Could This ONE Tai Chi Move Save Your Client’s Life?
(this is the fourth guest blog post in a series on Tai Chi)
Let’s discuss how Tai Chi can help your clients in their everyday lives. There is a move in the form called Kick, Smash and Box the Ears. It’s deliciously violent! But more than that, it actually helps your clients understand how to balance and avoid common falls with simple tripping obstacles.
Here is the move in the form:
Your weight must be completely on one side in order for you to kick and then hold the knee up to smash, and then control your step down to box the ears. This is great practice for learning the concept of substantial and insubstantial. It is great to start with just stepping side to side. Then step side to side and lift the knee. Then step side to side, left the knee and kick. If you are kicking with your left leg, extend your left arm out over your leg and bring your right hand up to block. Then step side to side, lift the knee, kick, smash and box the ears. Remember there is a head between your fists when you box the ears, so don’t allow the fists to come together.
How can you possibly apply this to your client’s everyday life? Hopefully, they are not fighting someone where they need to kick them and then box their ears!
Well, think about your client in a parking lot with the concrete markers at the foot of the parking space. How many times have people tripped on these concrete barriers? Lots of times! And amazingly, Kick, Smash and Box the Ears will help them so they don’t have to worry about tripping over any barriers again.
When you teach this move, it is important to let your clients know that the height of the kick is not important. The crucial part is that they are balanced as they lift their leg.
And then they need to understand how to move from the Dan Tian. The Dan Tian is two inches in from the belly button and two inches down. It is the center of energy in Tai Chi. It is also the center of balance from a traditional exercise physiology viewpoint.
You cannot just fall over your forward foot. That increases your chances of falling. You must learn to lower your center of gravity and move from your Dan Tian. This incorporates the central principle of being rooted and grounded in Tai Chi. Your focus is not your upper body, but rather your core and being able to center yourself as you move.
Try this yourself before you attempt to explain it to your clients. Lift one leg and then lower it in front of you. Do you feel balanced? Or do you feel like everything is in front of you? Our natural inclination is to fall forward. Tai Chi teaches you to be rooted and grounded and to move from the core (the Dan Tian) which makes you much more balanced.
So let’s look at the parking lot example again. If your client can think about being rooted and grounded and to move from the Dan Tian, they will easily step over the barrier and not have to worry about tripping and falling. Tai Chi is not just a series of gentle, flowing movements. It actually helps your clients be more balanced and improves their everyday activities!
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Dianne Bailey is an experienced martial artist and Tai Chi instructor. She created the Open The Door to Tai Chi certification program so that more fitness professionals can quickly and easily learn how to integrate Tai Chi into their exercise programs to improve balance, strength and cognition with their older clients.