Whenever I looked at Tai Chi students performing their slow, mystical movements, I thought of how it could ever be a martial art. Isn’t a martial art more about speed and power than imitating a snail?
Image source: http://cc.nphoto.net/view/2008/11403.shtml
To be fast is tempting. Speed is a mask that can cover up our mistakes. A nervous speaker speaks fast. An amateur guitarist cannot play a song at half its tempo. Slowing down is a path to excellence where the route isn’t pretty. For it is paved with our imperfections.
The slow movement in Tai Chi comes from comfort with imperfection. The pursuit of excellence takes precedence over insecurity. As a Tai Chi student spends hours moving their hands out a few inches, their brain registers every movement of their joints and every muscular twitch. They observe how tension builds up in their body and replace it with energetic awareness.
Experts across disciplines slow down to imprint the right habits. A swimmer slows down to notice tension in her arms as she strokes forward. A guitarist slows down to hear his string buzz or catch a subtle tuning error. A speaker slows down to find where her intonation falters and observe where her conviction is weak.
I didn’t realize earlier that Tai Chi is meditation – where the mind’s awareness melds with the body’s movements.
Inspiration: The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin