The Tai Chi Classics and masters throughout the ages have emphasized the importance
of continuous motion in taiji. Yang Cheng-Fu, the 3rd generation master of the
Yang Family's taiji, listed the importance of continuity as one of his "ten essentials
In the case of the "Outer School" (which emphasizes attack) of boxing, the strength
one exerts is stiff and the movements are not continuous, but are sometimes made
off and on, which leaves opening the opponent may take advantage of. In taijiquan,
one focuses the attention on the mind instead of force, and the movements from
beginning to end are continuous and in an endless circle, just "like a river
which flows on and on without end" or "like reeling the silk thread off cocoons".
In applications as well as forms practice, we must practice our techniques smoothly
and continuously. Each time we stop, or hesitate, we create a "gap" in our movement
which can be exploited by a skillful attacker. In a martial art like karate, those
gaps are obvious; the challenge is to develop the timing skills needed to exploit
those gaps. In taiji the gaps are less obvious, so we must develop finely tuned
sensing skills that allow us to sense even the most hidden center.
In our lives, continuity is closely related to perseverance. We may start an activity
with a smooth, strong flow of activity, but the challenge is to sustain it. Even when
we come to spots where we think nothing is lost by a gap, we are wrong: all gaps
detract from the effort. Practice must be regular and continuous to develop the
benefits and goals we seek.