Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 449
I live in a community surrounded by water. We have a ferry that connects us to the longest island in the U.S. I ride this ferry on occasion and one day found it a source of Tai Chi enlightenment. Let me share it, as I think it will help you find more enjoyment, energy, and martial skill with this simple image.
The ferry is very large. It motors up to the dock, and when it wants to stop, I realized it didn’t have a breaking system. How did it stop itself without smashing into the dock? It used reverse thrusters. The gears or even the engine can go backwards, which moves the ferry in the opposite direction. So as it approaches the dock, the captain reverses direction, and with skill, the ferry stops just at the right spot. It is like magic.
Thinking about this, I realized I do, or should do, the same thing when playing Tai Chi. When moving from bow to sit stance, for instance, the rear leg is the engine driving the torso forward. The front leg is very mildly engaged, As the body approaches the half way point the front thrusters start to work harder, so that by the time I am all the way forward, the front leg is in control. If you think of the Tai Chi symbol, you notice that as the white side grows, the black side shrinks, and vice versa. If we are sitting on the right leg, energy is gathered into this leg and kua. The motor starts and we move forward. As we approach the forward (left foot bow), the left leg thrusters kick in and we gather the energy into the left leg and kua to stop us or set the body up for further movement either forward or backward.
The ferry is at the dock. When it wants to leave, it takes a lot of power it break the inertia and start to move. Once underway, it uses less engine power to move. As it approaches the new landing, it starts to apply more power again to stop it. The perfect Tai Chi symbol.
So what I’m saying is to engage both legs at all times, but one leg will be more active to get going, and the other will be more active to stop.
Now all this sounds much more complicated than it really is. Just pay attention to using the receiving leg to slow the movement. The receiving is really gathering energy into its kua area, but more on that later.