Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 264
What and Why
Tai Chi is many things to many people. One of the main benefits of study and practice of this art is the unity of mind and body. Every instructor I have met has a slightly different approach to what Tai Chi is, and that makes Tai Chi so interesting. It is not like math where 2 plus 2 equals 4. Everybody agrees with that. But what Tai Chi is, almost nobody agrees. Let me give you an example: withdrawing and changing which foot is forward.
This is one of the fundamental movements of Tai Chi form. For instance, you have the right side of the body leading (right foot bow stance) and you want to change so that the left side of the body is forward. How to do this. You shift the weight back onto the left leg (left foot sit stance), withdraw the right leg and replace it, then step forward with the left foot, and shift the weight onto the left foot (left foot bow stance). Easier to do than to write about.
What I’ve been thinking about this week is how to lift the forward foot in order to replace it in a different place and step forward the other foot. Most people don’t pay much attention to this little detail. Here is my take.
Every part of every move in Tai Chi is dependent upon the application. That should be the one of the first things you learn, so that you start to understand that you are pantomiming real movements. You then learn how to make this happen in accordance with the Tai Chi principles. Even the withdrawing of the foot has to be understood in the martial context.
There are three ways I do this action:
1. I sit back, then roll up onto the forward heel, lift the foot up, and replace it.
2. I sit back, roll up onto the toe of the forward foot, then lift the foot up and replace it.
3. I sit back, and just lift the forward foot without rolling onto the heel or toe.
As I said the reason for these differences is application.
In #1, the heel can stay on the ground for moves when I am walking forward (Brush Knee section) or when I might be pulled forward. Leg is straight. Can’t kick from this place.
In #2, Knee is slightly bent as you roll up on to the toe making kicking easy.
In #3, This is used when I have to get quickly back. Get the forward leg out of the way so it won’t get attacked, especially when stepping back or drawing the opponent towards your body – (Repulse Monkey, Raise Hands).
Go through your form and notice how and when you do an action, and see if you know why.