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For Taiji Boxing practitioners, there is a fixed process of progress. You cannot skip steps and rush ahead. The subtlety of Taiji Boxing all comes down to using energy. (This “energy” has to do with nimbleness and liveliness, comes from a deeper level of training, and cannot be explained only in terms of physical strength.) Although the energy is shapeless, it must be in accord with the shape of the technique in order for you to start to be able to manifest it. In Taiji Boxing, whenever you concentrate power it depends on being good at moving energy. If you neglect it when applying techniques, you will end up unable to understand why they are not working, and you will feel pathetic, that you have wasted your time, and that progress is hopeless. Compared to proceeding step by step and progressing gradually, you will instead get half the effect for double the effort, the result of not abiding by the natural sequence.
Confucius discusssed education along these lines: if it is always based in talented instruction, then each student will benefit from it. Although boxing arts are a lesser skill, it takes applying it upon opponents to say you have mastered it, which no one has ever been able to do quickly, therefore a practitioner of this boxing art should first imitate the teacher’s postures.
Once you are doing them correctly, you must seek to be mindful of linking them with each other. Once you can do the solo set fluently, you must focus on each posture’s function. Once you are familiar with the techniques, see whether or not you can apply them properly. Once you have grasped the proper way to apply them all, see whether or not your power is empty. Once your power is substantial, you have truly engrained the techniques.
Then seek to identify energies through pushing hands. Study the weight and speed of your opponent’s movements and the direction his energy moves toward. After a long time, you will naturally come to identify a little bit, then a little more, until you progress to the point that you sense the slightest thing and everywhere know what it is, and then you will have grasped what is meant by identifying energies.
Once you are identifying energies, you will not try to apply techniques and they will happen by themselves. You will progress to the point that without the energy there is no technique and without the technique there is no energy. Gradually you will reach the level at which you do not need to apply techniques, you only need to apply energy. Then finally you will not try to apply energy and the energy will happen by itself, for you are wielding power by way of intention and transposing intention with energy. There is spirit in your touch and nothing can stand against it. You have proceeded to the miraculous. Indeed, without several decades of ardent practice, how could you attain this?
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