Central equilibrium is an essential quality of all internal martial arts. Once you get the hang of it, it makes everything else you do easier too. When centered and balanced it is easier to function with grace and efficiency.

For the first twenty years or so of my martial arts training I assumed I knew what it meant to have central equilibrium. It was humbling to find out how superficial my understanding was, but really exciting to stumble upon a treasure that great. I had heard the term “effortless power” bandied about, but those few who actually could do it couldn’t or wouldn’t share the secret. As I approached true central equilibrium in my t’ai chi practice, I began to get glimmers.

The term central equilibrium means establishing a powerful central axis and aligning all movements to that.Body is erect and balanced.You must become aware of your center of gravity at all times and use it to create stability from which you can generate power.It’s something similar to the effect a gyroscope has on anything attached to it.You can see this effect in a bicycle.An unmoving bike won’t stay upright, but when the wheels start spinning it can go for miles.The spinning wheel stabilizes the two-wheeler.Central equilibrium does the same for your body.Your center becomes the hub of the wheel.

Something unexpected happens as you tune into it. You aren’t just better balanced: you get rooted. By that I mean you generate a powerful energetic connection with the earth. Your feet get nailed to the ground (until you decide to move them). Your effective power gets seriously amplified. That is, you can learn to increase your apparent strength dramatically without increasing your muscle power. In this video, students are introduced to this idea and get to feel its effect for themselves:

(If you can’t view this video go to YouTube)

An even subtler (and maybe more powerful) effect is that you also connect up to the yang chi from the sky through the crown point of your head.It takes a lot of practice to discern this quiet flow, but it is powerful nonetheless.This “heaven ch’i” replenishes and restores us.It descends through the crown chakra like white light through a prism, and each chakra receives vital energy and information at the appropriate frequency.

Central equilibrium allows you to tune your relationship between the earth and the heavens.As you approach optimum alignment, you begin to tap into the Big Ch’i.You start to ride the wave of a bigger energy than your own.

That’s where the fun begins.

How do we do it?

I’ll give some hints in my next post.