How do you generate internal power in taijiquan? For years I have emphasized the essential triad of:

  1. Energetic coherence.
  2. Central equilibrium.
  3. Ball-Knee-Kua

Energetic coherence brings your body-mind into a state of wholeness by marshaling the organizing power of the liquid crystal matrix, your connective tissue system. The easiest, most reliable way to do this is to point and reach with your index fingers.

Central equilibrium is that sweet spot that connects you up to the Big Qi of Heaven and Earth. It is most easily found by centering your body’s mass over the balls of your feet. Instant root.

Ball-Knee-Kua is the sequence that establishes your foundation in any posture, and allows you to access the huge power that can be generated by your lower body. You contact the earth energy with the ball of your foot (Bubbling Spring K-1), then set your knee over the ball, and finally release your kua (yin) or engergize it (yang).

But what next? Sure, if you can do the above easily and efficiently your taijiquan will kick ass, but is there more?

Oh yeah…Lots. But let’s focus on one thing here. The next link in the chain is the yao, the lower lumbar spine. This is often translated as “waist”, but waist means something different to most of us.

We think of waist as the area of the body between the hips and the ribs, but that’s not specific enough to be helpful. Once you get your kua moving you want to turn from your yao. But don’t overturn. Line up your shoulders with your hips, and keep them in line. In other words, you want to rotate your hips and lower lumbar spine together. Try placing your hands on your lower lumbar spine and turning your body as a unit. That way the power generated by the kua is not dissipated by inefficient or contradictory movement.

A common mistake is to initiate a turn with the head or shoulders. This interrupts the energetic connection with the power generated by the legs and kua. That pattern is pretty deeply embedded and requires conscious attention to root out. One way to break that habit is to consciously keep you nose in line with your navel as you turn from your yao. This brings your awareness down to where you want it, the dantian area.


When you trust your foundation, the rest of your body relaxes. Shoulder tension, neck tension start to melt away. Your movements aren’t just more powerful, but more balanced and graceful too.

Changing the subconscious patterns of a lifetime doesn’t happen by just thinking about it. Your somatic mind will keep doing what it’s been doing until convinced otherwise. And it isn’t persuaded by verbal arguments. It takes gongfu. Start by making friends with your yao.