It says in the Tai Chi classics:
“Anyone who has spent years of practice and still cannot neutralize,
and is always controlled by his opponent,
has not apprehended the fault of double-weightedness.”
But what does this mean? What is this peculiar fault of ‘double-weightedness’ that it refers to?
Of course, the classics are written in Chinese, and then translated into English, so there’s room for more than one interpretation, and they also often use obscure characters that are no longer in general use. However, from the actual practice of the art you can look at the classics and understand what they’re referring too. Like most classic writings, they only make sense once you understand (through physical practice) what they are talking about.
In more down to earth language it is saying that you need to understand how to yield to force if you’re ever going to ‘get’ Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art. And if you don’t understand that simple idea then you’re never going to be able to apply it no matter how many years you practice. The idea of yielding to force is a hard concept to understand in martial arts, because it not only sounds counter intuitive, but it is counter intuitive! When somebody pushes you, your natural reaction is to push back. Over time this initial impulse to resist force can be trained out of the body through exercises like push hands until it no longer becomes your unconscious reaction.
In terms of yin and yang, if somebody applies force to you, it is yang, and if you respond in kind you are fighting fire with fire. This is the double-weighting talked about in the classics. Tai Chi seeks to balance the yang with some yin – fighting fire with water instead.
I was attempting to explain this concept of yielding to force last night in class, using a kick as an example. Rather than being technique-based, we’re talking about a principle here, so it can apply to numerous techniques, it just so happened that we were working on a kick when we filmed it. I hope you enjoy the clip.
By Graham Barlow of Bath-Tai Chi and Choy Lee Fut (www.bath-taichi.co.uk)