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Tai Chi Ball

The Tai Chi Ball or 'qiu' has always been an integral part of Tai Chi Chuan training. It is thought in some Tai Chi Chuan circles that the practice of Tai Chi Ball should not be undertaken until practitioners have completed a specific number of years training in skilled hands and the Tai Chi Chuan Forms. Certainly if one is working with a ball of some weight then I would be in agreement, however it is possible to train with a light ball of even a few ounces, or what I have termed 'Empty Hand Tai Chi Ball' immediately.

As the Tai Chi Ball practice helps develops ones rooting, spiralling and cardiovascular system why not begin this process sooner rather than later. A light ball or empty hand practice does not depend on Li Strength (muscular strength), so a practitioner can learn to utilise whole body movement. As one progresses through one's training then the size and weight of the ball can be increased incrementally.

Practised in Riding Horse and utilising other postures such as cat, crane, dragon and duck it develops correct structural alignment and stance work. The practice of these stances and postures strengthens the tendons, ligaments and the connective tissue to support the weight of the body, thereby enhancing one's ability to root. Within Tai Chi Ball practice one learns to contract, expand, creating external and internal connectivity leading to an overall improvement in one's form and skilled hands practice.

One can practice Tai Chi Ball slowly inducing a meditative state, or more quickly or explosively in order to work the cardio-vascular system helping to develop your strength, fitness and agility.

Within the UKTQF practitioners begin work with balls weighing just a few ounces moving incrementally to balls weighing as much as 10 kilos, working in this incremental fashion allows the practitioner to measure their own Qi Gong (energy work)

Development. This graduation from empty hand to 10 kilos can take many years, but one goes step by step through the levels of attainment whilst all the while ensuring correct structural alignment, without the use of tension or physical exertion which ensures that the body leads the ball and not the other way around.

For those of you who practice the Guangping Set it may be interesting for you to note that Yang Ban Hou was an advocate of Tai Chi Ball training. The more one's practice matures, the less physical strength will be required, eventually reaching a point where even the heaviest ball is worked effortlessly, at the same time one is increasing one?s rooting, spiralling and fajing ability.

Practice of the Tai Chi Ball also introduces at an early stage the process of circularity of movements on a number of different planes. Once becomes competent in the solo form then one begins training with a partner further enhancing their skills in skilled hands practice. The solo Tai Chi Ball as eight postures and eight exercises which fully utilise movements, which epitomise Tai Chi Chuan practice. The Tai Chi Ball Form aids the development of sung (relaxation), the ability to transfer from one movement to the next smoothly, intent, coiling and spiralling ability. Whilst the practice of Tai Chi Ball becomes more difficult as the weight and size of the ball grows, the benefits to your health and practice also accumulates accordingly, the practice of Tai Chi Ball informs all of your practice and should be an integral part of Tai Chi Chuan training or for that matter any Chinese Internal Martial Arts Training no matter what the style.

Throughout 2007 Tai Chi Ball will be taught at all the UKTQF internal Martial Arts Intensives as well as the Iron Body Retreat in Millom. This will be an opportunity to learn a skill, which will be of major benefit to your practice as well as your overall health.

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