Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | May 29, 2009

Adrenaline Rush in Tai Chi

There’s a cable show called sports science that likes to measure things. On one show, it took a wfc fighter and had him punch a crash test dummy(I’m sorry I don’t remember the fighter’s name). The base line punch was at a force of 600 units per spuare inch. They then had him psych himself up and had his trainer pump him up, getting him angry and crazy and ready to bust at the gut, then punch. This punch, juiced up by his natural adrenaline rush, reached 900. They then calmed him down and actually injected him with so many cc’s of adrenaline–crazy–but the third punch was 100 points lower than the natural adrenaline. We all know the stories of the person lifting the schoolbus or the car off their child due to the incredible strength derived from adrenaline coarsing through our bodies.

Now here’s the thing. In tai chi, we strive to do the exact opposite. The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and we work to calm the fight or flight response. We calm everything. The advantages of this, assuming you don’t bring yourself into a catatonic state of mind unable to react to anything–we stay alert and aware in tai chi, very very alert, focused, concentrated, but calm, no wild screaming, no kiai’s to frighten the enemy, but a calm and aware disposition that allows us to react spontaneously to any attack, pull the person into a vortex of circles arcs and spirals, and toss them out just as easily.

I guess people are different, have different makeups, so they choose one way or the other. I’m a more introverted person, so I like the calm cool way. Light and agile like a cat, but calm, cool, and collected. In life and in business, if you are applying these principles, perhaps it’s better not to be in a flying rage(again, I’m sure a trained fighter is able to focus this rage into a disciplined set of attacks), but calm and alert. You may not be able to lift a schoolbus, but you’ll feel like you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

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