Tai Chi Chih Series: Around the Platter
T'ai Chi Chih - AROUND THE PLATTER
Around the Platter introduces the YIN/YANG move, which is a shifting of the entire body weight so that it is centered first on one leg and then on the other. YIN/YANG moves are done three to nine times leading with the left foot, then resting for a moment and beginning again leading with the right foot.The body remains completely upright, again, as though suspended from the ceiling. Visualize the orbits of the planets around the sun the weight is simply and easily shifted from the left to the right evenly.
The body moves over the slightly forward left leg, filling it, as the back leg is emptied of its energy. Yang becomes Yin and Yin becomes Yan. You are a “chi pump”, so the emptier one side becomes, the more energy it can be filled with when gravity begins to pull on it. The size of the step is not as important to the movement of energy as is the completeness of the shift. This is easiest to feel when the learner takes a moderately wide but short step forward (beginning with the left foot). The heel makes contact with the floor first, exactly as it would when walking. Then the weight is shifted onto that leg, (exactly as when walking), with no pushing exerted by the leg that is giving away the weight. As with walking, it is the connection between the muscles in the core and leg of the forward side that bring the body onto that leg. The hands always remain at rest until the weight shift has begun through the hips.
In the “platter” moves, they are at a comfortable height somewhere between the heart level and the waist, depending upon the length of a person’s arms. The fingers are soft and separated, as though you were going to play the piano, or were resting them on a cloud of air. The upper arms remain resting against the body, and the shoulders are still.
Because of the movement of the body, the hands are gently dragged from side to side, so there is no need to “grind” them. The circular shape is created by using the forearms and wrists. Thus, when the body moves forward and left in order to center over the left foot, the hands accompany the body then break away to the left to complete that half of the circle. When they reach the front of the body they are dragged by the body across until they are in line with the right leg, and break away to complete that half of the circle. Because the body is constantly moving, the circle is continuous.