Refining Empty Stepping
Learning properly and thoroughly to improve ourselves is a slow process. Each lesson builds on the next. Regularly, before we proceed further, we need to go back and review previous studies*. Not only will this refresh our memory, but old material will be seen from a new perspective. Not as a new beginner, but as a seasoned student who has made advancements through the experiences of taking weekly class and daily home practice.
Empty Stepping is a gateway exercise to understanding Tai Chi (Yinyang) theory.
As bipedal humans, we use our two legs to walk. In practice, we must strive to be very clear about the Yinyang relationships between the two legs.
- If we stand 100% supported on one leg (Full – Yang), the other leg is supporting 0% (Empty – yin).
- If we are supporting ourselves using two legs, there is a clear discernible percentage each leg is being used to support the body, that if done correctly, equals 100% and no imbalance is generated.
If our stability is unwavering and constant, then we can say there is “stillness in motion”.
- In walking forward, the back leg is used to shift the Center forward, and in walking backward, the front leg is used to shift the Center backward.
- As one leg is used to express energy and move the body, simultaneously the other leg is storing the received energy potential. This is why Tai Chi Chuan is called Long Fist Kung Fu. Just like the ocean’s waves relentlessly crashing into the beach and then returning back into the sea, its power is without end.
- If we stand on one leg, it is Full and still like a mighty mountain, while at the same time the Empty stepping leg, moves effortlessly like a flowing great river.
- Once we make contact with the empty foot and begin to shift, the transformation begins. The Empty leg fills and becomes the mountain, while simultaneously the full leg empties, becoming the new stepping leg. It is a paradox. We are still and moving at the same time.
*Just like taking courses in university, Tai Chi Chuan students should keep a training diary, which contains technical notes, diagrams, personal thoughts gleaned from each week’s lesson. What eventually results is a book called a 秘笈 Miji – Secret book. Have you ever seen the book, “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” by Bruce Lee? This was never meant to be published for the public, but as a result of Mr. Lee’s untimely death, his personal notebook was released.