Hidden strength

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Doing or allowing?

Taijiquan is intended to remove the obstacles within your own body that prevent you from moving in a supple, child-like way.
However, removing obstacles, inhibiting old habits and 'not-doing' is not always sufficient.
Sometimes it is necessary to train new habits in order to replace or remove old ones.

Not forcing

Most of the neigong should be 'allowing', not doing. For a beginner they are often a 'doing' at first.
Consider the lower back:
The lower back needs to straighten in taijiquan. Ideally, this should happen as a consequence of letting-go.
But if your lumbar spine is very tense this may not happen and action becomes necessary.
By consciously relaxing the rear leg, the lower back is permitted to relax. Is this a doing or an allowing?


Dangers of doing

Doing can lead to exaggeration.
If you hug the scapula, the back will become accustomed to this position and hugging is no longer required.
Should you continue to hug, the scapula will feel sore.
Many neigong cannot be 'done'. They only occur through the release of tension. Use mind, not force.


Some knowledge of anatomy can be useful in taijiquan.
The body needs to be used appropriately because mistakes can sometimes lead to injury.
Many people call the abdomen the 'stomach'.
The abdomen contains the largest volume of water in the body and is the location of the lower tan tien.
Another common error is pelvis and hip.
Moving the pelvis rather than the hip can lead to knee problems and fails to massage the hip joint.
Both pelvis and hip need to be passive in taijiquan. We move from the centre and the hip follows.

Beyond posture

As a beginner it is easy to imagine that neigong are simply postural details.
This is partially correct in some cases but does not extend to many of the qualities.
Neigong is the how, the way of your taijiquan.
The essence.
Once a neigong has been incorporated, it is part of you. Your body has re-grown.
This fact tells you that it is far more than posture; the neigong is within your every movement.


'Sung' means to relax, to be soft.
The whole body has to give up its strength in order to relax.

(Cheng Man Ching)

Page created 18 April 1995
Last updated 09 June 2019