No Li... Pure Steel

By Stephen J. Goodson
June 6 2015

Here I am just looking at how the poetic lines of the Classics can be pulled on just a bit to help us find their meaning.

Exploring some lines from the Tai Chi Chuan Classic,
Expositions of Insights Into the Practice of the Thirteen Postures

Throughout the body, the I (mind) relies on the shen (spirit), not on the chi (breath).
If it relied on the chi, it would become stagnant.
If there is chi, there is no li.
If there is no chi, there is pure steel.

When doing the form, our mind should be coordinating our body's movements with the natural rhythm of the breath. Sinking the mind to our center of gravity during inhalation and trying to keep the mind there during the exhalation. The coordination is: inhale to counteract the body's floating (ex: while stepping), and exhaling when the body is stable and would functionally be discharging. (Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods, R.W. Smith, p31)

Pulling on the lines:

Throughout the body, the mind relies on the spirit(/reflexes)
     not on the (coordination of the) breath (with the body).
If the body relied on the (coordination of the) breath
     it would become stagnant [which is why we have reflexes].
If there is (concentration on the coordination of the) breath
     there can not be (brutish) force.
[At a higher level...]
When there is no (concentration on the coordination of the) breath
     (the spirit/reflexes take over and) there is pure strength.