The idea of allowing the energy or incoming force to transfer to the rear heel is is pretty basic principle, however I must admit that I don’t really heed too much attention to this idea in my own forms practice. Sure, I consider the stability and alignment but I generally don’t think about the incoming energy transfer in a particular movement, but I think this needs to change.
I was sent the video of Chen Zhonghua’s (CZH) (aka Joseph Chen) 2005 seminar workshop (doesn’t appear to be available yet, but for other workshop videos see the following link) and towards the beginning of the disc CZH demonstrates a sort of fajin type of forward stepping technique. What became of interest to me was how the technique was vaguely similar to the “chicken step” method of xingyi and the idea of using gravity to your advantage when performing a technique. However, Joseph explained it a bit different and he spoke about how the first part is too be able to transfer any incoming force into the rear heel.
What then really caught me was how he explained a practical application for this usage and how it applied to the fajin technique. Basically, if the incoming energy is transferred to the rear heel, this means the forward foot can be lifted and moved because the energy has been sent to the rear. In application, this can be used to nudge oneself closer into an opponent and use the front leg as a fulcrum to apply pressure to topple an opponent. WHOA… This may not seem like much but it really made me think about the practical applications of taiji, but not just taiji but in any movement. This idea is making me rethink how I evaluate structural alignment. I used to evaluate it in terms of knee/toe/hip alignment but the flaws in any stance really come to light if force or pressure is applied.
Above is only my initial impressions of the video and I look forward to watching more. Joseph goes into such great detail and provides multiple examples from multiple levels and viewpoints that his principles come across loud and clear. Best of all, it’s in english which is a major plus for me!