Physical education
   
     

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Who taught you how to use your body?

This is a reasonable question, and most people could not give a decent answer.
Did anyone teach you:

  1. Healthy skeletal alignment?

  2. Optimal body use?

  3. How your muscles work?

  4. Coordination?

  5. Timing?

  6. How and why to relax your body?

  7. Balance?

  8. Proprioception? (relative position of body parts/awareness of how much strength is being applied)

  9. Rhythm?

  10. Mind/body unity?

  11. Leverage?

  12. Kinaesthetic awareness? (knowing where your limbs are positioned without needing to look)

  13. Biomechanics?

  14. Footwork?

  15. Biofeedback?

  16. Ambidextrous use of the limbs?

  17. Gait? (manner of walking)

Your parents probably did not teach this to you. School did not teach it either.


Reform

Physical Education at school should actually educate people on physical matters:

How to use your body in a healthy manner
Sport is relegated to an after school club for those who are 'sporty'
Kids who have postural/gait/movement issues should be given specialist rehabilitation in order to restore healthy body use
Personal hygiene and cleanliness should be taught
Ergonomics - sitting, lifting, good usage
Anatomical knowledge; leverage, balance, strength, stance, poise etc
How to avoid strain, discomfort, injury
Everyday body use


Bad habits


Many health problems are caused by the way in which we stand, walk, sit and use our bodies during everyday activities.
Headache, fatigue, stiff neck, bad knees, back problems are usually caused by our own bad habits.
Incorrect muscle use, imbalance, poor physical awareness, work and many forms of exercise only serve to perpetuate poor fitness and muscle
tension.


Solution

The solution is quite simple.
We need to discover how to use our bodies in a healthy, natural, balanced and comfortable manner.

From car seats to constrictive clothing, from chairs to shoes that distort posture, many features of modern life curtail our natural movement patterns.

(Liz Koch)

Taijiquan

Taijiquan is concerned with
re-training the body for optimal functioning.
To use the body skilfully, you must dynamically balance muscles within the body and use the bone structure in a healthy way.
We teach people to become incredibly aware of their own bodies.


Bones

Correct alignment of the body will enable you to use your body with less effort and greater strength.
Counteracting the force of gravity is a key consideration.
The vertebrae and joints must be free to move in a fluid, smooth manner.


Movement

Physical tension and bad muscular habits impede the ability to move spontaneously and freely.
Tension is the enemy of movement.
The more tense you are, the less you can move.


Muscles

Muscles serve two main functions: they help to hold the skeleton upright and they move the bones.
To move bones, one muscle releases (lengthens) and the other contracts (shortens) - this is healthy and normal.
The ideal measure of muscle tone is that you employ only as much contraction or release as is required to accomplish the task.
This is usually far less than you think...


Tensing-up

People fail to release a contracted muscle after it has moved the bone, or they over-use one muscle group at the expense of another.
'Tensing-up' is the habitual over-contraction of a muscle, such that it impedes joint movement and distorts the skeleton.
This causes imbalance, weakness and postural tension.


Mind/body unity

Modern life involves a lot of boring activities. People are accustomed to daydreaming or 'spacing out'.
Taijiquan necessitates complete attention. It helps the mind to become calm and centred.


Nervous system

The nervous system is responsible for gauging how much strength needs to be applied.
As you exert pressure upon an object, your body experiences resistance and there is biofeedback which tells you how much strength is necessary.


Faulty

Over time, the nervous system of most adults has become faulty, and it provides the
brain with inaccurate information.
Instead of applying only the necessary amount of strength, it is normal and comfortable to use an incredible excess.
This fatigues the muscles, blunts the nervous system and makes you clumsy.

Taijiquan represents optimal body movement, honed over centuries.

(Jessica Rose, PhD)


Optimal body

The aim of taijiquan is to teach and encourage optimal body use.
A body that is capable of spontaneous movement in any direction; comfortably, safely, with the necessary support and stability.
By sitting, standing and moving in a natural, healthy way you will feel energised, relaxed, comfortable and agile.
We encourage students to be fresh and open, supple and curious...


Little & often

Taijiquan advocates moderation; not taxing or tiring the body.
Rather than train for a lengthy period of time, aim to practice little & often.
20-30 minute increments, with rest breaks in-between is ideal.
Instead of pushing your body hard and putting it under duress, just do a little exercise.
Resting will keep your concentration sharp and offset fatigue.


Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 18 May 2017