|Balancing the body
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Most people favour one side of their body. Usually the right hand side. Often the left side is woefully neglected and underused.
Left and right
There are many reasons to work both sides of the body equally e.g. even muscular development, wear & tear, ambidextrous body use, coordination, increased mobility, the ability to use the other hand in the event of an accident, versatility.
Favouring one side is foolish but common.
Front and back
Equally common is the tendency to think about the back and the front as though they weren't opposite sides of the same body. Front and back are related:
A weak back makes slouching more likely. Similarly, a huge stomach will draw the body forward and down. Shortening the abdominal muscles through forceful exercise causes the body to stoop.
Peering forward at a computer monitor or mobile phone makes the back bend unnaturally.
Upper and lower
People are frequently inclined to over-reach rather than step closer to an object. This is simply a lazy habit and can lead to injury. Instead of stepping, they stretch.
Stretching can be good - as a controlled exercise - but not in everyday life.
Mind and body
Gyms usually have pounding 'motivational' music. Runners wear headphones. The mind is not with the body. The music is being used to remove consciousness from the banality of the task at hand.
In terms of healthy body use this is not good. Diminished awareness can result in injury. It leads to poor skeletal alignment and poor sensitivity.
Qigong and tai chi exercise the body in a comprehensive way; favouring neither left, right, front, back, upper or lower. In this respect they offer a more balanced workout than mainstream exercise.
Tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing)
Tai chi training is far more demanding. The student must take everything they have learned and employ it in combat. The syllabus is extensive.
It offers elements that go way beyond qigong and tai chi...
Form enables the student to shift through a wide range of movements that provide the framework for functional day-to-day healthy body use.
Both sides of the body are employed in a varied, non-strenuous manner. Agile, careful stepping trains the student to step easily and naturally in a balanced, whole-body fashion.
New starters learn the form with the right hand dominating. Mirroring the form movements encourages ambidexterity; allowing the left hand to take turns being dominant.
Every aspect of the tai chi syllabus should be practiced with the right and left hand.
Partner work extends the benefits of form by creating scenarios that require the individual to maintain a high level of awareness during each activity.
Mind/body, right/left, front/back, upper/lower are all balanced. The mind is conscious and present throughout.
Weapons training involves solo and partnered work, drills and forms. The versatile range of physical challenges ensure that people remain focussed, aware and balanced at all times.
The student is required to compensate for the weight of the weapon by minutely adjusting the body.
Taoism is neither philosophy nor religion. It is ancient form of science based upon the observation of nature and adherence to the insights that are gained.
The principles and precepts are not theoretical. By moving in a tai chi way the student is putting Taoism into practice. Over time, the lessons acquired in class can be implemented in all aspects of life.
Harmony, tranquillity and balance are cultivated.
18 March 1997
Last updated 16 June 2023