Spring breaking

Perhaps we most often think of the power/virtue of chi as being mysterious, soft, soundless, appearing from nature’s hidden side.

This isn’t always so: sometimes it is mundane, noisy, prosaic, very much in the here and now… and mischievous.

I recall how once an overhead lavatory cistern’s lid flew off with a great clang from a mild pull on the chain; another time, how heavy double doors banged wide open from a slight press. This week, chi-mischief has got into my wine glasses: glasses which I have been washing-up and drying by hand in the same way for five years or so, now bursting under the action of my fingers and cloth going into the cup end.  So far, in a week, I’ve smithered three and cracked a fourth*.

It’s got to stop!

Or at least I should understand what’s going on… And I think it’s this: the drying-up action is spiral, intrinsically powerful therefore – Ward-off into Roll-back in Tai Chi terms.


In the summer of last year I took up again a practice that I had for a long time (many years) let go. I was prompted to re-examine the famous Chan Suu Chin – Silk Reeling Energy – so much loved by practitioners of the Chen Family Forms.

In preparation for this I worked-up some exercises, specifically for the arms and shoulders, most often called sinew or tendon-changing: I Chin.

The Force generated through this practice is palpable, dynamic – from within to without to within. During these months I have experienced the ache of developing and re-aligning muscle and limb posture, and my Tai Chi Form practice plays out differently.

And, yes, I have started breaking things.
Truly, the natural tensile/ductile strength in silk – in Silk Reeling* – is amongst the strongest, strangest, and oldest of the world.

*Smithered is a made-up word.
*Wine glasses designed by Alfredo Haberli for iittala.
*I hope to produce an article on this, ‘The Virtuous Spiral’ in early summer.

©April 2013