. Applying the whole body forward to destroy the opponent's balance.
When the opponent is off-balance, he will not be able to react. A powerful
pouncing technique can cause the opponent to fall down and injuring himself.
c. Wrestling. Apply the weight directly or in leverage onto the opponent to cause
imbalance and the opponent will fall down. This technique is also known as a
"take down."
d. Striking. Apply strong and powerful body part to hit the opponent's weak area.
e. Shocking. Apply power to cause the opponent to move the whole body
suddenly. It is so sudden that the opponent is not quick enough to react
causing his own body to collapse, injuring himself internally. This is similar to a
speeding car suddenly stopping, causing the passenger internal injury.
f. Emptying: It refers to the intentional disappearance of power. It is often
applied by a skillful practitioner: When the opponent strikes, mobilize the
power to confront the strike and remove the power suddenly. This will cause
the opponent to be off balanced and fall forward.
g. Transparent. This refers to the opponent not being able to find the center of
gravity. In other words, it does not matter how powerful the opponent's strike,
when it comes close to the body, the power is not able to find the target. The
result is that the body seems to be transparent.

In combat, Tai Chi Chuan is a very effective art. Generally, people see practitioners
practice the Solo Form slowly and assume that this is how it works in combat
situation. It is a fallacy. Slow practice serves two functions.

1. It fine tunes the body and especially the components that involve the body
mechanics and motion so that when it moves, nothing will slow down the
2. It trains the practitioner's perception. Therefore, practicing the Solo Form and
Push Hands exercises correctly will prepared the practitioner better for combat
physically as well as mentally.

In any internal art, the primary concentration is always on developing oneself and
internal power. Developing martial technique is secondary. Therefore, after decades
of developing oneself and internal power, a practitioner generally does not engage in
any kind of confrontation unless it is absolutely necessary. When he does, a small
movement from the dantien will result in a powerful strike. When Tai Chi Chuan
practitioners in the past only controlled and push the opponent away so as not to
cause any injury or fatality, it had a lot to do with their martial virtue.

Kindness does not mean weakness.

The Strategy

Although many people today practice Tai Chi Chuan as a health maintenance
exercise, a large number of them do not realize that Tai Chi Chuan is a martial arts
system as well. It employs a very sophisticated combat strategy. Here are a few of its
main principles:

1. Softness overcomes hardness

Tai Chi Chuan practitioners often hear or read about the concept of softness
overcoming hardness in combat situations. This concept appears to be difficult to
believe. We know that everything that exists in this world is based on survival of the
fittest. The strong win over the weak. Then how can one be expected to win if one is
always on the defense? The answer is obvious. In Taoist philosophy, all things
evolve from Yin/Yang theory. The two are always in struggle to overtake each other.
Therefore, the two components never remain the same. We can see this principle
applied in war or other confrontation. Often, when two parties confront each other, it
appears that the party being invaded is generally the weaker party. However, the
invaded party often comes out victorious. There are usually three reasons for this

a. When the weaker party is being invaded, it can easily mobilize for more
b. When it comes to invasion, nobody likes the invader.
c. The invader has to come up with an excellent explanation in order to get any
support and justify the invasion.

The soft overcoming the hard and not striking first are concepts in Tai Chi which
reflect its the influence of Taoist philosophy. Lao Tzu believed that the softest of all
things is water. The hardest of all things is metal. However, given time, metal will
slowly be rusted and weakened by water. The same is true of the hardness of rock
and stone in the ocean which is slowly changed and shaped by seawater. The
concept of not striking first also enables one to examine one's self, evaluate all
weaknesses, and make corrections and improvements so that all mistakes will be
corrected and skills refined. If the opponent is proud of his skill and does not make
any corrections, the result is obvious. When one does not strike first, he is calm,
careful and patient. This indicates one has self control, courage, confidence, and a
clear and calm mind to observe the opponent's every action and look for a weak spot.
Therefore, to not strike first is a winning strategy.

