Some thoughts about “4 ounces moves a thousand pounds” (四两拨千斤)
After some interesting Push Hands training today, I’d like to capture some of my thoughts and the discussion we had afterwards.
“4 ounces moves a thousand pounds” (四两拨千斤) is a Tai Chi phrase for a very skilful deflection. It is something all serious Tai Chi practitioners are keen to get. So to be able to use minimal force to handle a strong incoming force, you need a very good leverage, or as the Classics says “I am in an advantageous position, my opponent is in an awkward position. “ (我顺人背) 。
To be in such a position you need to follow or stick closely with your opponent. This is what the Classics says “Stick, Adhere and Continuously Follow.” (粘黏连随)。This is how you can sense the movement of your opponent and the right time to gain the advantageous position.
To be able to “stick, adhere and continuously follow” (粘黏连随), you need to stop being self-centred and focus on yielding and following to your opponent. This is what the Classics said in “Forget yourself and obey your opponent。” (舍己从人) 。
“Giving up yourself” is a serious challenge to many Tai Chi practitioners. But only by doing so can you reach the higher level of Tai Chi.
Sun Tzu said “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Tai Chi’s form training is knowing yourself. Push Hands training is knowing others.