Loading...

Follow Slanted Flying - Journal of Tai Chi Chuan on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

The article “Qi” is reprinted on Slanted Flying website with the permission of the author Sam Langley from his personal Blog.

I can feel something. A kind of fullness. As I move, the feeling changes. It almost feels as if something is moving me. I hear my daughter crying and it’s gone.

Qi is like a badger, it’s very shy.

If you look too hard it seems to evaporate. It is something that can be felt but not measured which leads materialists to conclude that it doesn’t exist.

Often disagreements come down to semantics. What do you think Qi is?

Qi in the context of martial arts or Chinese medicine is merely a convenient label for a phenomenon that can be felt. If you have acupuncture you’ll probably experience strong feelings of energy coursing through your body. Western Science doesn’t seem to provide a satisfactory explanation for what’s going on here and so we call it Qi.

What animates your body? What is life or consciousness? Within the current scientific paradigm, these are difficult questions to answer. If all matter is essentially dead stuff then how is anything living? Taoist philosophers described the life force that permeates the universe as Qi.

It’s understandable that people are sceptical. Qi is a much-abused word. So many Tai Chi teachers play up the magical, ethereal and intangible aspects of the art which gives the majority of people a very mistaken impression of what it’s all about.

In my experience people often fall into two camps: Those that think any talk of internal energy is bullshit and those that can see, feel and exchange Qi with trees, the universe and extraterrestrials with little or no practice.

But whilst Qi itself might be elusive it is possible to scientifically test the effects of Acupuncture, Qigong and Tai Chi on a person’s health. There are numerous studies showing that Qi practices are very effective for many different problems and it is widely accepted that they work. Is there a materialist explanation of WHY they work? Maybe but it’s probably deeply unsatisfactory.

The Chinese are practical people and have been historically less concerned with WHY things work than IF they work. Meanwhile, in the West we have been steadily dissecting, reducing and questioning everything. Scepticism is healthy, in my opinion, but if something is proven to work and WHY it works doesn’t fit into your model of reality then it could be that your model needs to change.

I can feel something. Is it Qi? I’ll say…..yes I’m happy with that term because I can’t find a better one.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sword (劍 jian, double-edged straight sword) is perhaps the most popular weapon in Taijiquan (太極拳) practice, even though it is more difficult to use properly than the saber (刀 dao, sometimes called a “broadsword” and refers to the single edged sword), the other classical short weapon. This may be due to the circularity inherent in the way the jian is supposed to be used, like a flying phoenix or like a swimming dragon (both of which are said to move in spirals).

While made of metal, the jian has the quality of water when associated with the wuxing (五行 five phases), whereas the dao is associated with metal. The dao is more direct and uses many powerful techniques, whereas the jian is more fluid and yielding, and is more subtle and uses more agility and precision than the dao’s techniques (i.e., more finesse than power). The jian is said to be the “king” of short weapons, and is considered to be a master’s or gentleman’s weapon.

Unfortunately, many of the practice jian manufactured today have greatly altered characteristics from historic weapons, in order to make them easier to use in solo performance, resulting in modern swords that are typically handled improperly when compared to how historically accurate weapons are handled.

Historic swords needed a sufficient mass (typically 600-900 grams) to resist easy defensive deflections away from the intended target, and the point of balance needed to be far enough out beyond the handle and hand guard (typically 6-8 inches beyond where the handle meets the guard) to facilitate pivoting the weapon around an opponent’s weapon, as well as to resist deflections and help the sword to remain on target. The mass and point of balance of historic swords also helps one to properly control the opponent’s weapon when utilizing deflections and other techniques that occur when weapons contact each other.

Conversely for performance, with no consideration for combat functionality, one would want a sword that is as light as possible and with a point of balance closer to the hand. This would make the sword-like object easier (and faster) to move and would be able to be manipulated in a dramatic fashion with a mere flick of one’s wrist. These characteristics produced the floppy-bladed wushu (武术) performance jian that got so extreme that competition rules had to be made requiring the blade to be able to support the weight of the jian when balanced on its tip.

Unfortunately, the way that manufacturers met this requirement was to merely stiffen the spine of the blade without adding significant weight to the jian. These revised performance jian appear less comical, but the performers did not need to alter their habitual ways of handling the jian. The jian were used merely as stage props that allowed quick and flashy movements that looked impressive, but were without realistic function and would be wrong in combat. Wushu swordsmanship became merely dancing with stage props, however flashy and impressive that dancing was.

