Pain, block. No pain, no block.Chen Xiaowang
I heard this from Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang in 2001, in a private Taijiquan (Tai Chi) lesson. It’s a well established principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Conversely, when there’s no blockage, there’s no pain. An interesting example is treatment of a herniated spinal disc by Acupuncture. In many cases, Acupuncture eliminates the pain and numbness caused by the herniated disc, and this allows the Attending Doctor to cancel surgery. Acupuncture doesn’t “heal” hernia, as the protrusion of the intervebral disc isn’t actually reversed, but it reestablishes the Qi circulation, clearing symptoms. Taijiquan (Tai Chi) respects this principle. note 1
Similarly, in Taijiquan (Tai Chi), pain is a symptom of Qi circulation blockage. Wherever Qi flow is impeded, there will be pain – so, whenever the student feels pain, he should know that Qi is blocked. It should be emphasized that pain is not to be confused with fatigue or burning in muscles – tiredness and burning aren’t what the Grandmaster refers to, but acute pain. It is natural that muscles become very tired during Taijiquan (Tai Chi) practice.
In a private class with the Grandmaster, feeling the muscles exhausted is to be expected, but there’s no pain. The first occurrences of this feeling are somewhat surprising, for during common exercise, when the tiredness arrives, pain usually accompanies it, as posture isn’t perfect from a Qi flow standpoint. But not in Taijiquan (Tai Chi): during good practice, all muscles work in perfect proportion, the body is exercised wholly, and there are no blockages in Qi flow.
If you are in a Taijiquan (Tai Chi) class and you feel acute pain, specially in the joints, be sure to tell your teacher straight away. He should adjust your posture so the pain is gone. You should never bear acute pain in an effort to be strong or perseverant – pain is a sign of posture mistakes that need correcting.