In addition to basic body mechanics and math, it’s important to understand the physics of Tai Chi. Ultimately Tai Chi was created to teach a defender how to master the energy from the ground and the energy from an opponent without hurting themselves or their opponent. This knowledge of how and why the body works as a machine is essential to practicing Yang Style 24 Form Tai Chi.
The human body as a machine
Some of these are more obvious than others. Imagine how the human body can function as a pulley or a wedge. The wheel and axle, wedge, and lever are obvious analogies for the human body; but the pulley, inclined plane, and the screw are different. aspects of each of these machines are possible in the human body doing Yang form Tai Chi. They are also examples of the human body responding to the world.
Why the simple machines matter
Imagine a ballet dancer who spins their body, drops to the ground, lunges into the arms of another dancer. That dancer catches the other dancer, spins and deposits the body of the other dancer safely to the stage again. This is the human body reduced to the six simple machines.
- The dancer spins (screw)
- The dancer leaps (inclined plane and lever)
- The dancer moves into the body of the other dancer (lever, wedge)
- The other dancer turns with the body and force of the other dancer (Wheel and axle)
- The dancer is returned to the original position (pulley)
- These actions all occur in Tai Chi. You must be prepared to think about the volume of air around you – and the imaginary opponent that you are reacting to
It will help you to learn Tai Chi if you think about your body as a series of simple machines. When you extend be the lever. When you balance be the wedge; it can force things apart or it can be a fulcrum. When you turn be the screw. Rotate your perspective and you are a wheel and axle. Imagine the missing opponent you are “battling” and every pull is a pulley – your opponent’s arm the rope your arms and hands are the pulley.
The transfer of energy
Energy and force at first blush may appear to be synonymous. They are not. Energy is a fundamental property of the universe, like gravity or inertia. Force is the application of Energy to do a specific amount of work:
- Force: F=m*a
- Work: W = ∫(c) F*ds
Thus it is the illusion that energy will appear- like clouds in the sky – in the mind and body of a Tai Chi practitioner. It will not and it can not. The human body is an antenna that channels energy through and around it. This is the Chi. The three phases of mastering chi are:
- The Tai Chi beginner is always convinced that the source of power will come from the body itself. They are deluded.
- The Tai Chi intermediate is somewhat convinced that they know the source of power, but can influence it. They are mindful.
- The Tai Chi master knows they are at once both the power and the path and they seek balance through mindfulness and peace. They are at peace.
Woo woo section definitely physics but approaching metaphysics
The relationship between Intention, Action, and Impact
The body mind and spirit in Tai Chi is very important. It should be considered as you practice Tai Chi and it should be considered when you are not. Reason through this. Can you have a child with just one parent? Some of you will answer yes: Athena Parthenogensis who sprang from the side of Zeus immaculate and wise. Jesus Christ who was gifted to the virgin Mary. Mithras to the hydra in the sea. We KNOW that three is the magic number. Do you know how many chromosomes you have in your reproductive cells? the answer is 23. The male/female who you might mate with also has 23 [a prime number] see mathematics. Together they equal 46 chromosomes that are in EVERY non-meiotic cell in your body from snot to skin.. There are 22 chromosomes in each and every cell in your body that are coding proteins. 1 chromosome is an X or is a Y and that one cell determines your reproductive possibility and your external or internal plumbing. Wildly efficient.
What does this have to do with Physics you might ask? Every physics equation has three requirements:
- an actor (this is You)
- a response (the Ground)
- a result (the Universe)
So Tai Chi is the larger picture, It is NOT just you. It is the universe, the ground and your perception – working together.
Tai Chi is not about mastery
Do not mastery of the form for mastering energy. Energy has no master, just a path. Like water energy will flow where the simple machines allow it flow. Tai Chi is never about assault. It was designed (as all martial arts are) as a form of defense. But it is a passive defense. Tai Chi – the way of flowing water allows energy to transfer through and over. You are not punching; the ground is transferring energy THROUGH your body.
You cannot make the ground GIVE more energy if you are not also willing to TRANSFER more energy. You can only control the path, not the power. So don’t TRY to control all the variables.
The most important variable is the ability to respond.
The role of peace and balance in physics
Willing the mind and body to function in pursuit of peace. When the mind and body are in balance (See Mathematics) then the body and the environment will show you grace and peace. You can not make grace and peace flow, but you can be the vessel it will flow through.