Training with unrealistic weapons generally leads to unrealistic movements for controlling the actions of the jian, and typically leads to a misunderstanding of the characteristics of the weapon and the movements and purpose of one’s forms.

A jian should have four points that one pivots around; the tip, at points about one third and about two thirds of the length of the blade, and the hand/wrist/root of the sword blade. Only the last is facilitated by a balance point close to the guard, but at the expense of the other three.

Pivoting around the tip is often used to maintain the weapon pointing towards the opponent while changing the angle of the potential attack. Pivoting around the point about a third of the blade length from the tip is often used to change from a thrust with the tip to a cut with the end third of the blade, as well as situations where light contact with the opponent’s weapon is used in order to exploit an opening to attack through. Pivoting around the point about two thirds of the blade length from the tip of the blade is frequently used when deflecting and controlling an opponent’s attack, and setting up a counterattack.

The pivot at the hand/wrist/blade root is where most of the potential problems occur, and is often where those using unrealistically light jian tend to move the most. Too often those using a light weapon flip their wrist around like they are using a flywhisk!

We do not want too firm of a grip such that the sword becomes primarily just an extension of the forearm (like when using a club or a bat), but we also do not want a too loose grip where the sword can be easily knocked off target or even knocked out of one’s grip. We want a mobile “joint” that is neither excessive nor deficient.

Different schools have slightly different recommendations regarding gripping the sword, but most have the thumb and index and/or middle fingers doing most of the gripping, with the ring and little fingers mainly aiding in controlling and directing the sword. The sword’s handle should be movable enough in one’s grip that it can break contact with the palm and/or heel of the hand, but one should still maintain sufficient control of the handle that an opponent cannot adversely affect one’s grip just by bumping into your sword.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sword (劍 jian, double-edged straight sword) is perhaps the most popular weapon in Taijiquan (太極拳) practice, even though it is more difficult to use properly than the saber (刀 dao, sometimes called a “broadsword” and refers to the single edged sword), the other classical short weapon. This may be due to the circularity inherent in the way the jian is supposed to be used, like a flying phoenix or like a swimming dragon (both of which are said to move in spirals).

While made of metal, the jian has the quality of water when associated with the wuxing (五行 five phases), whereas the dao is associated with metal. The dao is more direct and uses many powerful techniques, whereas the jian is more fluid and yielding, and is more subtle and uses more agility and precision than the dao’s techniques (i.e., more finesse than power). The jian is said to be the “king” of short weapons, and is considered to be a master’s or gentleman’s weapon.

Unfortunately, many of the practice jian manufactured today have greatly altered characteristics from historic weapons, in order to make them easier to use in solo performance, resulting in modern swords that are typically handled improperly when compared to how historically accurate weapons are handled.

Historic swords needed a sufficient mass (typically 600-900 grams) to resist easy defensive deflections away from the intended target, and the point of balance needed to be far enough out beyond the handle and hand guard (typically 6-8 inches beyond where the handle meets the guard) to facilitate pivoting the weapon around an opponent’s weapon, as well as to resist deflections and help the sword to remain on target. The mass and point of balance of historic swords also helps one to properly control the opponent’s weapon when utilizing deflections and other techniques that occur when weapons contact each other.

Conversely for performance, with no consideration for combat functionality, one would want a sword that is as light as possible and with a point of balance closer to the hand. This would make the sword-like object easier (and faster) to move and would be able to be manipulated in a dramatic fashion with a mere flick of one’s wrist. These characteristics produced the floppy-bladed wushu (武术) performance jian that got so extreme that competition rules had to be made requiring the blade to be able to support the weight of the jian when balanced on its tip.

Unfortunately, the way that manufacturers met this requirement was to merely stiffen the spine of the blade without adding significant weight to the jian. These revised performance jian appear less comical, but the performers did not need to alter their habitual ways of handling the jian. The jian were used merely as stage props that allowed quick and flashy movements that looked impressive, but were without realistic function and would be wrong in combat. Wushu swordsmanship became merely dancing with stage props, however flashy and impressive that dancing was.

