TAI Chi is the art of balance and the ability to stay balanced is one the key skills we consistently work on in our training.
It’s funny, because often when I talk to people about balance, it is as if they simply imagine this concept to be accurately represented by a hazardous tottering on one leg.
This is frequently accompanied by the assertion they wouldn’t be able to do Tai Chi because they just can’t balance.
Everybody has the ability to stay balanced to varying degrees and of course, balance refers to much more than just standing on one leg.
The ability to walk on two legs for example, is an incredible evolutionary achievement which comprises a profound balancing act that relates through the whole body and mind from head to toe.
However, we rarely appreciate it.
So for the many people who say they simply just cannot stand on one leg, I like to point out that every time we get up off the sofa and take a single step, we are in fact balancing, albeit briefly, on one leg.
Improving balance just takes ongoing practice and a clearer understanding of what the term refers to can really help mix things up in a beneficial way.
In my Tai Chi training and teaching, the phrase ‘stay balanced’ is quite an umbrella term; we want to promote a balanced, progressive relationship between all the aspects and attributes of our physical and mental world: thinking and feeling, stability and mobility, movement and stillness, slow and fast, tension and relaxation, control and letting go. If we focus upon one attribute too much, we sacrifice something else and start to become less balanced.
In our culture, we can observe a vast imbalance between mind and body.
Mental activity dominates everything we do and our down-to-earth sense perception takes a distinct back seat.
Even when we take up a more holistic exercise, it’s easy to retain our mentally dominant approach and continually try to force ourselves to practise with significant incongruence between what’s happening in our mind and the more accurate, real-time experience of the body.
One of the best things about Tai Chi is that we address this mind/body imbalance distinctly because the first and most important skill we learn is to pay attention to what we are doing in the present moment, both physically and mentally.
This can form an ongoing and substantial challenge for most people, but what a superb challenge!
One of the many tools we use in Tai Chi to help develop a visceral experience of balance is a form of partner work known as pushing-hands.
There is quite a wide variety of exercises within the realm of pushing-hands training, ranging from the slow, gentle and cooperative to the more vigorous and assertive.
All have their place and pushing-hands as a whole constitutes a basic step in realising the self-defence side of Tai Chi which most people rarely consider.
I’m happy to say I will be running a pushing-hands weekend workshop on June 7 and 8, 10.30am-4.30pm, at the Newell Centre, Tozer Way, Chichester.
The fee for the weekend is £80.
We will learn and practise the Chen-style single and double-hand pushing-hands routines as well as simple martial applications.
Everything will be carried out slowly, safely and cooperatively and thus the workshop is suitable for all abilities.