Monday, February 20, 2012

Spiraling Energy, Torquing Knees

On Saturday, I went down to Santa Cruz to drop in on the Santa Cruz Tai Chi folks once again. It was a good time - in the Short Form class, we went over step-up/deflect/intercept/punch and needle at the sea bottom and in the push hands class I got to push with some of the guys I hadn't pushed with before, including Mark, the instructor.

One of the questions that has been bothering me as I try to understand the differences in my two schools has been the notion of spiraling energy. When I originally learned about it in New York, I thought that the spiraling energy was a twisting in my legs, so I would try to twist my foot somewhat as I sunk into it.

At TToPA, one of the major principles they teach - repeated over and over - is that the knees always stay in line with the toes as it moves so, as you sink into your feet, there is no torquing of the knee. This has eliminated most of the knee pain I used to feel when I did Taiji (I have some pain because I still torque my knees somewhat due to bad habits that I'm working to eliminate).

As I have practiced the Short Form on my own, I have modified the way I do it so that I sink into the leg rather than twist and it has worked out pretty well. In class on Saturday, Mark spoke of the spiraling energy but, as I watched him and his senior students doing the form, they weren't torquing their knees and, in fact, were doing it pretty much the same way I was. It seems I had misunderstood this from the beginning. Spiraling energy is internal and I was trying to force it externally.

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