After many years of watching Master Chen practice taiji, it occurred to me that he moves like a predator. I have always known that he makes micro-adjustments in each muscle when he does the form, but watching it has always felt mechanical; like he is a machine, able to move each joint in his body independently. But, when I watched my cat hunt for the first time, I realized that his movements are actually very natural.
When a cat hunts, its body moves in little twitches. It adjusts its body very precisely, like a machine. Every part of its body is moved to exactly where it needs to be, without wasting any energy or giving its spot away. If you watch a predator very closely as it hunts, it moves as if it is operated by gears: each tick moves the body just a little, and it must slot into place before something else moves. The overall arc of the motion is smooth, but each second looks like stop-motion. In this way, the animal is never caught mid-movement, and it does not lose its power as it changes position.
Master Chen’s taiji works the same way. No movement is wasted, and each muscle moves independently. Where a normal person uses six muscles to move their arm, Master Chen uses only one, so you can never see where the energy is going in his body. His body never wastes power, and his stance is never weakened. Instead, each muscle adjusts very slightly into the exact right position, and before you even realize he has moved, he pounces!