This week, I would like to talk about turning at the waist. All styles of tai chi have some type of turning movements. Push off with one foot, start to shift your weight, and turn. This type of movement should have some movement of the hips, but even more movement of the waist.
One of the things we learn in our tai chi practice is to turn our waists separately from our hips. Beginners to tai chi generally don't even know that the hips and waist can be moved separately. These students have a certain "board-like quality" to their movement. I know. I've been there.
How do we learn to turn properly? Start by sitting in an upright chair. Not on a soft cushion, but a chair where you can sit up straight. Place your feet flat on the floor. Turn from side to side. Play with it a bit. Loosen your upper body and swing back and forth. Tighten your upper body and turn at the waist.
With a little bit of playing around, you should notice that you can turn at your waist even though your hips can't move because of the chair.
Now stand up and try it that way. Play with it as you did when sitting. You should begin to feel the separate movements of the waist and the hips. If you are having trouble with this, stand with your hips against a counter or against the back of a chair. This will help you learn how to turn your waist without turning your hips.
Now that you know what it feels like, start to pay attention during your forms. You can easily figure out how to apply this type of movement whenever it is needed.
© 2013 Eric Borreson