Lecture by Chen Zhonghua
25 November, 2014, DQS
[This was a talk given over dinner here on the mountain. The article is a paraphrase based on my memory. ]
In Taiji there is an idea of a nimble or light body quality. This quality commonly conjures images of clouds and light breezes. When practitioners of Taiji try to emulate or develop this quality, they end up developing a powerless state that engenders their own constant rout, but call it yielding and deflection.
When a baby is born, and through until the time it can walk, it can be observed to continually struggle to move. At first, even lifting its
However, by the time this baby is walking, its struggle is one of balance, and no longer one of strength. Its movement is now light, rapid and powerful. The infant’s weight, which had caused it so much exhaustion previously, has not decreased or disappeared – it has increased!
Now consider a large human male. Walking, climbing stairs, running for a cab. All of that person’s weight is being transferred to the ground through their relatively tiny ankles, and yet this complex action is carried out so effortlessly that, when we look at this person, we never consider their ankles with concern. The ankles seem to work without evident effort or strain. But the weight is unchanged, and the forces are real. There is tremendous strain, and tremendous, competent, effort.
A light body, then, is continuously under competent power, conveying an impression of ease and lightness. Athletes jumping hurdles float. Birds float through the air. A tiger floats as it stalks through tall grass. All are examples of powerful, competent, muscular action creating an impression of ease, even though the full weight of the body is always present, even though additional forces like momentum may be placing additional strain on the body.
The Taiji practitioner training to develop a true light body finally begins to understand that continuous full power, competently transferred through various functions, is the basic requirement. Our full weight must be moved with ease. Paradoxically, then, it becomes obvious that in the process of achieving the quality of lightness of body, one will become very heavy, and must develop the ability to move that heaviness quickly and accurately.
As this training reaches fruition, the test becomes moving lightly against an opponent. Every movement of the light body must carry its own full weight, and the opponent’s weight.
At the final reality check, you will be asked if you can go further and pick your opponent up. Very lightly, of course.