Teacher Wu RH’s Tai Chi Chuan lineage:
Cheng Man-ching→Soong Jyh-jian→Wu Rong-huei.
Wu RH has studied this school of supple Tai Chi Chuan for three decades. He wishes to use forum to share his training methods and thoughts with TCC practitioners around the world.
Hands Last in Tai Chi Chuan Written by Wu RH, Compiled and Translated by Tang YY
Professor Cheng Man Ching - Image copyright of Ken Van Sickle.
Man-Ching left us TCC practitioners with a treasure trove of insight into the
TCC Classics. For example, he advocated “beautiful lady's hand,”“no arms in TCC
(NAIT)”, and “investment in loss,” all of which are as important and beneficial
as they are profound, counterintuitive, and often perplexing.
me tackle NAIT here.
he became a CMC disciple, Soong JJ, my teacher, was already a veteran martial
arts and TCC practitioner, but deep down he was aware that he still did not
understand the real essence of softness and relaxation in TCC. Soong only
really “got it” after CMC had told him the nuances of the NAIT method.
helped Soong realize that real softness and relaxation in TCC could only be
achieved by having the hands and arms move passively in response to other
hand and the arm are collectively or separately called “the hand” in the
Chinese language. “Don't move your hands in TCC,” CMC would inculcate
his disciples with this important concept and training method, which I have
shortened to NAIT.
means that you should not initiatie a movement of your arms and hands to, for
example, attack your opponent, and furthermore you should make your arms and
hands totally passive. As such, they merely respond to the movement of
something else, such as (a) your opponent's attack, (b) the turning of your own
waist, or (c) the relaxing of your own shoulder.
you can do (a), you fulfill the Classics' requirement to “yield and adhere.”
you can do (b) and (c), you satisfy another requirement, “move as an integrated
benefitted from NAIT, Soong designed a set of eight drills as concrete and
tangible steps for practitioners to take so they may advance towards the
nebulous goal of NAIT.
benefittd from these eight drills, which I have practiced for 30 years, I can
attest to the profound benefits of the NAIT.
the eight drills boil down to two points.
leads the shoulder, elbow, and wrist, in that order.
that the origin of the movement is the waist. This movement “ripples out”
through the shoulder, the elbow, the wrist, and then at last the fingers. The
momentum travels from “inside” orderly toward the “outside”. The hand is
clearly at the very end of the sequence, hence CMC's “Don't move your hands in
TCC,” or more plainly, “hands last.” The hands never start a movement; they
only end it.
the inside to the outside” is a TCC principle that applies in all
circumstances. It is, however, little talked about openly in the TCC community.
Teacher Soong called this type of counterintuitive principles “inverse
thinking.” Inveruese thinging is a unique feature of TCC, and it is also what
makes TCC great.
practitioners violate this principle. For example, if you intend to push your
opponent's right shoulder, you intuitively use your fingers first instead of
shoulder and then pointing the elbow downward.
are the embodiment of these stipulations in the Classics: “sink the shoulders”
and “drop the eblows”.
are very important upper body movements in TCC.
sum up, NAIT = hands last. The hands are terminators, not initiators; passive,
not active. The hands never start a movement.
They only end a movement—they are the last stop of your energy transmission.
To prove this, let's take a look at this requirement
in the TCC Classics: “From its origin in the foot, your momentum travels up the
leg, through the waist, [the shoulder, the
arm] and finally manisfest itself in the fingers.” Notice that the sequence
goes from the inside to the outside, reaffirming the soundness of Teachers CMC
and Soong's methods.