QA: Tai Chi Ball

Q: I have what I hope is a quick and easy question for you.  I see that you and Ted are fans of tai chi ball training.  What advice would you have on the kind of ball one should use for starting out and then as one progresses as far as weight, size and material (e.g. wood, basketball, medicine ball, etc.) to achieve positive results.  Thanks.  ~S.S.

A: Of course, in the old days, they used medium weight wooden carved balls. My suggestion is to have a range; for instance, I have a small, 4 inch ball that is soft and weighted, almost like a sandbag, for hand flowers. And I have an 8 inch ball that is hollow, but also an eight inch weighted one.

One of the old exercises has a heavy ball, like a bowling ball, on a tabletop, which you roll around with your forearm.  A basketball is an excellent size for the bigger ball, especially against a wall. There are lots of ways to go.
Hope this helps,

R: Thanks Ted.  BTW, your sites have lots of great info, articles and updates so thanks for compiling all of it.
Good info re: types of balls to use for training.  I’ll look to play with a few types and sizes as you suggest and I will go on the basis that the material is not as important as size and weight to match the exercise.  I have read that the wood ones are more for ‘chi’ focused exercises and that other materials are ‘less conducive’ for that aspect; but, if looking to (1) work on what my teacher calls Zhong Wen (central equilibrium) exercises, (2) if focusing on roundness/circle practice or (3) for stretching and/or table rolling, I would take it from your note that any suitable ball regardless of material would work.  Very helpful info… I am glad that I asked you and that I don’t need to overthink this. Thanks again!  ~S

Plum has many great DVDs and VCDs on Tai Chi Ball training, and we have written a lot about it, but one of our favorite resources is something that, for some reason, we neglected to post earlier. It is a short video from one of our regular correspondents, Gary Shapiro, a physical therapist and longtime Tai Chi practitioner. He generously filmed himself playing with the Tai Chi ball in a spontaneous session. We couldn’t say it better ourselves!

(video may take a minute to load; and if you have any problems with the video, let us know!)


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