Training with unrealistic weapons generally leads to unrealistic movements for controlling the actions of the jian, and typically leads to a misunderstanding of the characteristics of the weapon and the movements and purpose of one’s forms.

A jian should have four points that one pivots around; the tip, at points about one third and about two thirds of the length of the blade, and the hand/wrist/root of the sword blade. Only the last is facilitated by a balance point close to the guard, but at the expense of the other three.

Pivoting around the tip is often used to maintain the weapon pointing towards the opponent while changing the angle of the potential attack. Pivoting around the point about a third of the blade length from the tip is often used to change from a thrust with the tip to a cut with the end third of the blade, as well as situations where light contact with the opponent’s weapon is used in order to exploit an opening to attack through. Pivoting around the point about two thirds of the blade length from the tip of the blade is frequently used when deflecting and controlling an opponent’s attack, and setting up a counterattack.

The pivot at the hand/wrist/blade root is where most of the potential problems occur, and is often where those using unrealistically light jian tend to move the most. Too often those using a light weapon flip their wrist around like they are using a flywhisk!

We do not want too firm of a grip such that the sword becomes primarily just an extension of the forearm (like when using a club or a bat), but we also do not want a too loose grip where the sword can be easily knocked off target or even knocked out of one’s grip. We want a mobile “joint” that is neither excessive nor deficient.

Different schools have slightly different recommendations regarding gripping the sword, but most have the thumb and index and/or middle fingers doing most of the gripping, with the ring and little fingers mainly aiding in controlling and directing the sword. The sword’s handle should be movable enough in one’s grip that it can break contact with the palm and/or heel of the hand, but one should still maintain sufficient control of the handle that an opponent cannot adversely affect one’s grip just by bumping into your sword.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

On the last Saturday of April every year, thousands of enthusiasts from across the globe will gather together in groups to demonstrate and celebrate the ancient art of Tai Chi. They start at 10:00 am locally in their time zones. This year the World Tai Chi and Qigong day will fall on Saturday, April 27th.

Please enjoy this video of the 2018 event held in Greenville, South Carolina. Film maker Valdas Kotovas has been filming the day’s events in Greenville for over 10 years. You can see other excellent works of his on his YouTube Channel and learn more about him on his website valdasvideo.com.

Tai Chi Day / Greenville, SC - Vimeo

Beginning with the first time zone in the little country of Samoa, the worldwide events for World Tai Chi and Qiqong Day will begin at 10:00 am Somoan local time. The annual event will then move westward through such countries as Australia, Japan, China, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America. The last Word Tai Chi Day celebrations wills take place on the Hawaiian Islands, 23 hours later at 10:00 am local time.

The World Tai Chi and Qiqong Day event began originated in 1999.  Tai Chi teacher Bill Douglas organized an event to celebrate the healing benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong. He gathered a group of about 200 participants and demonstrated Tai Chi and Qigong on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, in the United States.

There are many World Tai Chi and Qigong Day events across the globe are usually organized by the different local groups and schools of Tai Chi or Qiqong. To join an existing World Tai Chi and Qiqong Day event, or register your own event, you can visit the official World Tai Chi and Qigong Day website.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Country western music singer songwriter Jim Lauderdale has featured himself performing Tai Chi in his newest music video.

Jim Lauderdale - "Listen" (Official Music Video) - YouTube

I’m delighted to say that my new song “Listen ” is out this week. I wrote it with Buddy Cannon. It’s about the humility and wisdom that often comes with age and experience. The film clip was directed by Jeremy Dylan on location in Sydney, Australia. Just before making the video, I spent a week in China, learning the Yang family style of Tai Chi. I’ve still got a ways to go with refining it, but I thought this particular style of my practice would go well with what we are saying in the song. The majestic Blue Mountains were definitely a wonderful place to practice!
 

Jim Lauderdale – Facebook post

It is a real pleasure to see Tai Chi being featured in mainstream media such as music videos, commercials, television, and feature films. I look forward to seeing more quality Tai Chi being represented in these types of venues.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The article “Pay Attention!” is reprinted on Slanted Flying website with the permission of the author Sam Langley from his personal Blog.

During standing practice, something occurred to me: Awareness is the first and most important principle in Tai Chi. It sounds obvious now but when it hit me I had to go and write it down.

