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What is coordination?
It is the skill of making things work together in harmony and unison. In business this means managing a team/office and the associated resources efficiently and effectively.
Coordination assumes some aspect of leadership, control or responsibility.
Coordinating your body is more challenging than you may realise. The task is hindered by the fact that most people have little idea how to use their own body skilfully.
'Physical education' in school didn't teach you very much. PE is usually just sport.
We all accumulate habits of movement and body use throughout life and not all habits are good. Coordination involves:
Moving different parts of the body together in harmony
Gait (manner of walking)
- left and right sides of the body
- front and back
- upper and lower
- hands and feet
- elbows and knees
- hips and shoulders
Kinaesthetic awareness (knowing where your limbs are positioned without needing to look)
Ambidextrous use of the limbs
Good skeletal alignment
Common health problems such as bad back or
painful knees are often the result of poor
coordination (either during the day or when exercising).
The ability to coordinate the responsibilities of your life is known as 'time management'. It enables you to determine for yourself how best to use your time.
Coordinating multiple variables, addressing (often conflicting) needs and wants, as well as fulfilling your own agenda is a skill that requires practice.
At first glance tai chi form practice may look a little like slow motion dance. Many of the same skills are required. But there are also significant differences, particularly in terms of purpose.
The purpose of tai chi
Tai chi for health was adapted from the fighting method of tai chi chuan (dynamic balancing boxing).
Tai chi uses ancient Taoist insights and principles of body use to employ martial skills in a very powerful, effective manner.
Every movement is designed to coil the body, store kinetic energy and then release it in combat.
Not only must the body be exceptionally well-coordinated, the resultant movements are also extremely strong.
The necessity of highly-skilled coordination makes tai chi ideal for everyday body use. It trains the individual to use their body in an extremely efficient manner.
Every step is balanced and all parts of the body ultimately work together in harmony.
It is easy for most people to perform large, extended movements that rotate the shoulder joint or bend the elbow. No particular skill is involved.
Our students are not taught to practice in this way. Whilst large movements may indeed exercise some of the muscles and the joints, they fail to address the full range of potential movement.
The real skill lies in the small, in the subtle.
Making very small movements is difficult initially. In modern society, our bodies are not encouraged to make small, smooth, controlled movement. Everything is jerky and abrupt.
In the first movement of the Long Yang form, we must place the palms down (as if on a table) then smoothly lift the arms up to shoulder height.
As the arms lift, the wrists must gradually flex so that the hand changes from a flat shape to a bent shape. The arms then lower and the hand moves from bent back to flat again.
Crude & clumsy
In this example, the movement of the wrist must be very slow, smooth and gradual. If you simply flick the wrist, the joint is not exercised properly.
But if you move the wrist more slowly, you feel very notable work taking place in the wrist muscles throughout the entire exercise.
We have yet to encounter a single new starter who could perform this simple movement correctly at first.
18 March 1997
Last updated 16 June 2023