CMC 37P TAI CHI FORM: Left Side View

CMC 37 Posture Tai Chi Form, bird's eye view, left side - 10/04/08 (Autumn)

The Challenge Of Uneven Terrain
Part 4 of 4

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Whenever I exercise outdoors, doing the form on uneven soil is always a major challenge. No matter how many times Ive done the tai chi form before, no matter how familiar the movements are to me, the outdoor experience continues to remain challenging and fresh. Since the contours of the ground are always unpredictable, I constantly have to make new moment-to-moment adjustments to maintain my balance, which keeps me highly alert to my surroundings.

Even if Im exercising in the same general area, the contours of the soil continue to change from day to day. A heavy rainfall during the night digs new grooves in the soil; new bulges and bumps develop, loose pebbles, twigs, lumps in the ground; roots are exposed; new grass grows; dry, or wet, slippery leaves fall into the space; ants build new mounds. Lots of subtle changes occur from one day to the next, constant surprises beneath my feet whenever I move from one posture to the next. Always new challenges, which help keep me alert, reacting and interacting moment by moment with my new environment.

By doing the tai chi form outdoors during different seasons, my feet experience all the changes the earth experiences from one season to the next. Sometimes Im standing ankle deep in snow. Sometimes new tiny blades of grass are springing from the soil. Sometimes Im ankle-deep in grass that hasnt been mowed for several weeks. Sometimes Im standing on dry, autumnal hay. Sometimes the ground is muddy, after many days of rain; other times its rock-hard, after several weeks of drought. Sometimes its sandy and slippery. Each type of surface requires different body adjustments to stay upright and balanced from one movement to the next.

Practicing outdoors on uneven surfaces is a great way of testing my sensitivity and adaptability to the contours Im stepping upon - - can I maintain balance and generate effective strikes, pushes, punches, kicks, while moving on top of an uneven, unpredictable surface?

I never lose interest when doing the tai chi form outdoors - - it keeps me alert, paying attention to every movement. Outdoors, I cant take anything for granted. I cant go into auto pilot (something that can happen when doing the form indoors on a flat, predictably even floor).

I also know that if I can do a complete tai chi form outdoors on uneven surfaces from beginning to end, without losing my balance, without wobbling, tipping over, or stumbling, then my postures (and my root) will be even stronger when done indoors on an even, level floor.


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Added on July 17th, 2016
Last updated: February 13th, 2019