An anonymous reader writes:
“Do you have any tips how to maintain balance in the ‘turn and strike with heel’ posture? I have practiced and practiced trying to find my balance. I don’t fall over, I just struggle so much that it breaks my flow. I am using the momentum to get through because I can’t find the balance doing it slower. It is the biggest point of stress in my practice. You do it very well, any tips?”
Thank you, dear reader. My ability to perform that posture well has come with many years of practice! Lots of people have trouble balancing while doing the turn and heel kick, but there are several things that will help you maintain balance:
1. Firstly, keep the right leg, knee out but toes at the central axis, or at the ankle, or lower front of the left leg.
2. Experiment with the swing of the right hand. Swing it till you have enough momentum to turn, and not so much that you over turn. When you over turn, one of several things happens: 1. You may turn over (fall). 2. You may try to keep your balance with your muscles, so you put the foot down and strain your muscles by trying to stop the momentum, and end up being off balance. 3. You go too far with the right foot.
When you under turn you have other problems with the kick, such as the angle of the legs being too wide. But people rarely underturn and so we’ll save any discussion of that for another day.
3. Fill your belly with air to lower your center of gravity. You do not have to look like me with a big Tai Chi belly, but take a big breath with the diaphragm and your center of gravity will be lower than before you took the breath. Lowering your center of gravity improves balance. Keep in mind that a pyramid balances better on its base than on its point.
4. Balance on your bubbling well spring as the foot comes down. This takes a while. First yo have to feel it. Then you have to get used to using it. Then you have to make your balance point small enough. Professor Cheng used to say that he balanced on a point, like a needle point. I balance on an area about the size of a half dollar at this time, but I used to use my whole foot. The bubbling well is a point between and just behind the balls of the feet. The bubbling well is a natural balance point.
Even before you can use the bubbling well spring to balance on, you can improve your balance by using less and less of the foot to balance on. This is because as you use less of the foot for balance, you can lose your balance and not need to take a hop, because as your balance just goes to another part of the foot. So you can rebalance with a wobble, not a step.
Finally, relax when you do it, relax first, relax last, just relax. It may take a while, but should eventually come out just fine.
In Tai Chi,