Tai Chi Basics: Lesson 3
~ Relaxation is not for wimps!
Martial artists and athletes from other schools may sometimes look at the relaxed movements of tai chi and assume that because the movements are relaxed, that they are less physically challenging.
That is why it is so entertaining for tai chi teachers to educate athletes such as weight lifters, football (and soccer) players, triathletes, and martial artists from other styles about the true nature of relaxation. These athletes usually feel it the next day, and are quite surprised to find that tai chi can provide such an incredible workout.
When one relaxes thoroughly, the entire body is coordinated in a way that takes all of the normal stress and pressure off of the joints and smaller muscle groups. The pressure is taken off of the bones and disks in the spine as well. This allows the waist to move more easily and allows breathing to be deep, relaxed and efficient.
But when one takes all of that pressure off of the joints and smaller muscle groups, where does it go? It does not just dissipate into the ground. No, it settles into the thighs. When one is perfectly balanced and relaxed, three quarters of the quadriceps take on 99% of the work of holding the body up. And since this type of lactic anaerobic exercise is so rare in modern culture, the eyes of even the most seasoned athletes may go wide in amazement when their thighs being shaking. And those same athletes may feel a need to push themselves in the first class, partly because they are ashamed that something as simple as standing still can be so difficult. The next day, those same athletes may have difficulty walking up and down stairs.