2. Get there first

Although one should not strike first and it is recommended that one get to the target
first. The Tai Chi Chuan Classics supports this by saying that "...if the opponent does
not move, I do not move. If the opponent moves, I am already there." The concept of
arriving first is an interesting strategy that is difficult to execute. When the opponent
moves, one has a chance to observe the opponent's weakness and formulate a
response. In addition, when the opponent initializes the strike, one is inactive. This

inaction confuses the opponent and he does not know how to strike because no
weakness can result from no action. Therefore, to strike second is actually to strike
first. It is a good strategy to finish the confrontation quickly.

3. Neutralization
Tai Chi Chuan also puts emphasis on neutralizing the opponent's strike, and not
directly going against the opponent's strike. "Going against" refers to not to letting go
in any confrontation, being overcome with power, or any double weighted situation in
which direct confrontation happens and leaves both parties exhausted. Neutralization
refers to avoiding any confrontation or conflict. It is recommended to look for
alternatives and options to solve any confrontation or conflict. In any confrontation,
when the opponent strikes, one applies circular motion to neutralize the strike,
resulting in an advantageous position and the opportunity to follow with an action to
finish the confrontation.

The Unbreakable

In fighting and confrontation, there are many techniques involved. Although there are
many practitioners who spend their lifetimes improving their skills and techniques so
they are fast, deadly and powerful, the outcome of any confrontation is essentially
decided by two factors. Hardness and Speed.

1. Hardness
Although there are many martial art practitioners who toughen their hands and feet in
martial arts training, "hardness" not only refers to the hands and feet and their
movements. Most importantly, it refers to invincible power. There are two types of
power. Chinese martial art practitioners often prefer jing power over physical power
or li power because li power involves muscle contraction and it is restricted by the
shoulder and elbow joints. Therefore, li power is one dimensional and uncontrollable
after launching a strike. Jing power on the other hand, comes from the integration of
the whole body. Therefore, it is multi-dimensional and controllable after launching a
strike. Although one of the characteristics of jing power is it can not last long, it is
powerful because it involves the whole body when discharging power. Although one
characteristic of li power is that it can last for a longer period, it is generated from
localized muscle contraction, has no penetration capability, and cannot cause any
serious damage when compared to jing power. Therefore, it is not preferred by
Chinese martial arts practitioners.

There are two kinds of jing power. Yin Jing Power is for defensive and yielding
maneuvers. Yang Jing Power is for offensive and attacking maneuvers. Correctly
applying jing power is a very difficult task for all practitioners. Therefore, Chinese
martial arts practitioners go to great lengths to get this information. If one does not
correctly apply jing power, it will do more harm than good. If one applies it too early, it
will be taken advantage of by the opponent. If too late, one will miss the opportunity
and target. Therefore, a good strategy to execute jing power is to be calm, patient,
clear of mind, courageous and let the opponent strike first. One counters the strike
based on the opponent's weakness plus the opponent's power. Therefore, the
execution is powerful.

2. Speed
"Speed" not only refers to the quick strike. Rather, it refers to the body's position
changing quickly. It is so quick that the opponent cannot follow or respond. In
confrontations, one should always avoid the obvious. This means one has to keep
changing the position to search for the opponent's weak spot by advancing and
retreating quickly or turning and twisting the body. Many times we observe the winner
of a confrontation wins by executing a quick change in the body's position to avoid
the strike and uses this to his advantage to win. Winning is not solely based on
advancing, and/or retreating quickly or having a quick strike. However, it is very
important for a practitioner to strengthen the lower portion of the body so it is nimble
and flexible so it can support the body's profound maneuvers.

Although mobility is essential in all confrontations, advancing or retreating steps are
too obvious and dangerous. In advancing, if one advances one inch less, one will
miss the target. In retreating, if one retreats a little extra, one will miss the target as
well. Especially if one has to cover a long distance, this creates many opportunities
for the opponent to strike. In addition, quick strikes may be successful only some of
the time. When one strikes, one also exposes one's own weakness. This only can be
recovered by quick response and this quickness requires a very flexible body. In
confrontation, if there is no advance or retreat step, and both parties maintain the
same distance, then all positions will be based on turning and twisting of the waist
and body. When the distance is reduced, all the strikes have a better chance to hit
the target.

