Tai Chi Fifteen Important Transitions

Realize your supreme potential!

Apr 29, 2016

Tai Chi: Realize Your Supreme Potential!

By Dr. John Burns DPT, MSOM, LAc 

Are you currently working toward a health and fitness goal or are you training to be able to perform to the best of your abilities in a sport or athletic endeavor?  If you are I would like to inform you that you were born with the supreme potential to reach your goals. This is according to the ancient philosophers and martial artists who developed the time-honored practice of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi translates to the “Supreme Ultimate”, which recognizes the supreme potential (Tai) we are all born with to be able to overcome the ultimate challenges (Chi) we are faced with when trying to achieve a goal. If you have ever observed someone performing the Yang style Tai Chi form you will notice that the movements are performed very slowly and gracefully like the flowing water of a river meandering through a forest.  Why? The reason for performing these martial art’s movements very methodically is to heighten an individual’s awareness of how they feel both physically and emotionally while executing, with the utmost precision, a variety of martial arts techniques such as punching, blocking, and kicking. The ultimate goal of this practice then was to be able to utilize the principles of this mind-body exercise in real life situations such as overcoming a difficult challenge, achieving a goal, mastering martial art’s techniques, or mastering the techniques of any athletic endeavor with greater patience, poise, and physical prowess.  

Thankfully many of us do not find ourselves in combative situations, however, in modern times these same principles of practice can be utilized by anyone, including you, to help you realize your supreme potential when your are faced with trying to succeed at a goal you have set for yourself that is fraught with emotional and physical challenges.

What are these principles?

The good news is you do not have to learn an entire Tai Chi form to learn the basic principles of practice, although I do recommend you learn a Tai Chi form to be able to experience all the evidence-based benefits of Tai Chi. The following four principles are simple yet profoundly powerful when you are working toward achieving any goal.

  1. Properly position your body for the situation you are faced with because form facilitates function. Think of this as a martial artist’s ready position no matter what position you need to assume.
  2. Utilize deep breathing to counteract the “fight or flight response” and facilitate a more “relaxed and ready” state of being.
  3. Relax the muscles you do not need when you assume a more properly positioned body for the activity you’re engaged in. This new found relaxed-ready state of being facilitates your ability to use the relaxed-flexibility of your extremities to execute any technique with greater efficiency and power.
  4. This is the most important principle. Stay focused on the present moment with your properly positioned body, deep breathing, and a relaxed state of readiness. Don’t let negative self-talk dissuade you from your intended goal or increase your emotional stress and/or physical tension. It is within the present moment you can practice acceptance of the challenge, gratitude for the opportunity to overcome the challenge, and ultimately be able to realize your supreme potential!

In conclusion, what is often said, but only practiced in Tai Chi, be like water my friend and go with the flow.