I realized we are four articles into our blog, and have not yet addressed any technical aspects of form. So let’s now take a look at physical mechanisms of taiji (tai chi) movement.

There are two primary physical mechanisms of the “elastic” or “internal” power of taiji – or of any internal martial art. They are referenced in the following two sayings known to all students of the taiji classics:

power is released from the spine


mind/intention (yi) leads the energy (qi), the body follows

I am a firm believer that if you understand something well, you can explain it simply, in language that is easily understood. The taiji classics can be opaque, to say the least, either intentionally (so the meaning is intelligible only to the initiated) or simply because the authors did not have the vantage of contemporary anatomy and medical science. “The qi did it” may be an accurate statement, on some level, but it serves little useful explanatory purpose. Explanation of physical mechanisms of the power of the internal martial arts is surely well within the realm of anatomy, physiology, and Newtonian mechanics. (I was going to write “simple” Newtonian mechanics but, having recently assisted my daughter with an AP physics course, that would not be an honest descriptor for me.)

In Part I of this blog entry we will look at the first of the two classical sayings quoted above.

Power is released from the spine

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