Some 16 or 17 years ago I used to work privately with John Kells in his Islington basement flat.
Twice a week I would grope my way trying to understand his energy centric, spiral, figure 8 heartwork. It was in many ways a shock departure from my previous tai chi comfort zone.
The job of a real teacher is to cut through all the garbage you put up in your mind as resistance and break you down to the point of realisation. It is uncomfortable and many give up. There were frequent admonitions and exasperated cries of "can't you even do that " and so on.
Perseverance eventually brought a number of realisations. One of them is " don't wait".
We would practise connecting to an incoming punch followed by uprooting, then downrooting. The mnemonic was JEARL - Join, Enter, Assist, Raise and Lower. John had a way of making you feel trapped and your response always lagged behind.
If you are working with energy as opposed to just physicality, then you will develop a sensitivity to others. When you feel the spark of connection you must go forwards to meet the other person. If you wait then the incoming energy (of the punch) will strike you, This going forwards to connect and interact is beyond conventional thinking about time. As a result I was then able to uproot and downroot John.
There is no going backwards in this type of work. To go backwards is to invite the energy of the other person to land on you. This work became even more interesting when my tai chi friends Steven and Charles joined in the sessions and made them livelier and enriching.