Wu Yuxiang, the originator of Wu style Taijiquan, said in the Taijiquan manuals; “Jin originates from the heel, permeates through the leg, is commanded by the waist and manifests itself in the hand”, such being the internal methodology of jin emission in Taijiquan. While these few sentences are concisely written and accurate in description, they unfortunately have misled a fair number of Taijiquan practitioners in that they tend to press their legs against the ground with brute force. We should not simply look at the written text in our attempt to understand the classic manuals. It is only when taking into consideration the general approach of never using brute force in Taijiquan internal practice that the underlying meaning of the author can be truly revealed. It is unlikely that Wu Yuxiang would popularize the concept of using brute force to press the leg against the ground, which is something that most people can do anyway without the need to refer to any classic manual for directions.
According to my personal understanding, Master Wu was trying to describe the routing of jin, which is, one must firstly loosen up the whole body so that there is a pathway created along the legs, through the waist, reaching through to the fingers. Not until this is achieved can one attempt to practise this methodology in fajin. Yi (wisdom mind) is used to lower and “place” the body weight on the ground. Be mindful in capturing the rebounding force thus generated, which should then be released along this channel. Take care to relax the whole body in the process of weight lowering, such weight to travel through the dazhui heading for the waist and coursing through the legs onto the ground. When the weight is rebounded, the dantien should expand so as to direct the generated energy towards shoulder blade, ie, this is the stage of chu (storage). During fajin, the whole body relaxes and rests on the ground as an object, its weight totally borne by the gravitational pull. Beware that neither leg should press hard against the ground, nor should the hands manifest any brute force. The energy generated as a result of the rebounding force should be released like the shooting of an arrow from a bow. Countering this principle, the passageway will close up preventing fang, i.e, the smooth and unimpeded “release” of jin.
Amongst the numerous styles of wushu, only Taijiquan adheres to the rule of not using brute force, hence its unique training methodology. Those who are keen to learn must have a Taijiquan mindset before they can properly get through the doorway into the world of Taijiquan. Otherwise, they are merely practising a slow-motion form of shaolinquan.
Written by Patrick SW Chan
Translated by Vicky Wong