Although internal arts system practitioners emphasize personal development in their

training, this appears to have nothing to do with martial art's vigorous physical
activity, yet the training is inseparable from martial art. In spiritual practice, although
there are many motionless exercises, the exercises work on purifying the
practitioner's temperament, moral character and accumulation of power. These are
all vital components if one wants to excel in martial arts. In physical practice,
although the exercises are done slowly and in a relaxed manner, the exercises often
work to fine tune the practitioner's body to improve all physiologic organic functions.
For instance, it can establish better communication among internal organs, increase
sensitivity in the nervous system and improve coordination among the body, hands
and feet. These are the key components needed to excel in speed. This is similar to
lubricating the body no injuries will occur when moving quickly or responding
suddenly. Therefore, internal art practitioners actually work on some of the most
important components in martial arts to better their skills. Here are some of the
concepts internal art practitioners should focus on:

a. Seriousness
It means the mind is clear, focused and without extraneous thoughts. When the mind
is clear, it is tranquil because there is no more space inside. Similarly, when one is
engaging an opponent, one has to be calm and ready to neutralize the opponent's
strike because this takes considerable clarity from the practitioner. Therefore, when
the mind is clear and tranquil, the intent is pure and able to completely occupy the
mind. The practitioner does not have time to be afraid of anything. Additionally, when
one is peaceful, the qi circulates more smoothly and carries more nutrients
throughout the body. Therefore, one will not easily tire.

b. Complexity
Literally, it means many. In martial arts this means there are many techniques or
multiple strikes. A style must have a profound strategy, clear and distinguished
training methods for the practitioner to be able to launch multiple strikes without any
difficulty. In other words, the methods train the mind and body to act as a unit so the
body is coordinated. When one part moves, all parts follow.

c. Path
It means the motion of movement. Although people say that the shortest distance
between two points is a straight line, a powerful straight punch must involve the
whole body. When one strikes, every part of the body is going in the same direction
to support the strike. Because of the human anatomy and the structure of the joints,

in practice, all motions must be circulate to properly exercise the joint. However, this
contradicts the straight line concept. A profound training method is stretch all the
components that support the joints so they will be lubricated and the mechanics
behind the strike will be lubricated by executing a slow and relaxed movements.
Therefore, a speedy strike in application will not injure the practitioner.

d. Qi
It means power. For the nature of power as an insubstantial, one should begin to
train with static or small movements, also known as the soft component, to
accumulate power. Later, after one has already accumulated and begun to discharge
power, one should train with dynamic movements, also known as the hard
component. However, one cannot focus on one component without the other.
Accumulation and discharging go together. A skillful martial arts practitioner
understands this relationship and knows that one must combine accumulation and
discharging or soft and hard components together so the skill and power will become
indestructible and not easily exhausted.

e. Observation
Literally, it means perception. When one correctly perceives what is ahead, the
proposition and conclusion are correct and one has good timing in execution. When
one is engaging with an enemy, correct observation provides a lot of information
resulting in a powerful strike that is on target. The key in observation is what to look
for. In martial arts, a skillful practitioner often executes a powerful strike even when a
movement is simple because his basic skills of the hands and body are well

Although there are many misconceptions about internal arts regarding martial art's
rigorous physical activity, internal art practitioners treasure and value their training of
spiritual and physical practices. All skillful martial arts practitioners should make use
of this information and incorporate the components of Hard and Fast as part of their
daily maintenance exercises. Therefore, most Chinese martial art styles developed
exercises based on these components for beginners to train their waist and body for
flexibility and nimbleness.

