Greetings. We have spent a lot of time looking at standing. Now let’s examine the proper way to step. It takes a lot of training to move from one place to another using Tai Chi principles. Now here again, there is always room for difference of opinion. I speak from my own experience.
Once one feels balanced and strong on two legs through standing meditation work, the next thing to do is feel strong and balanced when stepping. We will spend several days working with this.
In the Yang form, after the initial opening, Commencement of Tai Chi Chuan, one steps for the next movement, which in my form is called “Ward Off Left”. No matter the name, the process is basically the same. In order to step ahead with one foot, one has to go through a careful process to insure one remains balanced, strong, relaxed, open to any response from a partner (opponent). Let’s look.
First of all, one must set one’s intention. What am I doing with this movement? Remember that all Tai Chi movements have three parts — make contact (gather), control, and return the energy (release). You must know how you make contact. Is it with the back of my hand or the front, or the forearm? Important to remember is that in Tai Chi, we never move unless there is a reason. When I start to move I am vulnerable to losing balance. I compare this to the siege of a castle.
When I am in the castle, I am safe. I have protecting walls and everything I might need to stay safe. Only when I am forced to leave the safety of the walls am I exposed and open to attack. The opponent tries to make me come out. If I do, I can attack them but I am open to counterattack.
So in all Tai Chi movements, I start inside the walls, then when the opponent attacks me, I move out to deal with the threat. Finally I counter attack. This process is called neutralize, control, attack, or as I sometimes say ‘Ready, Aim, Fire”. Three parts. Let’s look closer at the exact process tomorrow.