In an interview with The Martial Man, Master Adm Hsu on Chinese martial arts, the history and styles of Taiji Quan and its similarities to Baji Quan:
Many countries invaded China at the end of the Qing Dynasty. Their firearms defeated Kung Fu, and China lost wars repeatedly. China ceded territory and paid indemnities. The impact was so profound and heavy that people’s self-esteem and self-confidence in the nation dropped to its lowest point. At that time, Yang style Taiji was brought to Beijing. In order to make a living, its promoters created new theories to practice Taiji softly all the way.
Taiji “exercise” is ambitious and wants to be high up in the “sky.” However, Taiji “Quan” penetrates three feet underneath the earth’s surface and goes deeper into the “valley” to get power from the ground.
I started out learning Chen style Taiji Quan forms as described in the article. Today, I mainly focus on the soft aspects of the arts, i.e. Taiji „exercise“.
Albeit in my training I’m still rooted, drawing power from the ground with the difference that power doesn’t leave my body explosively. My experience seemingly deviates from the authors description. Or my understanding is missing some pieces.
In any case, in my experience, too, engaging the mind is highly important.
One of my my teachers once told me — and I’m paraphrasing:
Performing the forms without engaging the mind leaves them to appear empty. Only when mind and body move in harmony do they become full.
Back to Master Adm Hsu:
Sifu Liu clearly explained: “Practicing Kung Fu is the same as interacting with other people. You should be firm on the inside and flexible on the outside. However, you practice your Kung Fu the same way as you interact with others; You are firm both inside and outside. How could you live like that?”
A subtle nod to more standing like a tree, I’m sure.