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Insights from a tai chi tuishou class. - Part 1
Tai Chi Tuishou Class 21-04-12
Depending on the context within which it is taught, Tai chi tuishou can seem mysterious, subtle, wimpy, brutal, rough, violent, serene, meditative, or powerful.
In the classes which I teach, it is up to the student to decide how they wish to practise tuishou, and it is up to the student to decide what they want to practise it for.
Of course, I set certain parameters for the sake of safety, and I require that beginners practice differently from advanced students.
This video shows the tai chi practice of conserving momentum and applying leverage to borrow the opponents force.
The result is that a smaller person can send a larger person into the air with very little movement and no real effort whatsoever.
One person sets their position as solidly as possible, with the intent of not being moved from that position. Their plan is to resist in what ever direction is necessary to maintain position and balance.
The partner must be sure to avoid forcing it. They sink the chest, relax the shoulders, align the posture and open the joints. They allow their posture to align in such a way that any resistance from their partner will go into the ground through a series of natural arcs.
When they apply the leverage, they do so with maximum mass and minimal motion. They apply leverage that allows for maximum momentum with minimal kinetic energy. This way, the opponent cannot stop the push, but will also be unable to sense its direction.
The movement is so imperceptible that it often looks fake.
But it can all be explained in terms of simple Newtonian mechanics
If you are used to watching fights on TV where everyone is making wide swinging attacks and huge movements they are swinging with the wrong end of the lever.
People don’t tend to cultivate efficient power because they don't get any immediate satisfaction from it.
Since they are not using any effort as they would in other exercises like weight lifting or running, they don't get the burn that proves that they are getting results.
That is why so many people have difficulty grasping it. It is so subtle it doesn't provide that satisfaction you get when you punch a heavy bag or something.
When you work out with a bag, you know that you hit that bag, that you damaged it, and you get that sense of accomplishment.
It seems to defy belief, because it is not like four ounces merely redirects a thousand-pounds or four ounces neutralizes a thousand-pounds.
Four ounces actually defeats a thousand pounds. Four ounces opposes a thousand pounds and the four ounces wins.
There is only one way to explain that with Newtonian mechanics.
It's like a wheel or like any other kind of lever.
And it is facilitated by the mind and the body being relaxed and empty.