Spiraling in the legs/Twisting the knees outward in Tai Chi

dqtstock

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"Spiraling in the legs is emphasized through out the advancing (shifting forward) movement suah as Ward Off, Press and Push (Grasping the bird's Tail). Spiral both legs i.e press the feet to the ground and slightly twist the left knee counterclockwise and the right knee clockwise - as you move forward continue spiraling. (Right leg is forward)"

Please advice me if this is safe and correct ways to do the "Grasping the bird's Tail" in Yang Tai Chi. I tried it out but my knees hurt a bit, though doing this way it seems the force can be transfered up to the hands and and I was feeling more connected to the ground. Thank you.
 

ggg214

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i don't know much about Yang style, but here is a great expert on this style.
all i know that if you want to pretect your knees, No twist!
 

pete

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all movements of tai chi should include counterbalance, so while there may be apparent 'advancing forward' (yang)movements, be especially mindful of the 'advancing rearward' (yin) counterbalance.

when you say 'press the feet to the ground', that is only half right. again, to maintain balance, coordination, and unity there must be counterbalance. try feeling one foot pulling while the other is pressing down...

so spiraling must come from somewhere... right? all movements in tai chi should include not only shifting of weight, but also turning. clockwise and counterclock. remember there is no straight lines in the tai chi diagram, there should be no straight movements in your tai chi.

direct the turning from the waist and have it travel through your posture, out to your extremities.

and yes no twisting of the knees~ knees are weight transferance joints not weight bearing joints. aign them over your feet and maintain that connection.

pete.
 

Quotheraving

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In no sense should you be 'twisting' your legs under any circumstances!

The arrangement of muscles, ligaments and cartilage in the knee joint is specifically designed* for movement along a single axis while supporting the entire body weight.
It is NOT designed for either twisting, lateral or movement along any other axis and even a very small movement of that kind can severely injure the joint.
Infact twisting of the knee joint due to sudden direction changes at speed (and therefore poor body awareness) is the commonest cause of sporting injuries in that part of the body.

In short whoever is advising this is frankly a complete imbecile.


*I prefer the word evolved as no part of the average non-cosmetically altered person was intentionally designed, but as 'design' implies a proper form of functioning I'll continue with that.
 

Quotheraving

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Please advice me if this is safe and correct ways to do the "Grasping the bird's Tail" in Yang Tai Chi. I tried it out but my knees hurt a bit, though doing this way it seems the force can be transfered up to the hands and and I was feeling more connected to the ground. Thank you.

In brief, no it is'nt.

The feeling of 'connection' this promotes is the kinesthetic sensation of the tension between your legs and the ground as the knees are forced outwards.
The key word here is tension.

Try basing your practice on the advice of the classics and the Yang family themselves and seek connection through relaxation and the body's natural structure rather than external muscular straining.
 
OP
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dqtstock

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if the legs don't spiral, but only the upper body turn I find it hard to sync the upper and lower body. Once I read that in Yang style the grinding action of the rear heel in the bow-and-arrow stance is important, as it ensures the rooting of the foot and sets up the body as a conduit to use the ground. So here is "grinding" is same as "twisting" ?
 

Quotheraving

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If by grinding the heel you mean rotating about the heel as if grinding out a ciggy or driving in a screw, well that's something entirely different from what you described in your original post and isn't a feature of 108 Yang style.

It is in Chen style, as you can see here :

As well as the Cheng man Ching 37 step form:

But not the traditional Yang style:

The reason for the grinding heel in this case is that it moves the leg into a turned in position without elongating the stance or losing power as would be the case if one pivoted on the ball of the foot to swing the heel outwards, as it commonly does in the 24 step form here:

Yang style 108 step (at least in my limited experience) does away with the need for this pivot by setting the back foot up in advance as it were.

Now if it were Chen style you were talking about your original question about pushing the knees outwards would make sense as that form demands it simply so that the lower leg is aligned, but that just isn't a feature in any Yang variant that I know of.

Hope that helps.
 
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dqtstock

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Thanks for all hints so far.

my 1st post describes actual legs/foot movement in training, but the 2nd post is a quesion in comparing "spiraling legs/twisting knees&foot out" vs "grinding" back heel in Yang bow-and-arrow stance.
 

yilong178

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knee twisting is a harmful pracitce in produces tension, not roundness, softness,rhythm,etc. Who taught you that knee twisting.
 

Quotheraving

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I'm unearthing this old topic as I believe I've found where this idea comes from.

I bought myself some light reading to take on holiday with me, a book by Mantak Chia called 'The inner structure of Tai Chi', the title sounded pretty interesting, but it wasn't till it was delivered that I realised why the name had seemed so familiar. :(

I read it anyway and was quite amused to see that ol Mantak sings the praises of this spiralling in the legs, both to drive chi upwards (The chi flows up the legs in a spiral or maybe also along the meridians.... hmmm) and to 'weld the structure together'. He says you can't do proper Tai Chi without it.

Here's a video clip of his form, you can draw your own conclusions from that.

 
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mograph

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Herein lie the perils of remote instruction, i.e. with no teacher present.

Twisting the knee is bad when it takes the twist, that is, the upper leg turns one way and the lower leg turns the other. We've established this.

However, the speaker may be instructing you to turn the legs and open the kua so from your point of view, the knees appear to move outwards. Maybe, maybe not.

I don't mean to give an instruction on this matter, I'm just saying that kinesthetic stuff is hard to convey in words, and different verbal instructions mean different things to different people. Maybe the writer isn't asking you to twist your knees and injure yourself, it's just the way of describing the process that works for him. If you were in the same room with him, you could ask for a demo or clarification, but not if you're reading his book. Especially if he's dead.

Bottom line: take any written instructions with a grain of salt, ask around, and don't do anything harmful. Right?
 

Quotheraving

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Well to be fair to him he does say that it is a subtle thing and that overdoing it can strain the knees, but he's pretty explicit about it being a rotational muscular tension in the legs... there's a fair portion of the book dedicated to explaining it.

and i quote:
"Be aware of the knee. Press the feet to the ground, and slightly twist the left knee counterclockwise and the right knee clockwise."

From his previous books I have found Mantak to be prone to this kind of overcomplication usually coupled with outragous claims about chi-energy and healing vibrations and all manner of psuedo-spiritual mush for no better reason than to have some super hidden secret technique to sell.

But that's a personal gripe and largely irrelevant, like yourself Mo I'm aware of how clumsy words are at conveying the subtleties of our inner experience and so I searched for video examples of Mantak's form to see for myself whether the walk would talk.

I linked a video of Mantak's tai chi form, as demonstrated by someone he considers highly enough to be the figurehead for his instructional dvds because it is ... well I don't want to be rude about it, but I don't think it's very good at all.

Is this the result of using tension to compensate for bad structure?
I for one would say yes.

Now I didn't exhume this old thread simply to lay into Mantak's book but rather to speculate on whether the op's instruction to spiral the legs hadn't come originally from his teachings.
 
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East Winds

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Quotheraving,

Right on the money with all your posts on this subject.

Very best wishes
 
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