Tai Chi Chuan practitioners
as like other Chinese martial art practitioners, they are in favor of internal
power over physical power. What is the internal power? What is the physical
power? How does one differentiate the two?
Internal power is a type of power that is sharp, has the ability to
penetrate and has the elasticity characteristics. The result is that an
experienced Tai Chi Chuan practitioner made a small body movement can force the
opponent to fly backward far away. This is the indication that the practitioner has
achieved one inch power. One inch power means that the practitioner has the
ability to discharge power in a very close distance.
We observed in some of the Push Hand competition where two competitors
struggle a long time to determine the outcome. They are using the physical
power as power source to push the opponent. Since the physical power is blunt
and does not have the penetration ability, the result is often confrontational.
In the same push hand competition, one party can push the opponent away to win
after a long struggle. However, many times the second party step forward as well.
This type of power struggle is not recommended in Tai Chi Chuan.
The Tai Chi Chuan's internal power is referring to the power result from body
integration. It is the product from body stretched or the joints are loosely
open to stretch the ligaments and tendons involve each joint.
Physical power is referring to the power we used daily. It is the product
from the muscles contraction and extension. Obviously, one can see that internal
power and physical power are contradictory. In order to let the joint loosely
open to stretch the ligaments and tendons, the muscles involve each joint have
to relax. If the muscles are exciting, it is difficult to have each joint
loosely open to stretch the ligaments and tendons. Therefore, if one uses
internal power, one cannot use physical power. If one uses physical power, one
cannot develop internal power.
In Tai Chi Chuan training, it is important to keep the muscle relaxed so the
body can stretch. Therefore, at the end of each movement, the head is suspending
from above, sink the shoulder, point the elbow, bend the wrist, sink the chest,
pluck the back and keep the back straight. All these requirements are necessary
to have the joint loosely open to stretch the ligaments and tendons to generate
power. The same is true in discharge power so the power can travel from the
bottom of the feet up to manifested on the hands.
Of course, we knew that it is impossible to have the body completely relax. We
can see that in some of the Tai Chi Chuan movements such as in the kicking
techniques. The muscles on the supporting leg are exciting and have tension so
that it is able to maintain body balance. In discharge power, the abdomen is
stiff so the power travel to the hands.
Today, there are people said that using the physical power is necessary in
push hand exercise. They believed that lifting weight and other types of
physical power trainings are helpful and included as part of their Tai Chi Chuan
training. These people do not fully understand the art of Tai Chi Chuan. Power
developed from lifting weight is coming from the muscle contraction and
extension. This is the method of generate physical power. It is not the same
method as in Solo Staff Exercise for internal power. During this exercise, the
muscles from the shoulders, arms and elbows are relaxed so the joints are
loosely open to stretch the ligaments, tendons and connecting the power which is
coming from the bottom of the feet go directly to the end of the staff. This is
the same principle as in Tai Chi Chuan's Fa Jing. Therefore, Solo Staff Exercise
is a good method to develop internal power. It has been part of the Tai Chi
Chuan training for century.
Understanding the meaning of internal power and how it is different from
physical power are necessary to develop a correct training method.
Article By Vincent Chu