A student and I review, discuss, and drill applications and the principles they are meant to teach. Sorry about the sound, the camera usually catches these things better.
“What is the method that makes it possible to entice the opponent to enter, cause him to fall into emptiness, unite with him and then throw him out? For that matter, what separates Tai Ji Quan (or the internal/soft style) techniques from all other types of techniques? The answer lies in one underlying skill; namely, the ability to “stick adhere, continue and follow” [Zhan, nien, lian, sui]. Stick and Adhere refer to connecting with the opponent in a soft and nonconfrontational manner and maintaining this connection as you both move (blocking an opponent’s incoming force inevitably results in the opponent being knocked away. This makes it impossible to join with the opponent and one is doomed to remaining double weighted). Continue and Follow refer to “giving up oneself and following the other” by continuously following the opponent’s movement and changes in order to maintain your connection. In this Situation, you may constantly monitor the opponent’s actions and intent while seeking the time and opportunity to join with and lead his center, thereby bringing him under your control.
One may ask, “what exactly are we sticking to and following?” Do we stick to the opponent’s arms? His torso? The answer is we stick to the opponent’s center of gravity (his pelvic region). In Tai Ji Quan technique this is rarely achieved by direct contact (a useful example to help understand the concept of sticking to and controlling an opponent’s center is the wrestler, who routinely sticks to his opponent’s center directly, as when applying the popular bear hug). Most often, the Tai Ji Quan fighter will seek to stick to and control the opponent’s center through contact with his arms and/or upper torso, using these regions as handles to the opponent’s center. In order to maintain control of the opponent’s center, the point of contact with the opponent will often change in the course of an exchange. The ability to stick, follow and control an opponent’s center in the midst of motion is cultivated in the various push hands drills found in all styles of Tai Ji Quan.
The Techniques of Tai Ji Quan are primarily grappling oriented. Although practitioners are trained to strike with all parts of the body, purely percussive techniques (strikes designed to cause local tissue damage) are far less common than the grappling oriented techniques which include pushing, pulling, twisting, sweeping, locking, throwing and knocking. Techniques such as these are designed to control the opponent’s center and displace him in space.” – Tim Cartmell