Most of us are a bit stiff, holding tension in much of the body and we need to work out how to let it go. This requires paying attention. I can only relax my chest when I perceive the tension and the same goes for my lower back and my hips.

We also want to improve our posture, not for aesthetic reasons but to enable deeper relaxation and develop whole body connection. Again, we need to be aware of our body to straighten up and balance properly.

Mindfulness is a word that is, perhaps, a little overused these days and as such is starting to lose its meaning. Tai Chi, however, is in part a mindfulness practice. You can’t learn Tai Chi unless you pay attention and you’re not really practicing it if you’re not paying attention.
It’s interesting to me that Tai Chi requires you to concentrate but also improves your ability to do so. Maybe it’s enough to simply practice regularly and your awareness will grow naturally all on its own? Or perhaps not. If you take a look around any Tai Chi class you’ll see that some people are paying more attention than others. 

My advice is: When you practice Tai Chi don’t add any distractions, just practice. I used to have a student that watched films whilst doing standing qigong which is definitely not paying full attention! So no films and I would also say no music.

It may come down to the strength of your intention. People with a passion for something tend to really concentrate on it. Those with the highest level of skill in Tai Chi very often have had health problems. As a last resort, they turn to Tai Chi to heal themselves and give it everything they’ve got.

It goes without saying that in the modern world there’s not enough awareness. When I cycle down Gloucester road I can count on one hand the number of people not staring at their phones and even those who aren’t are probably, invisibly, listening to them.

Any practice that improves your awareness is an important one. I’ve found that practicing Tai Chi improves my self awareness and as my self awareness grows so does my awareness of the world around me. I feel more present when talking to others and more aware of the effect of my actions.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 


America is a stressed nation
, with an American Psychological Association survey noting that three out of four adults report having one stress symptom in the previous month, and 45% admitting to lying in bed at night, plagued by worry. The situation is particularly dire for those working in high stress jobs, including military personnel, firefighters, air pilots, and health care professionals (doctors and nurses). If you work in one of these professions, it is vital to take a proactive approach to stress, in order to enjoy sound physical and mental health while enhancing your work performance.

Why is Stress so Dangerous?

Stress does more than keep us tossing and turning at night. It is linked to serious diseases like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It also affects fertility, making it harder for women to conceive. Stress is additionally linked to anxiety and depression – the two most common mental conditions plaguing Americans.

Why Tai Chi?

Numerous studies have shown that Tai Chi and two other mindful practises – meditation and yoga – are particularly effective at lowering levels of stress hormone, cortisol. One study published in the Applied Nursing Research journal offered Tai Chi to older nurses for a 15-week period. Findings showed that, compared to a control group, the Tai Chi group had a 20% greater reduction in work stress after the end of the study period. They also showed a 23% greater reduction in general stress. Researchers noted that preserving nurses’ mental wellbeing is particularly vital because sufficient numbers of younger nurses are not available to replace the large number of nurses retiring. The aim is to keep nurses working longer, but in order to do so, the important issue of stress must be addressed – and Tai Chi can clearly form an important part of a successful strategy.

Not all Workers are in Optimal Health

Many people forge ahead at work despite battling conditions like osteoarthritis and heart disease. Studies have shown that Tai Chi can significantly improve the quality of life for people with these conditions. Performing well at work involves psychological as well as physical strength; the ability to interact with others and maintain a positive mood. Tai Chi has been found to beat depression and help people cope with even challenging diseases such as cancer. Its ability to keep the mind ‘in the here and now’ allows many people to escape the negative thought patterns that worry about the future can bring about.

Tai Chi and Veterans

Work related stress is particularly devastating in those with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder as a result of experience on the battlefield or in wartorn countries. Researchers at the Boston University Medical Center found that Tai Chi was helpful to those with PTSD. In particular, this ancient practise helped soothe symptoms like intrusive thoughts and difficulty with concentration. Of course, it also significantly boosted participants’ flexibility, strength, and ability to manage pain.

Tai Chi for Everyone

Tai Chi (as well as yoga and mindfulness meditation) are ideal stress busters for busy workers for many reasons. Since it is a low-impact activity, it is suitable for people of all fitness levels and ages. It is great for older executives who may be just starting an exercise regiment, because it does not strain the joints and muscles. It does not leave practitioners breathless or cause a spike in the heart rate, yet it incredibly effective at boosting strength and mindfulness – a quality which busy workers can find very elusive in their day to day lives.

