The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

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The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby pete5770 » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:05 pm

You hear it all the time. From new students(young and old) to people who just think they are clumsy. The old "I have poor balance", in some form or other. So what's going on here? Do they really "have a balance problem"? I tend to tell them no. You don't, unless you have an inner ear infection, have had a stroke, or have a badly injured leg. In fact a "balance problem" is not a problem at all. It's simply a symptom of, most likely, one of two things. Either weak legs or a poor instructor. Other than to say to the student "get off your *ss and get some leg work in" I won't even talk about the how-to of strong legs. As for a poor instructor, I find very few who take the time to make sure that new students are literally surrounded by other students who know the form. I'm talking at least a knowledgeable person at the four corners. Newbies inside this square then do not have to look over their shoulders, behind their backs, or under their arms to see what to do next. The instructor simply tells them to watch whatever corner they have the best view of at the time and not try to watch him alone. The instructor should place himself at the left front corner, and not front center, as this offers the best view to most of the class most of the time. At least for Yang style it seems best. We all have varying degrees of balance issues but I challenge just about anyone to look straight ahead, stand on one leg, then look over your shoulder or behind your back and NOT lose some, or all, balance. Yet this seems to be what new students get exposed to most. Make it easier on them.
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Re: The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby John the Monkey mind » Tue Jan 17, 2012 5:30 am

They could be dyspraxic. Diagnosis is not common but the condition is so if people have a mild form of dyspraxia they could be clumsy. I think I have it as it often goes with dyslexia but after 10 years of training my balance is ok/good. It makes things harder but not impossible.
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Re: The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby pete5770 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:05 pm

John the Monkey mind wrote:They could be dyspraxic. Diagnosis is not common but the condition is so if people have a mild form of dyspraxia they could be clumsy. I think I have it as it often goes with dyslexia but after 10 years of training my balance is ok/good. It makes things harder but not impossible.


I agree that it could be any of a variety of problems. I only brought this up because I constanly see people trying to stay focused on the leader no matter where he is instead of keeping their vision focused in the direction their body is facing. I find myself doing basically the same thing, as I lead a class, I'm looking around to try and see how people are doing and it really tends to screw up my balance. Stay focused ahead.
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Re: The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby brer_momonga » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:16 am

I had never thought of senior students in the four corners before. Now that you've pointed it out, it really makes a lot of sense. My tai chi instructor starts front and center but moves his position about a dozen times depending on which direction the form has our bodies face.

I agree with your comment on how craning the neck to follow the instructor can disrupt balance (and from an instructor's point of view - trying to watch student performance). Good thing to point out. Thanks for sharing.

Lately, my instructor has been trying to encourage our class to take wider steps and to perform the sequence in a lower stance by reminding us that it will make the heart work harder and generally improve circulation (we know this also improves balance).
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Re: The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby pete5770 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:18 pm

brer_momonga wrote:

Lately, my instructor has been trying to encourage our class to take wider steps and to perform the sequence in a lower stance by reminding us that it will make the heart work harder and generally improve circulation (we know this also improves balance).


You're right. Lower stance = stronger legs
Stronger legs = better balance
One little tip to helping with balance might be for you to try and "grip" the floor with your toes. Actualy try to grab or hang onto the floor with toes. It may seem a little strange at first but even with shoes on this little hint can help you focus on getting yourself "rooted", as they say. Another idea is to forget about your upper body and focus on stance and foot placement. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again - All that hand waving is not Tai Chi. Tai Chi is extremely strong legs, proper stance, correct footwork, rooting yourself into the ground. Forget your hands and arms. Foundation is where it's at.
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Re: The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby caesar » Sat Feb 04, 2012 3:17 am

pete5770 wrote:
brer_momonga wrote:

Lately, my instructor has been trying to encourage our class to take wider steps and to perform the sequence in a lower stance by reminding us that it will make the heart work harder and generally improve circulation (we know this also improves balance).


You're right. Lower stance = stronger legs
Stronger legs = better balance
One little tip to helping with balance might be for you to try and "grip" the floor with your toes. Actualy try to grab or hang onto the floor with toes. It may seem a little strange at first but even with shoes on this little hint can help you focus on getting yourself "rooted", as they say. Another idea is to forget about your upper body and focus on stance and foot placement. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again - All that hand waving is not Tai Chi. Tai Chi is extremely strong legs, proper stance, correct footwork, rooting yourself into the ground. Forget your hands and arms. Foundation is where it's at.


Is it really common in Tai Chi to seek balance by "gripping the floor with toes" ? A guy studying Shaolin told me that it's their way of rooting. Since I started Tai Chi I've only been told to practise rooting by sinking to the postures, with feet relaxed (no gripping), but trying to feel how also the toes lay on ground.

In another post someone made a difference between grounding and rooting...saying grounding is actually sinking without curling the toes, opposite to rooting...
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5103
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Re: The "I have a problem with my balance" problem

Postby pete5770 » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:14 am

caesar wrote:
pete5770 wrote:
brer_momonga wrote:

Lately, my instructor has been trying to encourage our class to take wider steps and to perform the sequence in a lower stance by reminding us that it will make the heart work harder and generally improve circulation (we know this also improves balance).


You're right. Lower stance = stronger legs
Stronger legs = better balance
One little tip to helping with balance might be for you to try and "grip" the floor with your toes. Actualy try to grab or hang onto the floor with toes. It may seem a little strange at first but even with shoes on this little hint can help you focus on getting yourself "rooted", as they say. Another idea is to forget about your upper body and focus on stance and foot placement. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again - All that hand waving is not Tai Chi. Tai Chi is extremely strong legs, proper stance, correct footwork, rooting yourself into the ground. Forget your hands and arms. Foundation is where it's at.


Is it really common in Tai Chi to seek balance by "gripping the floor with toes" ? A guy studying Shaolin told me that it's their way of rooting. Since I started Tai Chi I've only been told to practise rooting by sinking to the postures, with feet relaxed (no gripping), but trying to feel how also the toes lay on ground.

In another post someone made a difference between grounding and rooting...saying grounding is actually sinking without curling the toes, opposite to rooting...
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5103


Not sure if it's "common" in Tai Chi but it is a way that helps and or works for balance problems and thats what's really important. Sinking into it is really "the way" and if sinking doesn't feel quite right to you, try to press your foot / feet into the ground. This also can help keep you steady.
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