my students receive instruction on the basics- posture, shape, verticality,
footwork, differentiation of yin and yang and substantial and insubstantial,
chan ssu chin or "reeling silk energy," total body movement, and
moving from the waist. I also work with them on applications in
order to build intent and deepen understanding. The amount and depth
of applications practice is tailored to the individual. For Janet,
a single mother and registered nurse, it has been kept fairly light-
her interest has been mostly health and learning the next move.
I have, however, insisted on correcting general problems, such as
leaning, double-weighting, and straightening the arms completely
at the conclusion of a posture.
Recently, Janet began moonlighting as a security guard at the Concord
Pavilion. Still, her interest in applications remained minimal.
This changed when I began drilling her on isolated movements from
the center standing position. Suddenly, with no transitions or cues
from the form, applications took on a whole new meaning. They became
the essence of how and why the movements were shaped the way they
were, and why any deviation from T'ai Chi principles weakened them.
For her, particularly, this meant paying attention to verticality.
A week ago, as of this writing, Motley Cru was playing at the Concord
Pavilion. Janet was asked to work. A lot of pyrotechnology was to
be used in the performance, in the stands as well as on stage. Janet's
job was to keep members of the audience from straying down a stairwell
leading to an area where devices had been set up.
could see trouble brewing as three young men above her whispered
amongst themselves while glancing in her direction. Finally the
biggest of the three - "He filled the whole aisle," according to
Janet - headed down the stairs towards her, followed by his two
had already called for backup, and two guards were posted behind
nearby walls. As the man approached, she placed her left foot on
the stair ahead of her and shifted most of her weight to her right
foot, where she felt comfortable and stable. Her back was straight
and her bones felt "stacked." She informed the shave-headed gentlemen
that the area beyond her was off limits for their own safety, but
as she watched the big fellow's eyes, she could see him making his
decision. She was ready.
At the time, she had absolutely no idea of what she was going to
do, and afterwards, she still did not know what she had done. All
she knew was that this behemoth charged with his arms up and she
moved, turning from her waist, flowing forward from her back leg
to her front, and he was down, hard, his two friends heading back
up the stairs as fast as they could run. She said that her first
thought was "I'm vertical!" Her second thought was how effortless,
how spontaneous it had been, and how she had moved forward all at
once, every part of her together. Her third thought, shared by the
other two guards as they emerged, was relishing the look of shock
on this bruiser's face.
Indeed, Janet had internalized the principles of T'ai Chi, but this
triumph was still the least of her rewards. When she began studying
with me, she was under regular medical care for lupus. Recently
she received the results of her latest blood test. When her doctor
came into the consulting office, she expected further instructions
on moderating her medications. Instead she was surprised to hear,
"Hmmm. It looks like you may have been misdiagnosed. You don't seem
to have lupus, or anything else, as far as I can tell."
Janet - both for conquering lupus and yourself.
Mann is a T'ai Chi instructor. He is also a certified Regenesis
teacher and practitioner. Regenesis is a unique method of balancing
human energy for self-healing purposes. Mr. Mann may be contacted
at (925) 689-6233.