Energy flows. Everything is energy, you, me, the screen this is printed on the ground we walk on, the sun, the moon the universe. Giant waves that are ridden unknowingly, flowing within us and without us.
On the edge of our senses we know the waves are there, surfing makes them manifest. We feel the energy in the wave when conjoining with the vibration of the life force and when we ride within the pulsating stream of flowing knowingness we connect. Whether it be on one foot wind chop or one hundred foot of screaming monster we are one with all things; a stillness in motion. Becoming Tai Chi.
Tai Chi circles, life revolves in a circle, nothing, child, knowing, adult, forgetting, old person full of an unheard knowledge then death, nothing or maybe a return to that time before the womb. The energy of the wave revolves endlessly until it feels the disturbance of the shallows of the sea bottom, then it breaks and dissipates into whatever it touches, never dying, like the fluttering of butterfly wings creating the seed of the hurricane.
The hand on the face of the wave feeling the vibrations within, the shifting of weight from front foot to back and to the front again, the turn in the waist, the arms shifting the centre of gravity searching out the still point and we sense we are here in this moment. There is no other.
Tai Chi reflects this energy ride or should it be riding the wave reflects Tai Chi? Not, ‘what came first?’ for its all the same ride. Energy flowing up from the feet following the ancient meridians through the waist and down the arms, through the hands, sinking to the Dantien the vast storehouse of energy just below the belly button around which the Tai Chi exponent revolves and the Universe does to.
Circles traced through gentle movements engender hardened steel bones the sinews and muscles strung together with no tension, the breath slow, in tune with the movement melded together like silk drawn from the cocoon, no breaks, no stopping, a moving meditation, an internal martial art that nurtures and heals but can damage and kill, the Masters only allowing the true knowledge to a few.
The surfer paddles into the wave feels the board sliding jumps up and enters the realm of a never ending journey of discovery about himself, the wave his dojo in which no matter how many times you have ridden the break there is always an improvement, a change in foot placement, hand movement, shifting of weight through a long glide or a rip and tear punching out into the air.
In Tai Chi the practitioner enters the Form, a set grouping of movements and through learning the technique, upright stance, broad chest, relaxed shoulders, weighted elbows, foot placement, shifting the weight, allowing, relaxing, letting go the Chi flows and moving through the Form becomes effortless. And each time you come to the Form there are changes, subtle improvements that develop the flow of Chi, initially inches then hundreds of an inch, thousandths and on and on, always learning, a never ending journey of discovery.
The roots draw from the same source. A reflection upon a feeling sensed at a time of movement in stillness and tranquillity in motion. Zhang Sanfeng the mythical creator of Tai Chi watching the dance like fighting of the crane and snake, movement, poise, never still and yet ready to strike, defence to attack and to defence within the same moment.
The ancient beach waterman studying the fringe of the ocean from which he takes life to feed his family and friends. The curling wave lifting his canoe, the sense of lightness, him body shooting to shore. His body hearing the balance of energies inherently known by his soul and returning to the water again and again to commune with the powerful sense of being. Just being. As one. Tai Chi.
With time, through practice comes a joint understanding that nothing that is worth knowing can be forced. The wave is born and moves at a pace dictated by an underlying presence that is unbelievably complex. The glimpse of understanding that is revealed by the wave to the surfer is so profound it is difficult to describe, words are so cumbersome. In Tai Chi the universal energy is felt throughout the body and opens an understanding that is equally as transitory. In both cases enlightenment, a taste of true knowledge then stepping out into the world of ten thousand things, the day to day, enriched by touching your soul and yet the same old same old.
Accepting the extraordinary in the ordinary is key. Obsession to necessity to understanding, living life with four ounces of pressure, relaxation in motion, Yin and Yang. Within the thunderous wipe out is the knowledge of the perfect ride, within the practical movement of the Form comes the superlative understanding of Chi providing synchronous movement without effort.
In Tai Chi yielding, sticking, allowing, giving yourself over to fully understand the other so that when they move you move and you get to the point of contact before them. The intrinsic sensing of the other persons energy by relaxing, letting go and not pushing, not seeking to gain advantage by extrinsic muscle power is paramount.
On a wave understanding its intent is to allow the wave to reveal itself, yielding to its power, sticking to the acceleration and roiling boils of energy that happen, going along with its idiosyncrasies, melding with its nature. We might dance on and off its face seeking air, twist, turn cut and carve but only within the parameters of the energy that we allow ourselves to receive.
On the wave as in life as in Tai Chi existence is only in the present moment, nothing else matters, it can’t. The past is gone, the future is nowhere there is only now until the next now and the next and… Surfing and Tai Chi teach us to realise the words of the Thirteen Postures Song, in stillness there is a stirring, in movement one is as if still. In expansion there must be contraction, in contraction there must be expansion, Yin and Yang, a balance, the middle way.
Surfing and Tai Chi are synergic, complimentary, no doctrine no dogma only providing a deep understanding of the flow of energy through all things that connects each and every one of us to each other and the planet and the Universe. They allow us to feel the life force with all our senses, teach us not to push against the flow, just relax and let it be.