Here’s a Tai Chi spear exercise to test whether you are correctly using your tan tien or just muscle strength.
- Stand with your spear beside you and then step forward.
- Now lunge forward with your spear – chest high – until it is horizontal to the ground. As you do this slide your hands down the spear – holding the end – palms facing upward.
- Now focus on your tan tien and move the spear to the left and then to the right and back to centre.
- Lower the spear until the tip almost touches the ground and then raise it back up to the horizontal position.
- Return to starting position
If you feel a strain in your shoulders and arms while you have the spear out in front of you then you are relying on external strength.
The key is to relax your body, particularly the arms and shoulders, and focus on your tan tien to initiate movements.