#6 – Use intent rather than force
The 10 essentials are as follows:
1 – Empty, lively, pushing up and energetic
2 – Hold in the chest, pull up the back
3 – Relax the waist
4 – Separate empty and full
5 – Sink the shoulders and droop the elbows
6 – Use intent rather than force
7 – Synchronize upper and lower body
8 – Match up inner and outer
9 – Continuous, without interruption
10 – Seek the stillness in motion
#6 – Use intent rather than force
Everyone is familiar with external force. Getting hit by a bus is external force. Most martial arts train and issue external force. External force is characterized by the power coming from the musculature. The player can rock back onto his rear leg and then explode forward by subconsciously contracting the quadricep in the thigh to straighten the leg. He’ll then couple that forward momentum with power issued in the same way from the back, shoulder and tricep to snap out a punch towards the opponent. This issuing of force is all based on body mechanics with a little physics thrown in.
The taiji player learns to train a much more subtle force and believe me when I say this takes a while J
Intent is a mental faculty. It is without form. Intent is about as subtle as it gets in this gross reality. Yet the classics say we are to use this subtle force rather than the easily applied and often very useful external force described above. Why? And How?
Let’s look at the why first.
Though we see the world as a vast see of things like books, cars, people… everything is really energy at a fundamental level. So if one was to “attack” a situation, is it best to chop at the branches or strike at the root? The root of any situation will always be a mental construct. In the case of a confrontation it is NOT the occurrence of X, it was how someone perceived and reacted to X that continued the energetic relationship, which then manifested into the physical. Your spouse or boss would not be yelling at you if they did not perceive something in your relationship and then act out upon that perception with a specific (often loud) energy. So any interaction is based on the subtle, which then manifests in the physical.
Most people don’t know this but the main energies of auras are not generated by the physical, which then emanate out to be seen by the aware few. Auras actually work the other way around. The main energies of the aura manifest the physical. Our universe works from the subtle to the gross. Understanding this, we learn and then train to make use of this fundamental fact.
Now onto the how.
When I talk about manifesting I use a very simple concept. Think, say, do.
Thinking can be associated with certain levels of the subtleties of mind. The important lesson to “get” is that everything starts at the subtle level of reality. So understanding this we train to raise our consciousness and become less automatic in our perception, emotions and our responses. We train to become more conscious of our and the “opponents” subtle qualities and intentions. One of the reasons taiji is performed so slowly is to allow the player to delve extremely deeply into the physical world of the forms but also to “witness” the mind and the role it plays. After much witnessing we learn that we are not our minds. The thinking mind is just one of our many tools. Then we can start playing in the world of PO (ancient mind, energetic reality) and train intent without thought. (For those who don’t know anything about PO use the search function on this site) Accomplishing this level of training represents a very high level of skill, especially if you manifest your training in everyday life situations.
The above is where I like to play, but I’ll talk a little bit more about a different aspect of intent. A well-trained Taiji player can pick up on another’s energy or life force and then the outcome of the interaction will be directed by the dominant mind. So the well-trained taiji player manipulates the other player on an energetic level which then manifests into physical dominance. Training to play on this level requires an ingrained instinctual gift or the sharing of wise teaching from a good master or years/decades of internal/personal searching.
On an even more gross level intent can be represented as the thought to accomplish a goal. I want to apply a palm strike using “fair lady weaves with shuttle” technique. So to properly issue fa jin I’ll put my mind/intent at the bubbling spring point and flow the mind up the nine pearls, which will lead the qi along the same path, eventually manifesting in a focused and deeply penetrating issue of energy into my opponent. This issuing technique is called ming jin and is more subtle than external force but not as subtle as an jin (hidden force) or hua jin (perfect force) one of the great goals of the taiji player.