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Those slightly bent joints you see… there’s a good reason for them

February 12, 2018

Soft soft soft, I said soft.

How many times did I hear this from my first sensei.  A hundred, a thousand, a million.  The actual number does not matter.  Lets just say it was a constant reminder.

But soft what?  I thought Tai Chi was martial arts based.  What was up with this softness thing.

Well, it turned out that the softness was the key to success in learning the forms, not only for Tai Chi but especially for Qigong.

  • soft knees for stance
  • soft joints
  • softness of movement
  • softness of attitude

This was not easy to learn for someone with racing mind and a bit of perfectionist attitude in wanting to learn this stuff and get it right.

However, now that I teach it is one of my favorite saying also.

Soft soft soft soft

How does softness manifest?  In slightly bent elbows, slight bends to the knees, relaxed fingers, an internal smile instead of a glare and hard set jaw turns to slightly parted lips. Your overall attitude softens and you gain a gentler attitude.

You see, Qi does not like locked, hard,  stiff or tense.  Qi likes to flow, and needs to flow to be effective.

In a locked body, it is bound. Locked joints are stop signs. Tense muscles, fascia, ligaments and so on are roadblocks.  When they loosen, your blood can flow, carrying the Qi along with it.

In so many students I see what I used to see, or feel in myself.  Trying to hard, which in turn creates tension.

It seems the big stretch is also a common error.  “If I stretch it out to the max it will be better right?”

Nope,  sorry.  Cut that back to 70 percent of your full range and your on target.  Remember, soft,

But what about the flexibility.  How will   70 percent of my range of motion help that happen. 

Think about it.  Soft muscles stretch more than tight.  So as your practice, the 100 percent will grow,  allowing your 70 percent to grow along with it.  Everything increases including the ability to avoid injury due to overstretching.

Give the soft approach a try.  The next time you do an overhead stretch leave a little behind by keeping the elbows soft and unlocked.  Try to incorporate the idea in all your movements. Your body will thank you.

To your wellness,

Stan

 

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