The more simple something is, the harder it is to do. At least if you strive towards perfection. Not only is simplicity an art, but not overdoing is an art as well. Most things, or rather the vast majority of things, you see in demonstrations in the different videos you can find all over the internet, is very easy to replicate. The demonstrations can look very impressive, people flying everywhere without effort. Or teachers demonstrating great balance through withstanding pushes. The teachers speak about using “Yi” or “sinking Qi” and sending Qi out. For most of what you see, what they talk about has very little with what actually is being done. The mechanics behind what you see is often very simple, and again, it’s all very easy to replicate or copy.
I remember the first classes I attended, how my teacher showed me how to do certain things, simple things like pushing and following. I remember how surprised I was by how simple things felt. What I did was very simple to do and when I got it right it felt like nothing. And doing felt very different from what I had thought it would be. There is certainly a glitch between thinking and doing. Doing is always different than thinking because doing is not about thinking, it’s something you are experiencing in the Now.
This might sound very simple and obvious, but the relationship between thinking and doing is not always so easy to understand. This relationship is why so many people cannot draw. Instead of drawing the lines of what they see, they tend to draw according to their idea of something, how they were taught or believe that something should be drawn. This is very much the same when people do in Tai Chi as well. Instead of exactly following instructions, they follow their own ideas. Some teachers are very much aware of this glitch between idea, thinking and doing, and they use their knowledge about this to prevent their students from developing. Good teachers on the other hand will teach their students to over-bridge this glitch, how to overcome their fixed ideas and how to make them actually “do” instead of “think”.
The hard and difficult part in Tai Chi is not really about developing extraordinary powers. What is hard in Tai Chi lies in the present. It is to do things good, or even adequate, as you need to fine-tune your movements, doing things exact and precise. Replicating things is easy, often more easy than most teachers would admit. But doing things unrehearsed and with spontaneity demands practice. As well as practicing with a certain amount of precision of execution.
I don’t look at Tai Chi foremost as a way to explore or develop Yi or Qi. I look at Tai Chi as a method of self-reflection and self-awareness. The road to success in the Art is very much directed towards simplification. A simplification of both mind and movement is necessary. Only if your mind is set to always do things as simple as possible and always to not do anything unnecessary, you will understand how to overcome the interference of your own learned habits and preset ideas.