Friday, December 28, 2012

Classical Wu Tai Chi Silk Reeling (Quarter Body Move)

 Silk-reeling exercise is really about taking a small segment of the Tai Chi form and converting it to a symmetrical/continuous movement.  One then can concentrate on practicing just those few movements. This is of course different than practicing the Tai Chi form which as we know is huge in scope. So then we have reduced things to a very simple motion and can just work on that. This concentration is really concerned with the kernel of the movement and goes to the heart of it which is the internal.

So these are not easy and some of them are extremely advanced.  Talking of these movements we see that practitioners in old times did not begin silk reeling until after about 10 years of experience.  Now however and in consideration of improved teaching methods we  can teach beginners and see that people do get it and enjoy it.  It is quite convincing that anyone you want to teach can incorporate this as part of the teaching program. This incorporation can be in parallel to the teaching of the Tai Chi form so this can maintain the interest of the students.

A movement which is considered the most advanced but is really quite simple to learn is moving the hand in conjunction with the body.  The hand becomes a slave of the movement of the body and does not move independently.  With either the right or left arm hanging down at the side you slightly stretch it down at the shoulder.  I repeat "slightly" for you do not want to bend the body itself as you stretch.  One can concentrate on the elbow and slightly stretch at the shoulder as you do this.  Then you move the body on the right or left side to move the arm.  Ask yourself if you feel the connection between the arm and the abdomen at this point.

There is a common mistake which occurs when that movement is taught.  This mistake occurs when students start bending the arm at the elbow.  Once the elbow is bent, you immediately lose the connection between abdomen and arm.  This loss of connection occurs because your concentration goes to the forearm instead of to the body.  So the whole arm has to move like a unit and not bend at the elbow. In observing students try this,  one also sees them angling the arm across the front of the body from right to left side or left to right side.  You should try to keep the arm moving straight ahead and not across your front.  Other mistakes I observe are students drooping the engaged shoulder, sometimes drooping one entire side of the body and even cocking their head down as well.  If you observe the students in this Youtube video you will see what I mean as well as what to avoid.

  • Do not bring arm across the body
  • Do not bend the elbow
  • Do not scrunch up the chest, this is using the pectoral muscles, not the abdominal
  • Do not drop the shoulder so much that you droop the body or cock the head and neck

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