We spent some time on Wrist Na training in today’s Taijiquan class. In Wrist Na, you try to keep your palms on top of your partner’s wrists. Your partner uses the Yin and Yang coiling of the “snake climbs over the branch” exercise to move his hands to above your’s. You try with light and agile movements that originate in your root and waist to prevent partner from coiling over and if he succeeds in coiling over, to in turn coil back over his hands. The Taiji classics say, “light then agile, agile then variable, variable then neutralize.”
Many beginners try when they first practice Wrist Na to prevent their partner from coiling over to atop their hands by tensing, resisting by using force, and even by grabbing and holding the partner’s wrist. This response maybe a symptom of having one’s ego invested in “winning” at Wrist Na. They tend to take the same approach to other Taijiquan training exercises such as pushing hands.
But Wrist Na, pushing hands and other Taijiquan training exercises are not ends in themselves where it is meaningful to think in terms of “winning” or “losing.” Although it might be fun to engage in win/lose competition in these exercises, it will be counter productive if such an approach leads to the building of bad habits such as using excessive force or resisting instead of yielding and following. Such bad habits will be very detrimental to the student’s progress in higher levels of Taijiquan training.
When the student’s training moves to higher levels, habits of tensing, resisting, or grabbing developed if the student attempts to “win” at Wrist Na will result in the student remaining slow and clumsy and becoming vulnerable to Qin Na. If your partner in Wrist Na is so skillful that you are unable to keep your palms atop his or her wrists with light and agile movements, then the proper response when your partner coils over is to follow partner’s coiling with your own.