Friday, December 9, 2011

Linking Hands and Feet in Tai Chi


This week's article is a continuation of a previous article, Manifesting Yin and Yang in Tai Chi. In that article, I wrote "As we begin to move, wu ji separates into yin and yang, the opposite poles. In other words, our body manifests yin and yang throughout the forms. Yin corresponds to empty/insubstantial and storing energy. Yang corresponds to weighted/substantial and delivering energy. Throughout a form, our hands and feet continuously transition between yin and yang."

Why is this important? What difference does it make whether a hand or a foot is yin or yang?

The answer to these questions is simple, yet subtle. Intention, thus visualization, is very important in tai chi. We need to learn to visualize the movements of the forms. When we become aware of yin and yang as described above, we start to develop a mental image of a linkage between our hands and feet. When you mentally link your hands and feet, you also coordinate the movements (link) of your upper body with your lower body so the top and bottom follow each other. With practice, it becomes more natural for the movement of your legs to create movement of your hands.

In turn, this awareness of connectedness helps you become more aware of substantial and insubstantial as you shift your weight. In turn, this makes you more aware of your balance and weight. You become more rooted.

It's a virtuous circle. As you practice your tai chi, you become aware of the interconnected principles that underlie tai chi. Spiral force helps you move properly. Moving properly helps you understand yin and yang, which relates to substantial and insubstantial. It develops into a never-ending spiral of deeper and deeper understanding.

Be aware though, you can't just read about it. You have to do it. Each time you practice, focus on one principle until it becomes second nature. Then focus on another principle. And so on. Then go back to the beginning and do it again with your newer understanding. Practice your forms. Thousands of times. There are no shortcuts.

© 2011 Eric Borreson