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Getting the sequence right – in Tai Chi as in Life

My kids can’t/won’t have their breakfast, brush their teeth, get dressed, go to school in the morning until I have done their breakfast first – it is a time honoured sequence – there are many occasions in life where one action or outcome depends on a defined sequence like making a cup of tea. In my golf I find that the ball does not go where I want it to unless I prepare in a particular sequence then hit it – if I omit part of the sequence then it does not do what I would like. If I decide to have a shower and get myself dressed first in the morning then I am late doing the breakfast and the kids are potentially late for school, if you do not boil the kettle first then you have only cold tea. We can of course multi-task – but that simply involves juggling a number of parallel sequential processes – we still end up constrained by the length of the longest sequence – check out Critical Path Analysis.

So far so obvious – but look around and check just how basic this is – whether or not time exists in the quantum world – here in the macro world it certainly involves one thing happening after another – likewise in Tai Chi.

You cannot crack a whip without first moving the handle then sequentially each and every part of the whip one after the previous one – each building on the movement of the last to accelerate the next until finally the very tip is moving at the speed of sound – your relatively slow hand movement of the whip has been transformed into supersonic speed. Consider then if we work backwards from the handle to the hand and arm into the body to the centre and even further down our legs to the ground. Now let us travel backward – surely the force of the whip is rooted on/in the ground by our feet which are stationary, with the force itself initiated by the movement of our centre and augmented in the legs controlled and directed by the centre then transmitted sequentially out through each segment of the body, all the way down the arm where it initiates the movement of the whip itself. Our body has become a part of the whip – and infact works like the whip. Similarly with a weapon or a golf club – so we can say that the Chi is projected down the weapon or  club to the tip or the head where it gets transferred to our opponent – or ideally the ball.

It is this movement which gives us the feeling of connectedness and fluidity – derived from the way each segment interacts with its neighbour and as with the whip any stiffness inhibits that interaction – we can say that “the Chi is blocked”. So we relax the stiffness, then we can move from the centre to initiate the power so that it can move outward in a fluid segmentally sequential movement. Indeed everything moves together – from the centre to the feet and from the centre to the finger tips.

If we get the sequence right then as with the whip we can create great speed and power in what looks like a very simple way. So perhaps in life – get the sequence right and life can be simple?

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