We here in the Pacific Northwest have been experiencing a heat wave – into the 90’s in Seattle – while we in Port Townsend are in the mid to lower 70’s. Perfect weather to play Tai Chi in the Park. Lots of boats sailing in the waters right in front of us, while the snow covered Mt.Baker looms in the background. As beautiful as Chetzemoka Park is, not that many people use it, especially in the cooler months. I was just sharing with some visitors from Ukraine that our group has been meeting every Saturday here for the last 37 years! All people, beginners, or students of other styles, are welcome to join us and enjoy the warm feelings we get from exploring Tai Chi together.
This morning, we worked with the idea of taking a three count when stepping. One is raising the stepping foot by using the center (kua) to pull the leg up. Two the leg takes its time to get into the new orientation, by opening the hip. Three is stepping down, touching the heel. Then shift the weight.
You probably say “Of course. That is how I always step.” And it hopefully is. But I see lots of Tai Chi players swing their leg when stepping, especially when changing directions by 45 degrees or more, like going from Repulse Monkey to Slanting Flying. It is so much more beneficial for strength, balance, meditative mood to take a little more time during the stepping process. “Pull up, open up, step down with the heel.” Don’t move the body weight off the standing leg until the heel touches. One of my pet peeves is to watch people “fall” onto the foot when stepping.
So take your time. Enjoy the transition from one movement to another. It’s not just the end that is important. It is the voyage of getting there. And speaking of voyage, the summer time is the time most people travel. Be sure to practice your forms in different places and notice how the environment influences your form. It is fun, informative, and who knows, you might change someones’s life by turning them onto our beloved art.