… but don’t break them.
It’s a tough balancing act. My legs are pretty strong. They have to be, to support my weight. But their very strength gets in the way of other things I might like to do, like running and suchlike. The only way to make them stronger is to challenge them. And in taiji, the easiest way to challenge the leg muscles is to make them work harder, by sinking lower toward the ground.
This does several things. First, of course, it lowers one’s center of gravity. This is excellent, because a lower center of gravity gives greater control over balance. Second, it challenges the legs to do more, and builds up that musculature. Third, it lowers the head, and forces more of the body to engage in the form; when the knees are bent, the leg muscles support the body’s weight, and can’t cheat the stomach muscles out of the work of tucking the tailbone. Everything has to do its own job, and not get side-tracked by other parts of the work — so make the legs do the legs’ job, which it supporting and moving the body, and let the trunk do the trunk’s job, which is twisting and turning and breathing. More than that, yes, I know. But it’s important to not let various body parts overcompensate for various weaknesses. Make each body part do its own part of the work.
My legs are sore this morning.