Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 286
Questions from Students
After my Tip on Elbow Sinking (Tip #267), I got a question from someone online. He asked: “
* I tried doing the exercise as you suggested, and it doesn’t seem to do anything. I don’t feel any different. Am I doing it wrong?”
My answer: Everybody’s body and energy system is different. You might naturally be sinking your elbows, so the exercise wouldn’t make any noticeable difference, as it would for a Tai Chi player who holds the elbows elevated. Try again, reading the instructions carefully, and if it doesn’t do anything, celebrate your natural ability, and practice to refine this skill.
*Should I eat before or after practicing Tai Chi?
There are many variables to this question. Is the practice morning or evening? Are you hungry before practice, or more hungry after? How much time between eating and practice? What is your level of Tai Chi proficiency? Is your practice meditative or active?
I am an early riser. I get up around 5 AM and have my first class at 9 AM so I plan ahead and eat at least 2 hours ahead of the class. Teaching takes a lot of energy. And food takes quite a while to digest, so plan ahead so you can exercise without fear of upset stomach.
If you do a meditative form in the morning, I would suggest a glass of juice or fruit, 30 minutes before practice. For more vigorous practice – weapons, partner work including push hands, I think a couple of hours before would be appropriate. If you feel your stomach upset after or during practice, lighten up what you eat, increase the time between eating and practice, or skip eating all together and plan to eat after the workout.
This question came after last weeks Random Tips.
*The only point I couldn’t fathom is no 10. If a snap kick is the one with the front of the foot,once you gather into the kua of the standing leg I can’t seem to understand how to release to the knee of the kicking leg. Would be very grateful if you could expand on this.
The most powerful energy is released from the body in Tai Chi practice by using gather and release and combining that with Duai La. For example, a punch with the right hand is magnified by a sharp pull back with the left hand. The same is true with snap kicks. When kicking with the right foot, the weight is gathered (compressed) into the left standing hip. At the same time, the right knee is raised till the upper leg is parallel to the floor. With your mind, connect the left Kua with the right knee. Then, as you press the left Kua energy downward with strong intention, the right knee snaps out. Snap kicks use the toes or the top of the foot. Thrust kicks use the ball or bottom of the foot.
Now let me ask you a few questions. Take your time to explore the answers that occur to you. The answers are for you. It will help your understanding and the learning of Tai Chi specifically, and Life in general. Enjoy. No pressure. If you write out your answers, keep it for later reference to see how your understanding changes over time.
1.What is the difference between Tai Chi and Tai Chi Chuan?
2.Why is the understanding of Yin and Yang important? Give some examples of both.
3.How are sitting, standing, and moving meditation different and similar?
4.Is Tai Chi a form of meditation? If so, how and why?
5.Why are there various Tai Chi Forms – Yang, Chen, Sun, etc. if they are all based on the same principles?
6.Most Tai Chi players nowadays are older. Why?
7.How do you feel about your Tai Chi progress? Where are your strengths and weaknesses?
8.What first interested you about Tai Chi? Does it still?
9.What part of your Tai Chi practice do you enjoy the most – physical, philosophical, spiritual?
10.How are Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan similar and different?
11.Each of us is unique. What special skills or talents do you possess? Not just in Tai Chi, but in life.