Zensekai (zen's world under sail)

The sailing adventures of s/v Zen and crew

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tai Chi, Sailing and Laser racing

Yup this is one of those post. I read the Tillerman's, a well respected sailing blogger's post about racing and taking snapshots views instead of video . What he started doing, by seeing "snapshots" is what I will expand on but, I will to speak on it from different perspective and another level. Anyway he got me to thinking, sometimes that is dangerous an old girl friend use to say, one reason why she is an old gf, remarks like that, but I digress...

Once a upon a time not so long ago the T-man asked for suggestions on what he should so to help his training. I said Tai Chi. He no doubt thought I was being humorous. I was not. Explanation to follow later...

We say Kung Fu helps with everything you do , it is not just about fighting. That is the smallest part of the training.

One of my old teachers who was not a Tai Chi Master but a Arnis /Kali Master, that knew Taichi at least the principals & fundamentals, many of which were used in Kali ( A Philippine martial art). He was hired to work with the Dallas Cowboys at one of their camps. Why you may ask, because he could help them move and deal with energy.

Now that is only one part of expanded use of Tai Chi, which I have spoken of before. As in dealing with wind energy and the transfer of that to the boat and sailing.

Now, we have another saying the Kung Fu makes you more "aware". As in, aware of yourself and your environment as well as others around you. Feeling the "vib" as I call it, or as they said in Star Wars the "force" Tai Chi is a form of Kung Fu. In Tai Chi we start with that awareness training internally, within ourselves and learn to expand that to others. To know your opponent first you must know yourself.

We start with the single form, learning about our body, how to balance it. Then we move to partner practice, where we learn more about ourselves and balance, our weak points our strong points. Next step is expanding that "awareness" to your partner their balance their weak points when they move, & when they are still. Using that expanded awareness you learn to contract or expand that awareness, extending the force field you can say. Expanded, walking through a strange area, looking , feeling for something strange, danger or in the case of sailing feeling the wind, looking/feeling for shifts, feeling the boat, the water. Is it balanced, am I balanced in it, if I was sitting in another position would it be better balanced with itself, with the water, with the wind. Same as if using a weapon or a double weapon, the weapon is no longer something that you are holding it/they is/are part of you. You and it/them must be in balance, the old be one with the weapon saying. In this case, being one with the boat, wind and water.
With a partner feeling their weight shift, the balance change, tension. Learning to read their body. In awhile you can do that without touching them, seeing how the body is set, weighted to move.

So, in racing and sailing we need to be aware of the wind changes, patterns. Taking in the environment, feeling and seeing not just what is in front of us, but small changes in the water, the body of the competition. Looking feeling, sensing, seeing small things while looking at big things...
Not only the wind, but the feel of your boat & yourself everyday we are a little different. The training, forms, breathing, drills helps us stay as centered, balanced as much as possible...aware. Add to that the mind/mental state of being in meditation, calm, but actively aware.
The more aware you are and better able to use that on multi levels the better you sail.


  • At 7:06 AM, Blogger Val said…

    Wonderful, wonderful masterly description! I shall spread the news about it to all my friends who are involved in t'ai chi or sailing...or both!

    Gonna print this off! (if that's OK Zen?)

  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger Zen said…

    I am honored Val...go for it!

  • At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is an outstanding lesson, Zen. It illustrates one of the myriad of benefits I receive from Tai Chi; which is 'living in this moment'.

    Ultimately, there is no past. There is no future. Life exists only in this moment, and now in this moment, and again in this one.

    Tai Chi helps harmonize contradicting energy. It can bring a magnificent clarity to the here and the now.

  • At 11:56 AM, Blogger Zen said…

    Well said Roya-san!

  • At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Beckyjaine said…

    Nice site! I am enjoying photos and reading...trying to catch up with your comings and goings.


Post a Comment

<< Home

  • Vice-Commodore - International Yacht Club
  • Join us on Yahoo groups
  • We can make a difference