Why cant you eliminated the stiffness after practice Tai Chi for so long ?

In practicing Tai Chi, wanting to delve deeper into the art, the biggest obstacle encountered is the challenge of one’s inherent force, which is the stiffness throughout the body, both inside and out. This inherent force affects the light and agile application of Tai Chi, presenting practitioners with the task of overcoming this barrier.

Tai Chi emphasizes the integration of body and application. Practicing the forms, push hands, and striking techniques involves dealing with force, referred to as force points. Eliminating inherent force is a challenge to oneself. Without studying one’s own force and force points, it is difficult to advance to deeper levels of practice. Similarly, it is also necessary to study the force points of the opponent in push hands and striking. If one’s own force points are not eliminated, it is impossible to neutralize the force points of the opponent’s attack.

When the forces of both sides are stuck together, neither can escape or neutralize the other’s attacking force. Both lose the characteristics of Tai Chi such as “light and agile movements,” “changes between Yin and Yang,” and “the interplay of movement and stillness.” At this moment, it is hard to say it’s “Tai Chi” push hands because both sides are attacking with force.

The so-called force points are the contact points where both sides touch. At the moment of contact, feeling the force from the other side is to recognize the force point, which can vary in size. Touching the opponent with a finger, the force point is as small as the finger, but if pushing with the palm on the opponent’s body, the force point is as large as the palm.

Does practicing Tai Chi alone not involve force points? It does! However, beginners often find it difficult to detect their own force points.

It is normal for Tai Chi practitioners to have force points in their limbs. If, after many years of practice, the limbs are still full of force points, indicating areas of significant hardness blocking your hand, this proves that their years of Tai Chi practice have been of little effect, and there may be issues with the teaching.

From practicing the forms to wrapping the fists, from movements with force to the intention without force, from lifting hands and feet with inherent force to moving lightly and agilely.

Eliminating force points is not easy. How can one eliminate force points?

It’s natural to use force in all movements from birth, and practicing Tai Chi requires eliminating inherent force. “Using intention without exerting force” is very difficult and represents the first major hurdle for Tai Chi practitioners. Some suggest “practicing tightness instead of looseness,” but tightness leads to stiffness and more force, creating a vicious cycle of force that is hard to escape from. However, practicing Tai Chi with intention, not brute force, presents a contradiction between inherent force and relaxation, a dichotomy difficult to reconcile, necessitating the elimination of inherent force throughout the body.

Tai Chi practitioners having force points throughout their body, filled with tension inside and out, unable to eliminate this force for years or decades, why? These individuals likely have insufficient study of Tai Chi theory and have not fully grasped its essence. Ultimately, they lack theoretical preparation before practicing Tai Chi, leading to inevitable obstacles.

Understanding the truths of Tai Chi is not accomplished in one go. One must continually recognize and understand the principles, knowing the characteristics of Tai Chi such as “changes between Yin and Yang,” “light and agile movements,” and “using intention without exerting force.” Of course, these are not the only characteristics of Tai Chi; practitioners will encounter many others during their practice.

Understanding the art of Tai Chi is not just a mental realization or verbal expression, but a physical understanding, or “bodily comprehension.” Speaking of the skill of “empty and relaxed hands,” Chen Xin set the standard of “wonderful hands empty and relaxed.” To achieve such skill requires hands that are empty and relaxed, without exerting force. If the inherent force in the hands has not been eliminated, one does not truly understand Tai Chi.

Li Yiban wrote in “The Four-Character Secret”: “Follow others, not oneself; to still follow oneself is indeed following others. If you lead, you stagnate; if you follow, you move. Being able to follow others, one’s hands will have precision.” This explains Wang Zongyue’s phrase, “Give up oneself to follow the opponent, leading to their advance falling into emptiness.”

Eliminating the inherent force in one’s body as a Tai Chi practitioner is attainable. First, one must calm down, learn the theories and techniques of Tai Chi, follow the principles of the forms, regulate one’s movements, grasp the characteristics of Tai Chi, and act according to the rules. With time, success is assured.

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