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Tai Chi
Continuity and Perseverance

30 May 2007
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 of taijiquan":

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.


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