Needle wrapped in cotton
When I asked about the concept of "needle wrapped in cotton", the master countered with a question, "Do you fight with cotton or with needle? I answered that I would use needle instead of cotton. "In that case, why did you ask me, then?" the master said. "Cotton" is just a decoy to "cheat" the enemy is off his guard, make him think you are not strong. When you use your power to get him, he does not have the time to react. The bottom line is that we train power "jin". Without power there is no basis for anything in martial art.
Today more and more people talk about "needle wrapped in cotton". This means that more and more people are "cheating". Taiji must have elements of "cheating" but it relies on real power to win. We need to deceive our opponents but we won a fight with real abilities. Many masters cannot fight any real fight because they don't have real abilities like young athletes. This gives taiji a bad rap.
My own experience is that in a real fight I suffered consequences because of lack of real power. After that humiliation, I trained extra hard and come out with real gongfu. Some of the good masters that I know all had similar experiences.
Wai Rou Nei Gang "Outside soft inside hard" belongs to the same category. The so called outside soft is only an decoy to deceive opponents. The inside must be like a fully loaded gun. If this is the case, do we really need to play this "outside inside" game? Shouldn't we simply use out abilities to win?
Because of this, my own push hands has been harder on the outside than most so called "taiji masters". I don't want to spend my time learning how to cheat.