"use mind, not force"
This important teaching must be followed at all times. To explore its meaning more thoroughly, it is useful to consider the two main characters. yi(4) means idea, meaning, intent. The character is made up of 2 radicals. The top piece is a modification of the radical for word or speak and means sound. The bottom piece is a pictograph of a heart. In Chinese culture as well as many other traditions, the heart and the mind are not separate. This radical usually conveys feelings, moods, emotions. It means heart, mind, center. The sound of the heart is the mind intent or idea.
The other character is li(4). This is a pictograph of a tendon, and means strength, power, force.
In TaiJi Quan practice, the idea is to allow the qi and the mind "keep each other company in the dantian. It is said, "first in the mind, then in the body." The mind mobilizes the qi which fills out the postures. This is the essence of the internal school, of the soft overcoming the hard. In external martial arts, the emphasis is on forcing the muscles to bind the bones. The ensuing tension and stiffness is antitethetic to the practice of the TaiJi Quan, as taught by our teachers. The practice of song (relax) is quite different than the experience of li (force.)
back to chinese meanings
back to taiji and knees
back to taiji and total hip replacements