Reasons behind the waist rotation

Many people wonder why the Tai Chi Chuan Classics say that all movements have to originate from the waist and motion should start from the direction of inside to the outside and all movements must be connected. There are three essential reasons why a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner must pay attention to the waist. 1. It is the location of chi initialization. 2. Physical coordination for mobilization and stability. 3. Unify all movements and power. One can better understand these three reasons from the following illustrations.

1. Chi Initiation
We know that the center of a person is the midsection or the waist. It is the section connecting the upper torso and the legs and feet. Besides coordination, this area is the location of a meridian point called "ming mend" (gate of life) and chi storage. In Tai Chi Chuan training, the emphasis is on the rotation of the waist so that the chi will release from this meridian point and begin to circulate the body. Therefore, waist rotation is the catalyst for chi circulation. If there is no rotation on the waist, chi is not released from this meridian point. If chi is not available, how does one expect to have chi circulation? If there is no chi circulation, there will be no benefit for health because a practitioner does not rotate the waist in the Solo Form practice and this is but a waste of time. This is similar to boiling water in a kettle without water, soon or later, the kettle will be destroyed.

2. Coordination
The waist is the most important joint in the body, it controls more than the coordination of upper and lower body. It is the location of all the nerves that affect the body's movements and stability. Its significance in mobility is obvious to people who are suffering from low back pain. The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say "Root from the feet, discharge through the legs, control by the waist and manifest in the hands." further, "The power from the techniques of palm wrist, shoulder, back, hip, knee, and feet, all are discharge from the waist." Regular work on the muscle groups in this area will stimulate, improve and strength the nerves' function which improve mobility, flexibility and coordination. This is why all martial art styles emphasize waist training as an essential part of the exercise for the beginner.

3. Unity
In The Six Harmony Theory, the external three harmony says that the hip matches with the shoulders, elbows with the knees, and hands with the feet. When the "ming men" is in motion, it will lead the body to form many circles. According to the external three harmony, the shoulders and the hips will form an inner circle, the elbows and knees will form a middle circle and the hands and feet will form an outer circle. From the illustration, the initial motion on the "ming men" will form many circles in the body that look like a spider web.

The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say "When one part of the body moves, all parts move together. When the body does not move, all parts do not." Let's assume that we are grasping the center of this spider web and shaking hard, the vibration will transmit evenly throughout this spider web from the center to the edge. However, if this action does not happen from the center, the vibration will not be transmitted evenly throughout the web. Therefore, in the Solo Form practice, the movement should not be initiated from another area than the waist to get unity. Otherwise, the movement will not be unified. For example, when one pushes the hand out, the order of motion should be ming men - shoulder - hand. When one retreats the hand, the order of motion should be hand - elbow - ming men. All the motions in The Solo Form should be follow this formula so that each movement will flow smoothly from inside to outside. Inside and outside is but a matter of comparison. When we compare the hip rotation to the ming men, the hip is outside and the ming men is inside. When we compare the hip rotation to the knees rotation, the hip is inside and the knee is outside. One thing we must not forget is that all motions originate from the ming men, not other joints, to achieve unity and togetherness. This is often one of the many mistakes originating from area other than the ming men is incorrect.

From the illustration demonstrated above, all the motions must originate from the ming men to have the maximum transmission. This motion works like a whip. The ming men is the handle, the hands or feet are the tip of the whip. Now, we see why the Tai Chi Chuan Classics emphasize the work of the waist; it is activating the ming men to release chi. It is a major joint that controls and unifies all movements and transmission of power. Tai Chi Chuan practice is the practice of chi circulation. In other words, physical movement is the manifestation of chi circulation.

Article By Master Vincent Chu
Copyright © V. Chu. All rights reserved.