Monday, March 15, 2010

Wrists and Fingers!

[Path to Mastery 3/15/10 – Wk27 D1 (Str 9.12.09)(Ph2 11.15.09)]

Continuing our Tai-Chi Journey:

‘Squat (settle) Wrist Open (extend) Fingers’ is the name of today’s principle.

So last week you found out how your tailbone; your chest and back; and your shoulders and elbows were coming off of your Empty Spirit that had made your Summit Strong. The challenge today will be to show how your wrist and fingers are also connected to the crown of your head, or the ‘Empty Spirit Summit Strong’.

Typically the visualization for this principle is simple: Imagine that your finger tips are attached to a string that comes down to about your shoulder height and is secured to the ceiling. Then imagine that you drop your wrist down, while your fingers are not moving because of the string. This is called ‘Squat Wrist Open Fingers’.

Should be done right? Not quite. The visualization that is most often given as dropping the wrist is actually incorrect. It actually is dropping the forearm. That is correct. It should be both the elbow and the wrist that is dropped. You should imagine that you are standing next to a tall railing and that you are dropping your forearm as if your wrist is trying to squat on the railing while you are keeping your finger tips in the same place.

The visualization usually given for fingers is for your fingers to extend, or your finger tips being pulled up by a string. That is only partially accurate. A more accurate visualization is that of your fingers opening up as if they were the petals on a flower opening up, with the center of your palm being the center of the flower. Your palm has to open up and you have to feel your fingers opening up from the palm out. The fingers will extend, but you have to feel the fingers expand as well. A good way to imagine it is as if you fingers are spreading over a basketball (without your fingers spreading out from each other too much). If you feel webbing expand between your fingers and you feel the width of your finger expanding, while your fingers are getting longer, you have the right feeling. Most of the time people describe this as just extended, but the actual meaning is open.

So how is this related to the spine? Well, this is where to me it gets fascinating. Try this. Drop your wrist while keeping your fingers open. Start feeling what your shoulder feels like. Now drop your elbow while maintaining your fingers open and your wrist dropped. You will notice that when you had just dropped your wrist while not dropping your elbow, your shoulders probably didn’t feel as settled. When you drop the elbow, you probably felt that the armpit was hollower and felt that the shoulder was more relaxed and more settled. Now, while maintaining the elbow and wrist in place, make your fingers go limp. You will notice that the top of your shoulders became tight and the arm will feel heavier.

The placement of your wrist and your fingers affect how well your shoulders can relax, and thus affect ‘Settle Shoulder Drop Elbow’. As we have been discussing, ‘Settle Shoulder Drop Elbow’ is just another description of the physical body when the spine is properly aligned.

Isn’t it amazing how the body is connected in such a way that parts of the body that are seeming completely separate from each other have such influence on each other? So here is another revealing truth about the principles. The principles are not a technique to use the body as a tool. The principles are a feedback, a standard that helps you recognize whether you are natural or not. So, imagine this: the tip of your crown is hanging from the heavens and you are like a puppet hanging from above, you let the rest of your body hang. This is when there is no extra tension, how your chest and back would sit, how your shoulders and elbows would sit, and how your wrist and fingers would be.
Didn’t think there would be so much to wrist and fingers did you?

History of Tai-Chi Journey up to this point:

Before the blog opened to the public, we covered the single person part of the system.
1. Chi-Gong (Taoist Longevity, White Crane Chi-Gong)
2. Standing Meditation
3. Stepping Meditation
4. 7 Basics
5. Basic Form
6. 30 Form
7. 108 Form

Interactive training after we went public with the blog.
1. 8 Type Pushing Hands (Covered from 2/2 ~ 2/11)
2. San-Shou (Covered from 2/12 ~ 2/15)
3. Ba-Gua.(Covering from 2/16 ~ 2/19)
4. Weapons (Covered on 2/23)
5. Healing System (Covered on 2/24)

Non-Structured System:
1. Introduction (Covered 2/25)
2. Free moving – conditioning (Covered 2/26)
3. Free hand pushing hand (Covered 3/1)
4. Free hand (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/2)
5. Free hand weapon (2 person drills and multiple person drills) (Covered 3/3)

Detailed Instructions:
1. Principles (Covered 3/4)
2. Principle of Principles (Covered 3/5)
3. Principles of Upper Body (Start on 3/8)
    1) ‘Empty Spirit Summit Strong’ (Covered on 3/8)
    2) ‘Tailbone Centered and Upright’ (Covered on 3/9)
    3) ‘Contain Chest Raise Back’ (Covered 3/10)
    4) ‘Settle Shoulder Drop Elbow’ (Covered 3/11)
    5) ‘Squat Wrist Open Fingers’ (Covered today)

1 comment:

  1. This really reminds me of Tai Chi begins, the way the arms raise is so similar to what you are describing here.