Baby Steps

I must admit I have a love-hate relationship with Dynamic Balancing Tai Chi. I hate blogspot. It won’t show up in English for me because I have a hostname indicating I am in China. So I can’t comment. Sigh.

Anyways, I often both agree and disagree with DBTC’s articles, and Stepping for No Reason is a great example. I found it interesting, yet hopelessly ambiguous. If that was intentional, to make me think, then it worked – but it’s still a little annoying 😉

To be honest i’ve been thinking about stepping methods a lot recently so the article tripped a nerve. When I learned 24 step taiji (a ‘wushu’ style), we started with stepping methods. Xing Yan-Ling in her excellent book “T’ai Chi Ch’uan: The Basic Exercises” contains a run down of the type of stepping we performed. I might also note that Chen Zheng-Lei in his DVD “Chen-style Taiji Quan New Frame Routine I” advocates a very similar stepping training methodology.

Why is proper stepping so important? I think i’ll let the Wu style guys field this question. Steven Hwa has an excellent youtube video “Internal Discipline in Tai Chi Walk”, explaining why stepping is such an important basic training. Let’s take a look:

I found what Steven Hwa says at 9:05 (2 minutes from the end) to be especially relevant:

The reason that taiji wants to take a step like this is because if you don’t, if you take a step like a normal person…for a fraction of a second, you lost control of your body. You’re falling forward. Gravity gets hold of you falling forward. At that moment, if you got hit, you’ll be gone. You’re not stable. You’re not under control of your body.

So I guess I can come to terms with the slightly ambiguous article by considering it just another way of warning new players to mind their root. This all can be placed under the umbrella of sinking in transition, which is a stage of progress within various exercises (step training, forms, push hands) where you have mastered the step and do not float when you step as demonstrated by Steven Hwa.

So let’s return to their article. What is a purposeless step? It is a step done without the benefit of training, as discussed above. Now I am not saying that we all need to start doing Wu style, or 24 step Yang style, for example. Of course… every school has their own unique method of training root, and training stepping. Right? Take your school for example. I’m sure your style or school has their own method for teaching these skills.

I mean.. your school does teach you how step.. doesn’t it?

Hmm. Interesting.

Sticking with the Wu vibe, while I was studying under Eddie Wu (Laoshi), he and his assistant instructors placed great emphasis on the stepping method and in conjunction with hip rotation. I just saw this great video from an Eddue Wu, Kwong-Yu seminar and I thought I would include it as a closing comment to tie everything together. It’s a really nice video and it makes me miss Wu style, just a little 😉 It explains from another standpoint why proper stepping (stance, or zhuang in chinese) is so important in Tai Chi. So let me close with a great quote from the start of his video: “Talk is Cheap.. put your money where your mouth is.” -Eddie Wu

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3 Responses

  1. I read follow up blog and it make sense to me.

  2. I recommend that you read DBTC website, not the blog. It is much more thorough, and says quite clearly that it is for beginners and not aiming to teach tai chi. Man seems also to be most unorthodox in my opinion but has a pretty deep grasp of things.

    Renli responds: I agree 🙂

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