7 or 8 years ago I received a correction in form class. I was in a 70/30 stance and, by Aarvo Tucker, I was gently adjusted back in my stance so my weight seemed more in the middle, bringing the rear leg more into play. It appears that I had been too forward in the stance. This correction made a big difference to the way I felt, much more settled into where I was instead of orientated forwards towards an imaginary opponent. Again, last year in Amherst Wolfe Lowenthal advised me to fence from the back leg, not to have all my weight forward on the front leg. He could feel that my sword was more alive with my weight back and my intention brought more into balance. This advice has affected the way that I do the sword form, so now I feel much more able to be just where I am, settled, and not in a hurry to get to the end of the move or the form. It makes me more able to feel how the sword tip is connected to the weighted foot. At times in the form the sword begins to feel heavier which I think is related to a better flow of chi from the foot. Often in this state, a sense of contentment spontaneously arises.
Alongside all this has gradually come a change in my attitude to the world. On balanced days, I feel more content to be who I am, where I am without trying so hard to achieve something else. I think these advantages stem from what Mr Liu called Central Equilibrium. I have an article, undated, written by Mr Liu Hsi-heng, which seems related to this experience. It was given to me by Aarvo Tucker. It is ‘The Concept of Central Equilibrium in T’ai-Chi Ch’uan’ which Mr Liu delivered as a lecture to Shr Jung Tai Chi Chuan Association in Taiwan. Mr Liu lists the advantages of Central Equilibrium as:
One’s posture will be straight and centred. One can hold one’s body balanced and upright, tranquil and relaxed.
It allows the chi to sink to the tan tien, the foundation upon which to build chi.
Gathering the mind and chi in the tan tien gives pliability, drives away sickness, and lengthens one’s years.
Mr Liu explains the methods of practicing Central Equilibrium. It seems clear from his explanation and the fact that he chose to deliver this article as a lecture to Shr Jung, that the concept goes to the crux of Mr Liu’s conception of good tai chi. ‘Regardless of whether one is practicing the form or pushing hands, it is necessary to diligently seek the balanced and upright.’ He notes that this allows the muscles and tendons to open up. Opening up and relaxing the muscles and tendons allows the trunk of the body to sink down and achieve sung. Mr Liu says the mind, too, must be balanced and upright: ‘Only if the mind is level and calm and only if one’s thoughts are upright and straight will it be possible to put everything extraneous aside and avoid nervous agitation.’ Roy Wilson 2011