The “Cooked Rice” symbol on our new T-Shirts

One day in China, one of Mr. Moy’s early tai chi teachers – I don’t know which one -took out a piece of paper and wrote the Chinese character for uncooked rice (米), saying, something like, “This is what tai chi is all about” or “This is the meaning of tai chi.”  Mr. Moy studied the character, reflecting on it at length – almost like studying a Zen koan.  Gradually, he began to see all the various angles manifest in the character throughout the tai chi form – not just at the end of postures where other styles end after rotating their feet – assuming the even do this.  So not just the angle of the stepping, although we usually step directly at 45 degrees – see my other notes,

The lines, angles and directions revealed in the character manifest as follows:

1) a) the direction we push either straight out(e.g. grasp bird’s tail)
1) b) up or down at 45 degrees(e.g. fair lady – up hand or brush knee – down hand)
1) c) or straight up and down (during turn and chop with fist or at the end of stork cools wings)
2) the line of the back from head to heel in full-length step forward step,

3) the angle of the lower leg to the floor in forward postures – perpendicular

4) the angle of the lower leg in “back postures” – 45 degrees to the floor

5) the angle of the spine to the floor in “back postures”

6) the angles we rotate through in transitioning between moves – usually, multiples of 45 degrees


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