Taiji and Bagua are especially dependent upon Silk-Reeling Energy (San ssu jin) but it is also present in Xingyi.
Silk-Reeling Energy provides “coiling leverage” to movement. Silk-Reeling is not a scientifically valid “energy” in our bodies and it is not related to an invisible energy called “chi.” It is just like every other “energy” in the internal arts – it is a method of moving in response to force. The body mechanics of Taiji, Bagua and Xingyi are physical skills that require a lot of mental focus so you can be prepared to respond like an echo to an opponent’s force.
One of many ways this can be demonstrated is with a wrist grab. Your opponent grabs and you try using normal muscular actions to pull away as he tries to hold on. It will be difficult to escape. You may be able to escape, but it will take a lot of muscular strength.
Next, try spiraling out of the grip and see how the coiling leverage gives you an easier escape. It is described very well with the term "rotational force." By connecting the ground through the wrist and using the spiraling movements of silk-reeling (and other body mechanics listed below), your movements can overcome simple muscular force.
In normal internal movement, the rotational force of silk-reeling is dependent on your core internal strength:
- Establishing and maintaining the ground path
- Maintaining peng jin
- Whole-body movement
- Silk-Reeling (spiraling) movement
- Rotating the Dan T’ien
- Opening/Closing the Kua
Four ounces (“si liang”) cannot generate enough force without the core internal strength provided by the key body mechanics of the internal arts (neijia).
Properly using the coiling leverage of silk-reeling involves practicing the mechanics so you can develop an understanding from a physical perspective. When Chinese masters talk abstractly about developing “rou jin” (soft) with “gang jin” (hard), it can sound like gibberish. But you want your Taiji to be “iron wrapped in cotton.” The cotton is the softness – sensitivity, relaxed strength, supple flowing motions; the iron is the core strength of the body mechanics that give the movements their underlying power.
When you see someone like Chen Xiaowang do a form and suddenly explode with fajing, you see a burst of power that is a perfect combination of soft and hard (rou and gang) – yin and yang. It is not really that abstract but it requires an instructor to show you so you can practice it properly, and then it requires years of corrections and practice to begin getting it right. I am still working on it, but I have been shown the way by some talented internal arts teachers.
I will shoot a video this weekend showing this principle in action. It will be on the membership website by Monday (Aug. 11, 2014) at www.internalfightingarts.com. In the meantime, if you have not yet learned the core body mechanics of the internal arts, I would suggest checking out my Internal Strength and Silk-Reeling DVDs. They provide the foundation that you need for this long journey. They are available through my website (free shipping all over the world) and for U.S. members of Amazon Prime, they are available through Amazon with free 2-day shipping.
Both DVDs are available as a bundle at a special discount price. Go to this page and scroll down for the special offer.
Both DVDs are also available in the form of Amazon Kindle ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle Store.