Monday, April 23, 2012

How the hip moves: Important!

In an article written by Sam Masich:

Here is another possible reason that the legs are mentioned in the classics and not
the hips. The hips should always move as a natural consequence of actions initiated
in the legs (not the torso). Since they (hips) have no mechanism by which to move in and of themselves, it is an error to think that we move from our hips. Like a tree being swayed by the wind, the hips are caused to move. An ignorance of this critical concept has left somepractitioners struggling for decades, trying to find root, fluidity and true stickingability.

The hips must allow movement. They must acquiesce to pressure, letting force, movement and energy transfer up, down, forward, backward and side to side. While the pressure may come from the opposite leg¹s driving force or from a partner¹s pushing, the hips themselves must remain receptive, passive and clear. 

We do not try to move the hips in relation to force but, like the axle of a wheel, allow
them to rotate as a matter of course. This is often described as folding the hip or kua.

Note:  Sam Masich is a much respected Internal Martial Artist. I have had the very good fortune to attend workshops held by Sam at the Tai Chi Farm.   

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Correct Knee Alignment

Hips, Shoulders and Knees

While in Tai Chi class you are constantly being reminded to keep your hips to the front,  your shoulders down and relaxed and your knees aligned over you feet.

When talking about the hips being front .. we are actually talking about the Pelvic Girdle which is loosely referred to as the Hip Region.  In fact the hips are joints and are meant to rotate and flex… but not meant to rotate if the corresponding leg is weight bearing.

When we say shoulders down and relaxed, we are actually talking about the shoulder region and most specifically the trapezoid muscles.

An example of the pelvic girdle and a hip joint rotating at the same time and root leg being properly aligned would be during the transition from White Crain Spreads it's Wings into Brush Left Knee.  During the transition, while the right leg stays rooted and special attention is paid to the right knee alignment, the upper body and hips ( pelvic girdle ) turn to the front and the left leg ( empty) turns inward.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Diaphragmatic Breathing & Balance Drill

Before starting any new exercise regimen, you should first consult with your personal physician

Basic Rules for all exercises:

  • There should be no pain. Thighs will be getting a serious work out .. but there should not be any pain in the JOINTS. If there is …. STOP
  • Knees are ALWAYS slightly bent and aligned ( over ) the foot ..
  • Feet should be the width of your shoulders.
  • When turning upper body ... try to keep HIPS from turning
  • Never hold your breath
DRILL 1 - Diaphragmatic Breathing

1. While sitting upright in a chair, lying down with knees bent or standing up .... Place the palms of both hands, fingers down and side by side, over your belly button...
2.  Very gently pull your belly in ... a little bit
3.  Inhale through your nose and allow belly to expand
4.  Exhale and gentle pull belly back in .... Gently ... Gently
Allow each breath to role into the next. Expanding belly on the INHALE ..... Gently contracting belly on the exhale. After a while transition to doing this exercise without using your hands. This is a great exercise to do before going to sleep. Stop exercise if you get light headed ... try to do all breathing through your nose.

DRILL 2 - Breathing with Movement for Balance, Strength, Focus & Functional Relaxation.  The Preparation, Right & Left

1. Start with feet in a narrow stance ( starting position ) side by side about a fist width apart ( Starting position )
2.  SLOWLY turn you upper body only to the left and shift Left.
3.  While you slowly turn your upper body back to the center .. and WITHOUT SHIFTING YOUR WEIGHT .. Step to the right with the right foot. Visualize there is a small soft ball in the middle of your foot. Slowly compress the entire ball into the floor until the edges of your foot are on the floor …. then slowly shift your weight so you are balanced equally Right and Left.
3.  Slowly turn you upper body (only) to the left and shift left
4.  Slowly turn your upper body to the front and while you are making this turn …. Slowly bring your right foot back in, about a fist width from the left foot, You are now in back to the starting position. All movements, shifts and steps are made during and throughout the turn of the body ( center ).. Hips/ pelvic area remains to the front

  • Inhale and Shift
  • Exhale and step
  • Inhale and Shift
All movements take place during an inhale or exhale. Your breath dictates the pace. You are constantly breathing, turning and stepping slowly under control … without ever holding your breath. Your weight bearing leg is your root ( with bent knee ) … that leg does not move.