Tai Chi has so many benefits that busy workers can enjoy. These include a reduction in osteoarthritis related pain, improved balance, and, as mentioned above, an improved ability to manage stress. Many modern day individuals may not be able to work less or for shorter hours, but one thing they have the power to do, is reduce stress through the powerful yet gentle practise that is Tai Chi.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Tai Chi master Gin Soon Chu has passed away. He was a disciple of Yang Sau Chung, who was the oldest son of the famous Yang Cheng Fu. 

Gin Soon Chu began training with Yang Sau Chung in Hong Kong, and later moved to the United States and in 1969 opened the Gin Soon Tai Chi Club in Boston, Massachusetts where he taught for 50 years.

Gin Soon Chu taught the Yang style of Tai Chi to many students in Boston, and from across the world, with many of those students who are now teaching the art to others.

Vincent Chu and Gordon Chu, the sons of Gin Soon Chu, learned Tai Chi from when they were young from their father. Vincent and Gordon carry on the teachings and traditions of the Yang style of Tai Chi Chuan as they have learned from their father, Gin Soon Chu.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Gin Soon Chu, as well as his many students throughout the world. The funeral will be held at 11am on Monday, March 25th at the Wing Fook Funeral Home located at 13 Gerard Street in Boston.

More information about Gin Soon Chu and the Tai Chi school he founded in Boston can be seen at http://www.gstaichi.org

Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of master Gin Soon Chu, as well as his many students throughout the world. The funeral will be held on 11am Monday, March 25th at the Wing Fook Funeral Home located at 13 Gerard Street in Boston.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that there is scientific evidence that Tai Chi is a helpful, drug-free approach to improving sleep quality. If you’re not sleeping well and you want to feel fresher in the morning, adding Tai Chi to your lifestyle may be just the ticket. When you harness the power of Tai Chi and follow other sleep-boosting tips, you’ll be able to enjoy healing rest that gives you the energy to power through your days and evenings.

Why is Tai Chi an effective treatment?

Tai Chi works wonders for insomnia and other sleep complaints. Tai Chi is about meditating while in motion. It’s a practice that is holistic, because it’s a mind-body pursuit. Tai Chi emerged in China as a form of martial arts, and it’s known to relax the body and boost physical fitness. With Tai Chi, you’ll access gentle, low-impact exercise as you soothe your mind. Your mind and body will receive benefits that make it easier for you to fall asleep at night and stay asleep.

Learning Tai Chi is very fulfilling

Have you ever watched people do Tai Chi in the park? If so, you may have noticed how relaxed and peaceful they looked. Learning Tai Chi isn’t difficult and can be very fulfilling. When you begin instruction in Tai Chi or teach yourself, you’ll probably notice a measurable improvement in sleep quality. A study published in summer of 2008 showed that participants who practiced Tai Chi enjoyed significant sleep quality improvements. To get started, find a local beginner’s class, watch a video, or read instructions online.

What else improves sleep quality?

Tai Chi is a wonderful, pharmacological-free way to sleep deeply, instead of tossing and turning all night. When you combine regular practice of Tai Chi with other time-honored sleep quality treatments, such as natural herbal remedies and the purchase of a new mattress that is made for your specific body type, you will maximize the benefits of performing Tai Chi. Staying on a regular sleep schedule and avoiding using electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime will also be very beneficial. Creating a restful nest in your bedroom, which is painted in a soothing color and kitted out with soft, clean bedding and high-quality pillows (and no TV) is also something that you may do to boost the odds of sleeping well.

Start leaning Tai Chi today

When you take control of your sleep problems by learning the ancient art of Tai Chi, you’ll begin a journey that leads to greater mind-body wellness, in addition to deep and healing sleep. Tai Chi is wonderful drug-free treatment for insomnia and restless sleep. It’s a deeply soothing martial art that almost anyone may enjoy. Once you discover the holistic benefits of Tai Chi, you may find that it becomes a treasured ritual in your daily life.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

There are many mental factors that should be considered when practicing Taijiquan (太極拳), and the way that people naturally react mentally can become traps, especially when interacting with a partner or opponent. Addressing the mind is more familiar to many from the Zen mind approach in Japanese martial arts (especially swordsmanship), but Taijiquan also addresses the mind in many ways, although less formally than in Japanese arts.

