As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once told us, “A huge tree is grown from a small bud; a nine-storey high tower started as a small pile of dirt; a journey of a thousand miles begins with the right first step.”
Lao Tzu’s wisdom is directly applicable to Tai Chi. It is hard to do Tai Chi well without the right step of your feet. In Chinese, we say, “if you want get your Tai Chi right, you must relax from your head to your toe.”
If you want have a relaxed foot, you must relax all your toes at once. When you are doing a movement such as Brush Knee or Repulse Monkey, you need to transfer your weight in the right way. You need to apply your Ying (empty energy) and Yang (solid energy) to your feet. This means shifting your body weight from one foot to the other. Because your body weight is substantial (100 - 200lbs), you need to transfer your weight slowly, but definitively. As you shift your weight, you will need to use the Plus and Minus Method.
The Plus and Minus Method means when you release (or subtract), for example, 2 pounds of weight from the right foot, then you should receive (or add) the same amount of weight to the left foot. There shouldn’t be any extra weight remaining in-between. Extra weight in-between may cause you to hurt your knee or you will be double weighted (lifting weights). Once you have transferred all your weight to one foot slowly - which means one foot has become solid - then this solid foot should feel rooted like a tree grabbing deep into the earth. When you are well-rooted, your body forms one line vertical to ground, and your head supports the sky. Now your form has a good structure and has become stable.
When we talk about Tai Chi, we always return to many of the same principles: Empty and Solid, Ying and Yang, Double Weight, Advance and Retreat, Left and Right, Balancing, Rooting, Centering. All these terms above are related to our feet. To get our Tai Chi right, we need to start from our feet and start our thousand-mile Tai Chi journey with that single, solid step.
copyright 2010 Huan's Tai Chi