As part of the Tai Chi Mastery Program, Bruce Frantzis recently published a report called “The Eight Principles of Tai Chi Chuan.” The report is full of detail about stages of training 8 different energies of Tai Chi, laid out in clear and straightforward language.
But I always have a problem with writing like this….
On the one hand, it is invaluable for anyone who wants to understand the bigger context of their Tai Chi practice.
If you’re not careful, though, you can fall into a Tai Chi trap (see below after the video).
The Physical Attributes of Roll Back
In the report, Bruce details each of the different energies and one of the sections that jumped out at me was the chapter on “Lu” or “Roll Back.”
Roll Back is Tai Chi’s signature yielding or softening energy. Bruce lays out an excellent progression for training Roll Back.
Here, I demonstrate the five points he makes about the physical aspects of Roll Back:
The Tai Chi Trap
Now, when you read the report, Bruce lays out the physical aspects of Roll Back, then the energetic ones. Once he explains the physical aspects, he says,
During the early stages of learning Roll Back, your movements will be large and obvious, both in your joints and in your waist. Over time, however, as your physical movements become more refined and circular, they can become extremely small, so tiny, in fact, that they are virtually invisible to the eye of someone untrained in observing subtlety of movement.
And here’s the trap: you read about subtlety and refinement and energetics that seem superhuman and because you are a well-trained, sophisticated thinker, you choose to imagine that you can do the subtle version right away.
Bruce just gave you a road map, but you think you’re already at your destination because you can read the map and picture the destination.
Unfortunately, that’s not how a journey really works and that’s not how growth occurs in your Tai Chi practice. Especially when it gets to the subtle energetics, you have to work your way into them slowly over time.
The Big Road Map: The Tai Chi Mastery Program
Bruce is about to release a huge road map for a lifelong journey through Tai Chi. My biggest fear is that people will buy the map and fantasize about the destinations, but never actually begin the journey.
For anyone who does want to go on that journey, though, I’m getting ready to go with you and I’d be happy to be your guide along the way.
To get the rest of my guided tour of the Tai Chi Mastery Program (including “The Eight Energies of Tai Chi Chuan” report from Bruce), visit this page and sign up.