Yang's Ten Important Points

1. The head should be upright so that the spirit can reach the head top. Do
not use strength, or the neck will be stiff and the breath and blood cannot flow
through. It is necessary to have a natural and lively feeling. If the spirit cannot
reach the head top, it cannot raise.
2. Sink the chest and pluck up the back. The chest is depressed naturally
inward so that the breath can sink to the tan tien. Do not project the chest. The
chi gets stuck there and the body becomes top heavy. The heel will be too
light and can be uprooted. Pluck up the back and the chi sticks to the back.
Depress the chest and you can pluck up the back. Then you can discharge
force through the spine. You will be a peerless boxer.
3. Relax the waist. The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can
relax the waist, then the two legs will have power and the lower part will be
firm and stable. Substantial and insubstantial change, and this is based on the
turning of the waist. It is said that the source of the postures lies in the waist. If
you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist.
4. Differentiate insubstantial and substantial. This is the first thing of all in Tai
Chi Chuan. If the weight of the whole body is resting on the right leg, then the
right leg is substantial and the left leg is insubstantial, and vice versa. When
you can separate substantial and insubstantial, you can turn lightly without
using strength. If you cannot separate them, the step is heavy and slow. The
stance is not firm and can be easily thrown off balance.
5. Sink the shoulders and elbows. The shoulders will be completely relaxed
and open. If you cannot relax and sink, the two shoulders will be uptight. The
chi will flow them up and the whole body cannot get power. "Sink the elbows"
means the elbows go down and relax. If the elbows raise, the shoulders are
not able to sink and you cannot discharge people far. The discharge is close
to the broken force of the external schools.
6. Use the mind and not force. The Tai Chi Chuan classics say, "all of this
means use of mind and not force." In practicing Tai Chi Chuan the whole body
relaxes. Do not let one ounce of force remain in the blood vessels, bones, and
ligaments to tie yourself up. Then you can be agile and able to change. You
will be able to turn freely and easily. Doubting this, how can you increase
The body has meridians like the ground has ditches and trenches. If not
obstructed, the water can flow. If the meridian is not closed, the chi goes
through. If the whole body has hard force and it fills up the meridians, the chi
and blood stop and the turning is not smooth and agile. Just pull one hair and
the whole body is off balance. If you use mind not force, then the mind goes to
a place and the chi follows it. The chi and the blood circulate. If you do this
every day and never stop, after a long time you will have real internal force.
The Tai Chi Chuan classics said that when you are extremely soft, then you
become extremely good in Tai Chi Chuan skill and has arms like iron wrapped
with cotton and weight is very heavy. As for those who practice the external
schools, when they use force, they reveal force. When they do not use force,

they are too light and floating. Their internal force is external and locked
together. The force of the external schools is easily led and moved and not to
be esteemed.
7. Upper and lower mutually follow. The Tai Chi Chuan classics said that the
motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by
the waist and manifested through the fingers. Everything is the same. When
the hands, waist and feet move together, the eyes follow. If one part does not
move, the whole body is disordered.
8. Inside and outside coordinate. In the practice of Tai Chi Chuan the main
thing is the spirit. Therefore, it is said that the spirit is the commander and the
body is subordinate. If you can raise the spirit, then the movements will be
naturally agile. The postures are not beyond insubstantial and substantial,
opening and closing. That which is called open means not only the hands and
feet are open, but the mind is also open. That which is called closed means
not only the hands and feet are closed, but the mind is also closed. When you
can make the inside and outside become one, then it becomes complete.
9. It is mutually joined and unbroken. As to the external schools, their internal
force is the latter heaven brute internal force. Therefore, it is finite. There are
connects and breaks. During the breaks, the old force is exhausted and the
new force has not yet been born. At these moments, it is very easy for others
to take advantage. The Tai Chi Chuan use mind and not force. From
beginning to end it is continuous and not broken. It is circular and again
resumes. It revolves and has no limits. The original classic said that it is like a
great river rolling on unceasingly and the circulation of internal force is like
pulling silk. They all talk about being connected together.
10. Seek stillness in movement. The external schools assume jumping about is
good and they use all their energy. That is why after practice everyone tire. Tai
Chi Chuan uses stillness to control movement. Although one moves, there is
also stillness. Therefore, in practicing the form, slower is better. If it is slow, the
inhalation and exhalation are long and deep and the chi sinks to tan tien.
Naturally there is no injuries practice such as engorgement of the blood
vessels. The learner should be careful to comprehend it. Then you will get the
real meaning.

Written By Vincent Chu

Copyright © 1969-2008 V. Chu.