Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 246
Year Number 5 For Tips
This Tip starts my 5th year of doing Monday Morning Tai Chi Tips. I’ve never missed one Monday! It has been a joy and challenge, and I look forward to many more years. The more I practice and teach, the more I discover with the help of students. Thank you for all your encouragement to keep going. I wish you the very best.
Yang’s Tai Chi 10 Essential Points
#7 – Unity of the Upper and Lower
This one seems quite obvious. Harmony is achieved when all parts of the body respond together. Yet there is a sequence that all Tai Chi movements go through to achieve the maximum results. I think that the unity of upper and lower body refers to the mind and body. Movements start with the mind reacting, then the outreach – making contact with the outside force – then neutralizing this force and rooting it. Then starts the return energy sequence which draws up the yin energy of the root, then the stored energy of the legs into the Kua (hip), then into the waist, spine, and into the arms.
All of this should be done in a natural sequence. And yet it is all dependent on the Intention of the mind. Am I outreaching to make contact, neutralizing the incoming force, allowing this incoming energy to drop down to the feet, and then back up the legs to the hip to the torso to the hands – like bouncing a ball. Am I getting out of the way if the force is too intense, or am I neutralizing by pulling using short or long energy, followed by push or press.
When we talk about unity, we don’t mean that the entire body moves a a solid block. The unity is expressed in doing an action in a natural way. If you want to pull, for instance, the legs push downward which makes the torso move. It doesn’t matter if you are pulling the partner towards you from the front, the rear, the side, or whether you want to pull down. In all cases, the torso moves first after the legs push down. Like when a horse is pulling a weight, the rope attached to the load is straight. For pulling, the horse is our torso, the arms are the rope.
Push requires the legs and arms to move together. The legs push down and the whole body moves forward at the same time. One common mistake that I see is the body moving first, then the arms finish after the body has moved forward. If the body is unified, the push down into the rear foot should result in the object moving.
The bottom line is the mind (don’t forget the body is actually the mind expressed on the physical plane), moves which moves the body. The more training one has, the more this unity of upper and lower, mind and body, yin and yang, happens together.