Tuesday, April 6, 2010

6 Principles to Stepping Like a Cat

As we all know, Tai Chi is distinguished by the separation of weight. Single-weightiness is one of the fundamental principles of Tai Chi. In Tai Chi, moving in a single-weighted way is often referred to as “walking like a cat,” stepping carefully and softly so that if there were danger you would be able to take that foot back instantly. This means when you step down, your movements are slow and precise, but also quiet. The whole move should be done silently. No noise should be heard. Stepping like a cat requires understanding of the following 6 principles:

1. Don’t double your weight. You must support your entire weight on a single, full leg that is properly rooted. If both legs use energy at the same time you are double-weighted. The double-weighted posture in Tai Chi is the beginner’s most forbidden fault. Double-weight will make it hard to put down your leg as well.

2. Keep your body vertical. If your body is leaning forward or backward, it’s easy to let all of your body weight fall into your steps, causing you to stomp loudly as you walk.

3. Relax your waist and loosen your hips. Relaxing your waist and loosening your hips will make it easier to put down your foot gracefully and softly.

4. Sink first. You need to sink down low first and reach your whole leg out, either forward or back, before putting weight onto that foot. This way you don’t suddenly plunk your weight into your legs and feet. Your feet should never suddenly drop to the ground. Rather, you should reach your leg out slowly until your foot touches the ground.

5. Put your heel down first. Put the heel down first and then the whole foot to better transfer the weight little by little. Imagine you are putting your foot down on thin ice and you don’t want break the ice.
6. Step into a stable stance. If you have your foot position wrong, then you are not balanced and can’t transfer your weight smoothly. Make sure you have the right position in mind before you put down your foot.

All the 6 principles above teach you how to have control of every process of lifting, moving, and putting down your leg and foot. While applying these 6 principles, you must also pay attention to the whole body relaxation. Only when your whole body is relaxed, can you have Qi (Energy) flowing around. When you use Yi (Concentration) to control Qi in your body, then your body will not feel like a stone falling down with every step. Your body should feel like a balloon gently floating up and down. That’s the feeling we need in order to step like a cat.

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi 2010

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