Dear Friends,

From time to time I will be writing my thoughts on issues or situations that had helped shape the way that I do T’ai Chi. Here I will concentrate on leverage. This physical phenomenon cannot be adapted to self-defense without the help of the famous T’ai Chi principles. Let me try to explain. When one sees a person that is very strong and heavy one tends to assume that it cannot be moved. The fact is that without the knowledge of how to find his own center of gravity and how to use the body structure to transfer all that weight into the ground they will have no root and will be relatively easy to move.

Now I realize that in using leverage correctly there are other aspects like peng, embryo breathing, relaxation, suppleness in one body movements, concentration on the mental rather than the physical, correct technique etc.

But I think that leverage can make the execution of all the other principles a whole lot easier. In my humble opinion it is the integration of these physical, mental and spiritual techniques that will allow you to express energy more efficiently to the point that some people can make it look magical.

I teach T’ai chi in a place were Aikido, Ju Jitsu and Judo form part of the daily scene and again leverage is at its finest here. Methods change from style to style but even if you are lying on your back a technique with good leverage can save you.

  • Avoid extensions. This will give you leverage.
  • Move as one unit.
  • Always keep Zhong Ding or central equilibrium.
  • When your technique has become good concentrate on the mental so you can listen better. This will give you leverage.
  • Let your weight drop by not tensing too much the upper body.
  • The closer you get to your opponent the more leverage on the counter to his technique.
  • Try to understand where to move the fulcrum of your techniques.
  • Strive to understand your opponent centerline as it relates to yours.
  • Never offer too much resistance or wet noodle the techniques either. Instead blend with the techniques always expressing peng. Timing and breathing will do the rest.

Each one of these points has different levels of understanding and refinement.

Sifu Scott Bray A.P.

Board certified Acupuncturist

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