Turn the Waist More Than the Hips in Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua Movement
Mar 12, 2019
In the first internal martial arts school I enrolled in, the Dantien was talked about a lot. It was often referred to as the "One-Point." In our movements, if we were throwing a punch or kick, the teacher would sometimes shout, "Snap your One-Point!!"
What he meant was, snap the hips; turn the hips sharply and fast so your Dantien snaps with it.
It was later, when I trained with members of the Chen family and their students, that I learned why it is wrong to turn the hips so much.
For one thing, it kinks up your structure and moves you out of a centered stance.
If you look at a new student, it doesn't matter what martial art they have studied -- karate, TKD, wrestling, tai chi -- if I ask them to turn their waist, they always turn the hips. They will do it every time.
The waist is NOT the hips.
Here is a little test you can do with nobody watching.
Keep your hips in place -- facing forward -- and without moving the hips, turn to reach something behind you. Don't let your hips move. They will face forward, but you will reach behind you as far as you can. How far did you get without turning the hips?
How did you do that?
You did it by turning the waist. Unless you cheated and turned the hips. I can't see you so don't cheat. :)
In the internal arts, it is crucial to differentiate between the hips and the waist.
Here is another exercise for you. Imagine you are a belly dancer.
Like a belly dancer, keep your hips still but turn the musculature around the navel up and down, circling over and under, making circles in all directions and at all angles. Don't turn the hips -- only the muscles around the navel.
When you rotate the Dantien, your hips do not move very much. The waist turns and the musculature around the navel turns.
The waist almost always turns farther than the hips. Usually, a LOT farther.
It takes a lot of practice to get this, and that's why people have to spend so much time on the basics. If you don't get the basic body mechanics, including Dantien rotation, and that means differentiating between rotating the Dantien and waist versus rotating the hips, the quality of your internal arts will never reach a very high level.
Look at the three photos in this post. My partner punches. I intercept the punch, grab the arm and step in to block his leg.
In the second photo, I connect the arms to the waist, and connect to the ground, and I turn the arms and the waist together, but NOT the hips.
In the third photo, my partner is on the floor. Look at the position of my torso compared with the first photo. Look at how I have sunk into the right kua and turned my waist to the right. Now, notice how my hips did not turn very much.
You want to stay solid in the lower body like the trunk and roots of a tree, but the waist and above are the branches that move and bend. The kua and Dantien serve together to become the buoy in the ocean -- adjusting and maintaining balance.
Using the kua properly also helps you turn the Dantien and avoid turning the hips too much, but that is a subject for another day.
So work on this the next time you practice. The hips never turn as much as the waist and the Dantien. Differentiate between the waist and the hips.
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