In last night’s taijiquan class we analyzed two of the four faults mentioned by Yang, Ban Hou in Treatise 3.5 (from Yang, Jwing Ming’s Tai Chi Secrets of the Yang Style). The fault of resistance is using too much force to meet an incoming attack. This fault is easy to feel and understand. When you push an opponent, resistance is when he pushes back. (This is the situation called double weighting, mutual resistance or contest of strength.) When the opponent resists, you should immediately switch from yang (push) to yin (pluck) and allow the opponent to uproot himself. You can even use the stratagem of luring out the opponent’s resistance.
If resistance is readily understandable, the fault of butting is not. Butting means overdone, using excessive force to attack. Using overwhelming force worked well as a military strategy in the first Iraq war where the US rejected the policy of gradual escalation used in Vietnam. However, it does not work well in Taijiquan. For example, if you play your opponent with an on-off strategy and get him into a bad position, you can easily uproot him if you apply the appropriate amount of force. Use the same strategy in the same situation, but employ an excessive amount of force, and the same opponent will throw you away. If you push hands or center with masters, you find they never fault by butting. You find yourself uprooted so subtly you ask yourself, what just happened?