You’ve probably seen the YouTube video that depicts a Tai Chi fight. Two guys in silk pajamas moving very, very slow to great comedic effect.
You can view it here.
While we’d never fight at that pace, in Tai Chi we do train at a slow, even, comfortable pace. The reasons for this are simple. Moving slowly, as we do our forms, qigong or push hands, allows us to totally relax, while being fully present and in the moment of the movement. Moving at this pace magnifies our mistakes. Mistakes in posture, balance, breathing, intent and focus.
When we move, whether we’re punching, striking, blocking or throwing, we should move using the entire body working as a single unit. Throwing a punch as we’re stepping forward while we’re turning our waist as we extend the arm and fist toward our target is much more powerful than just extending the arm and fist. Moving at this Tai Chi pace allows us to work on our timing of the movement so as we start to move, the whole body moves and when the whole body stops, we land the punch through the intended target.
Once we gain some proficiency working at a slow pace, we start adding some speed and power to our movements while remaining relaxed, focused, balanced and not add any tension in the body. This makes for very devastating punches, strikes, throws and blocks.
How does this help us in our daily life you ask? Most people spend their day rushing around from one errand to another or from one meeting to another. Rushing to get to work. Rushing to eat lunch. Rushing to get home after a long day. Rush, rush, rush!
Our Tai Chi practice offers us a balance. The ability to slow down as we move is the counterbalance to our work-a-day routine. After continued practice, we start to look forward to these little respites. Eventually we find that we can be at peace and balanced even during our hectic, busy days.
And that is the power of Tai Chi. Being calm, relaxed and peaceful in the midst of the chaos that is around us.