We can start with the tendency of humans to let our egos affect us. For example, people with limited experience tend to think that they are better or more skilled (have higher confidence) in activities than they really are. This phenomenon is called the Dunning-Kruger effect:

https://understandinginnovation.blog/2015/07/03/the-dunning-kruger-effect-in-innovation/

This effect can be described as proceeding from the novice thinking “What?” to “I once was blind and now I see” [“Peak of Mt. Stupid”] to “Hm-m-m, there’s more to this than I thought” [“Program Termination Zone”] to “Oh man, I’m never going to understand it” [“Valley of Despair”] to “OK, it’s starting to make sense” [“Slope of Enlightenment”] and then to “Trust me, it’s complicated” [“Plateau of Sustainability”] as one approaches mastery.

In Taijiquan, novices are often taught to feel their qi (氣energy) flow, or to use intent (用意yongyi), and other concepts that are susceptible to self-delusion (and the Dunning-Kruger effect; the slope up “Mt. Stupid”), especially in the early stages of Taijiquan study. During solo forms practice, there is little feedback available for one to know if they are understanding, and using, the concepts properly. But at higher levels of skill these same concepts (of qi, intent, etc.), once understood, can be very useful.

The effects of ego can often be seen in fights where, after one combatant succeeds in landing a blow, their opponent tries a similar attack back. This is merely one’s ego trying to show that “if you can do something, then so can I.” We should strive to act with what is appropriate to the specific situation, rather than playing “revenge” or “one-upmanship” games.

A similar situation of attempting to show superiority occurs when one side issues force and the other tries to respond with greater force. This leads to force vs. force situations that are contrary to Taijiquan philosophy. Instead, we want to change the situation to our advantage rather than trying to beat the opponent at their own game (where whoever is stronger/bigger is more likely to win). When one lacks the flexibility to change, one often resorts to using more force instead.

Since we were toddlers, we have trained ourselves to lean into, or brace, against force. When first trying to push something, toddlers push themselves away instead, ending in them seated on their diapers. Leaning into the object allows toddlers to use whatever weight they have against the object that they try to push. Our minds have therefore become accustomed to replying to force by applying more force, and to lean or brace when doing so.

But Taijiquan teaches the opposite; to avoid using force against force! We train to issue force from the ground – from our feet, developed by our legs, directed from our waist, expressed in the arms. In push-hands (推手tui shou), interacting like a “butting cow” (顶牛ding niu) is considered to be an error indicative of poor quality Taijiquan. Butting against a partner or opponent reflects our lifetime habit (since we were toddlers) of leaning and bracing, and resisting force with force.

We instead want to “receive” force into our “root” (into the ground). We want to remain comfortable and aligned, and if we conduct incoming forces downward (e.g., by bending our back leg) rather than bracing backwards (e.g., straightening the rear leg), then the incoming force is more aligned with gravity, which healthy human bodies are comfortable with due to naturally “resisting” gravity every time that we stand.

We have habitual mental images of responding horizontally, pushing forward and pulling backwards, instead of pushing/projecting up from, and pulling/absorbing down into, our feet. The horizontal tendency is what produces the “butting cow” posture during push-hands practice. The “butting cow” loses the resiliency of the rear leg which stiffens instead. One would then lose the quality of “loading the spring” (compressing into one’s root – the ground) that is more appropriate for Taijiquan.

When one’s joints stiffen or lock in response to force (either incoming from an opponent, or outgoing from one’s own issuing of force), the body loses its changeability. We may appear stronger (at least in the one direction that the force/resistance is directed towards), but we also become less adaptable. Taijiquan seeks to maintain changeability/adaptability even when under pressure; we want to maintain the openness of our joints, like they are well oiled and free to move, rather than locking/tightening them in place.

Many people when they want to bend lower or raise their leg higher for example, try to use force or momentum to do so rather than trying to relax more. This “try harder” or “do more” approach seems to be what humans have learned to do rather than relaxing (doing less). Unless someone is taught stretching or yoga, or something similar, the tendency is to bounce harder and harder in order to force a greater range of motion.

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview