Yin and Yang, the emblems of duality in relation to the internal arts. Part 3, The Sin of double weighting in the hands, and ways to avoid it
Distinguishing the weight in the hands and feet. Keith and Gloria.
Double weighting is referred to as a sin in Tai Chi Chuan because the fundamental principle upon which the art is based involves the interaction of Yin and Yang. Failing to distinguish the weight in the legs, impedes the speed of your reactive stepping, whether evading or following up. This is easy to understand, just as the differing actions of the hands/arms in the applications and pushing hands are also comparatively obvious. Yet for some people there is still the difficulty of how to translate the process of distinguishing weight in the hands, to form practice. There are many reasons why this can happen and almost as many answers, here are some:
For a beginner, the simplest way to incorporate a distinction in the way the hands are used in the form, and elevate it from the mere physical reproduction of an ideal posture, is to simply visualise an appropriate application for the movement as you perform it. The more detail you can visualise and the better your understanding of the application, the better your practice will be. Furthermore because you are visualising distinctive actions with your whole body, your circulation of Qi will be better, remember the Yi (intention) leads the Qi, so visualising the action of intercepting and deflecting with one hand will lead the Qi in one way, punching in another.
Of course this requires that the beginner has a clear understanding of the applications, something that some find difficult as they expect the application to mirror the movement of the form exactly. Generally this misconception that the application and the form should be the same, arises from not realising that the application was created first, and the form was developed as a way to teach some of the skills, and coordination required by the application, other skills are taught in other aspects of the syllabus; through push hands, Nei Gong, conditioning, meditation, and discussion.
In some schools the fact that a teacher has not practiced realistic applications is obvious from the fact that they can only reproduce an application from a set up, and that when reproducing the form as an application they do not take account of seemingly obvious things such as leaving an opening in front of an opponents unguarded hand, or leaving a leg where it will obviously be trodden on or fallen on if the technique happens to be successful. Such situations often occur where the martial tradition has become separated from the form practice and someone attempts to re introduce something, happily, this is not the case with WuDang.
A similar difficulty arises when a correctly taught application is practiced incorrectly, this usually has two causes:
The solution to both causes are focus and attention during the many aspects of training, often problematic for those who only wish to relax, or get fitter through their Tai Chi. Advancement in the internal martial arts is achieved through a great deal of focused study and practice, of all aspects.
Keith, Expressing Qi through the arms in different ways is necessary in form and application. Visualisation helps the Yi lead the Qi.
In the position above, both arms are expressing Qi in different ways, the right arm is feeling the speed and direction of an incoming blow, whilst turning the wrist and waist simultaneously deflects the blow and moves the target, allowing the body to reflect that energy and return it through the leading edge of the left hand.
The energy of the right hand is following the Peng pathway while the energy in the left is executing a form of Ji depending on the angle and application visualised. Although both arms might be seen to be expanding when analysed independently, observation of the whole body principle clearly shows that the action of the waist, informed by the information received from the deflecting arm causes one to be withdrawing, whilst the other is expanding into the opponents energy field. You can clearly observe the differing state of tone in the muscles of each hand and arm.
Part Four will discuss the perspective of an intermediate practitioner.
Keith has studied the Chinese Internal arts for over 40 years. He lives in England and Portugal with artist, designer and writer Gloria Dean and teaches in Portugal and the UK.