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Tai Chi Challenge # 12 - the art of stepping in Tai Chi

To see an accomplished Tai Chi practitioner performing the form is to see the body aligned, relaxed and unified, the intention present and focused, all within a structure that seems to float above the ground, gravity has no purchase here… As students of the art, when practicing we often find ourselves mentally busy, physically uncoordinated and heavy. Every step seems to land with all our weight into the ground, rather than alighting like a butterfly. Yin and Yang must be clearly present in our movement, one of the simplest manifestations of this is our weighting. 100% of our body weight must be present in the standing leg while we step. To do otherwise would be to throw our body weight, hoping that our step will catch up before we eventually crash to the ground. That sounds pretty simple, stand on one leg, step with the other. Well, simple it may be, but easy? Challenge #12 We’re going to explore empty stepping. We’re going to forget about the form and just get stepping right. - Stand with right foot forwards, weight forwards as in Aun posture - Place hands on hips - Bending the knees, shift your weight backwards and forwards, remaining mindful that the hips must stay beneath the shoulders, no leaning. - Shift forwards until the back foot goes light and begins to lift from the floor but hasn’t yet. - Keeping the body stationary, step forwards - Repeat Focus on all the body weight filling the standing leg up before stepping begins. The body should be completely still as you step. If you wished, you could stop mid step and put the foot back in its original position without falling. Now repeat stepping backwards. Remember, no leaning. Once you’re happy with that, practice your form once more, how does it feel?

Ross Cousens



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