Anyone who wishes to master an activity must first understand its tools and rules. In internal martial art practice, the tools are not material objects but concepts, and the rules governing mental rather than physical performance only.
In Tai Chi practice, in order to achieve a high level of understanding and mastery of this art, practitioners should understand what the determiner of maintaining a relaxed manner in any single movement. These important aspects are mental state, physical condition and related coordination between the mind, breath and movements, including dynamic motion and static posture.
Relaxation is not a procedure, it is the result of practice. Therefore to relax, the posture and the movement have to be correctly performed according to Tai Chi principle. One of the golden-rules in Tai Chi practice is: “fast, but not mass; slow, but not pausing; light, but not floppy; sinking, but not stiff.” It indicates the basic principle of judging Tai Chi practice. When someone reaches above standard, we can say that his form and posture are relaxed.
Relaxation does not mean being soft, it means maintaining a balanced state. Also, as a principle, being balanced in Tai Chi practice not only means physical aspect, but also the relationship between the tangible parts of the body and the intangible part, which is the mind. Otherwise it will not be considered as being balanced, then it will be impossible to achieve the stage of relaxation.
Relaxation as an important principle can be applied in a static posture. More importantly, it should be applied in the whole practice, especially to the dynamic form. The coordination between body and mind, between breathing and movement, between opening and closing motion, will be much harder to achieve in the dynamic stage. Also, it is a valuable touchstone of testing and judging our own practice.
Maintaining the right posture in the sense of balance, keeping the dynamic motion easy and smooth, these are two keys of correct practice of Tai Chi.
Therefore, the tools are our mental state in practice, while the rules are correctly and precisely understanding the principle.