The concept of “Two Bodies” in Tai Chi Practice

Ever since my teacher, George Xu, first talked about the concept of two bodies, I’ve wondered what he meant exactly. Intellectually I thought I knew what he was referring to. But, since little in taiji is as obvious as it first appears, I had to ponder it over time to understand more clearly.

My “pondering” took place in my practice, in the movement of taiji itself, not in “thinking” about it, which is word chatter in the head. So I arrived at this articulation: Two bodies refers to the physical body and the energy body as two distinct units of our total beings. What I have since clarified, at least in my own mind for now, is that the quest of the tai chi practitioner is to distinguish between the physical and energy bodies, then learn to direct their activities separately. For example, while moving the body up, while moving energy down. Or the other way around. This touches on the concept of “opposing forces” in tai chi, which isn’t really accurate because “opposing” suggest going against and that is not what is intended. It means, as the yin-yang symbol shows, that there is an up on any down motion and vice versa.

With extended practice, you learn how to remerge them into a new, more powerful entity.

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