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Silence can be reached by moving slowly

When we move so slowly that we don’t have to continually anticipate the step or movement coming up, then we can luxuriate in relatively large gaps in the turbulent stream of consciousness. During long, slow transitions between full frames in the form the mind takes breaks, and during these moments chi can be drawn out of the deep and brought to the forefront of awareness. The mind eventually learns to balance the senses and expand the silence. It begins to take longer breaks from discursive thoughts, and then, during these interruptions in confusion, the chi radiates freely in the silence.

Slow motion balances

Beside the meditative and energetic advantages of ultra slow training, the body’s balancing mechanism gets a real workout and our empty steps become sure. Slow motion form practice defines the postural alignment from which steps originate and finish.

Long ago, a martial master (maybe Cheng San Feng) slowed parts of his martial forms down to create Tai Chi. He must have known that fast and chaotic training is counter- productive.

“Fast action when learning is strenuous, leads to confusion, and makes the learning unpleasant and unnecessarily tiring… " “Slowness is necessary for the discovery of the parasitic, superfluous execution and its partial elimination…” --Moshe Feldenkrais.

Slow form practice, if done correctly, is the best way to find and eliminate the impurities in a movement. “Parasitic execution” refers to the extra, unnecessary add- on movements that suck the life out of our martial forms. Add-on parasites such as hitches, leanings, and wind-ups that attach themselves to a movement, leech power, speed, and efficiency from its intended use, and seriously compromise a movement’s efficiency, drastically wasting chi.

If Cheng San Feng hadn’t had the prophetic, revolutionary realization about the benefits of slow training, there wouldn’t be tai chi, and although many modern practitioners go slowly they’ve missed a very important lesson. The purpose of slow training is to learn to move with near- miraculous speed.

When moving quickly, we can plunge into a movement without balancing on one foot, but not when moving slowly. When stepping very slowly, balance must be impeccable to keep the foot flat, the ankle stable, and the posture upright. The slow, empty step reaches out in such a way that it can be easily retracted if the floor falls away. The best way to judge the empty step is by monitoring how much the ankle of the weighted foot wobbles while slowly stepping. The purpose of perfecting balance is to learn how to move quickly between fixed, balanced points.


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