Tai Chi that Isn't Tai Chi but Is Tai Chi
by Christopher Dow
Learning to do Tai Chi is a little like learning to ride a bicycle. In the beginning, you are unstable, you wobble back and forth, and your control is erratic. You make turns by using your arms to twist the handlebars. Your legs, which alternately pump with the ultimate single-weightedness, easily grow tired. And you have to learn to assume a sitting posture that allows your legs to perform the functions of continuous and alternate pushing (rotating yin and yang) while your upper body performs very different—mostly lateral or tangential—functions.
Over time, though, your legs strengthen, and your control of your balance improves. Eventually, you no longer use the handlebars to steer around corners, instead using the waist and torso to lean into and out of curves. Of course, Tai Chi discourages leaning, but the similarity here is that both Tai Chi and cycling rely on the waist to command the movement, and even in cycling, the leaning is from the base of the torso rather than being a floppiness at the waist.
And in the end, both activities become so thoroughly ingrained in your movement patterns that you don’t have to pay attention to the activity but can simply enjoy the ride—and maybe even learn to perform a few dance maneuvers.