Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | August 22, 2011

Ball Bearings Tai Chi

Ball bearings reduce friction and make the wheel turn smoothly. This is an excellent metaphor for life, how to live your life, and the inner workings of tai chi chuan kung fu.

The dan tien, the energy center of the body, is the focal point of tai chi. Located just below the belly button, it is where the internal alchemy takes place, where we turn jing, or essence, into chi, or energy, or life force. The dan tien is also the focal point of all movement in tai chi. Every move origintes in the dan tien and then makes the whole body move. It is helpful to think of a good sized steel ball in the dan tien that is lubricated, around which, the ball casing turns. This allows for free flowing, smooth movement, integrated movement throughout the entire body, and smooth interaction with outside forces.

Without the steel balls of a ball bearing assembly, balls which are sanded and smoothed to a fine mirror like finish, and tempered in fire, the outer casings would rub against each other and grind each other down with friction. The balls reduce the friction and act as the buffer around which the walls rotate.

The world is the wheel, turning. We have an opportunity, through practice and discipline, to become the balls(I know that sounds funny) that reduces the friction and allows the world to turn freely and smoothly.

A good meditation, either in stillness or while doing tai chi, is to picture a lubricated steel ball in the dan tien around which the rest of the mechanical body rotates. See how this changes the way you move. Is everyhting centered around and related to the steel ball?

Two other good visualizations are to picture a gyroscope in the dan tien and to picture pachinko balls, hundreds of them(tiny ball bearings, flowing like chi throughout the pathways of the body. While chi should not normally be pictured as hard steel balls, but as energy or light, it is helpful in exploring the concept of moving chi at will to any part of the body. “Hearning those steel balls clicking through the paths one after another til they reach their destination, is pretty cool


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