Taijian class in Segovia

Taijiquan class in Segovia, Spain


As regards class development, should the Taijiquan instructors emphasize relaxation? They say they don't remember that you taught them how to relax in the Taijiquan courses.

-- Sifu Adalia Iglesias, Spain


Relaxation is of utmost important in Taijiquan and all internal arts. If one cannot relax, he (or she) cannot manage internal force. In the Taijiquan courses (in Segovia, Spain in August) I taught everyone to relax, not just once or twice, but all the time, and everyone did well. If they had not relaxed, they would not have the results that they had, such as having remarkable internal force, and feeling joyful and peaceful inside -- results which many of them reported to the class during discussion.

The way I taught them relaxation was different from what they might have imagined. That is why they might not remember my teaching them relaxation. I did not, for example, say, "Listen, you are going to learn relaxation. First you have to do this, then this, and this and this." This is text-book teaching, what many Taiji readers (in contrast to practitioners) might expect.

My teaching was informal. By various subtle ways I got the students to relax, even before they realized it. Later they could relax on their own, with little or no help from me. Only when they were relaxed and focused, could they proceed to other Taijiquan skills. This is an example of transmission of skills, which is qualitatively different from listing of techniques.

Do you remember the time we did combat application where even small sized women could throw big sized men to the ground. If the women were not relaxed they could not have done that -- had they tensed their muscles in their throws, the women would not have sufficient physical strength to throw hefty men. I recall one woman coming up to me and telling me that it was much easier than what she thought.

The interesting point is that that woman, like all others during the combat application practice, was not bothered about the various steps she must do to relax and to throw a hefty man to the ground. She just relaxed and threw him, which she did elegantly.

But how did she do it? It is like asking how did she walk. She just walked. In the same way she just relaxed and threw him to the ground. Such skills, of course, must be learnt personally from a competent teacher, who not only must have the skills himself but also can transmit the skills to his students methodically.

If that woman merely read the instructions from books or webpages, even if the instructions were clear and she understood them well, she could neither be relaxed nor throw a hefty man. This is one of many reasons I have so often mentioned that arts like kungfu (including Taijiquan) and chi kung need to be learnt personally from a competent teacher.

The above is taken from Question 1 Oct 2000 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.


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