Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 430
Watering the Garden
I was watering plants in my garden recently and had this Ah-Ha moment about Tai Chi. There is a very large container holding a 75 year old Maple tree. In order to water it thoroughly, I take off the sprayer head attached to the hose, and let the full, smooth force of the water flood the container. I don’t want to disturb the soil in the container.
There is another small tree that is too far away to be able to flood, so I put the sprayer back on, choose a setting that sprays the water in a smallish, more concentrated stream, and water that way. I do this weekly, but this week was the first time I had this thought – the hose is like my bodies energy system.
When I relax, my blood vessels and my chi system expand to allow the smooth flow. Usually the movements of Peng and Lu use this kind of “softish”energy. When I want to be firm or solid, I then squeeze the muscles which restricts the flow somewhat and the energy squirts and has more force in a smaller surface. Ghee (Press) is a more firm version of Peng, and An expresses the more firm example of Lu.
In Tai Chi practice, we are told to make a soft fist, like holding a small bird, or a rose, trying not to squeeze too hard. But if, one would strike with such a fist, the energy wouldn’t be focused, and the fist could be injured. So, at the moment of impact, the fist is squeezed tightly, which, like the sprayer head on my hose, forces the energy out in a small, concentrated stream.
I’m not saying to squeeze the muscles tight during practice. There are too many benefits from soft, open vessels, but we need to be realistic about how the body works and align ourselves with this knowledge to accomplish our goal. There is a time for soft and a time for firm.