A magazine of martial and movement arts, with a focus on the internal style of Tai Chi Chuan
Floating with the Waves
by Christopher Dow
In Xiao Style Chi Kung, there is a movement called Floating with the Waves. It is essentially performing Open Tai Chi over and over. Imagine that you are at the beach, standing chest deep in the water just past the breakers, where the swells rise and fall in rhythmic waves. Your arms are extended in front of you, lying relaxed on the surface of the water as you face the open ocean. As each swell surges in and out, it will buoy your arms up then lower them down.
In the early 1970s, I was married to a woman named Connie who had an amazing ability to float effortlessly on those same sorts of swells. We’d go out there, and she’d just float on her back, totally at ease and at one with the water. For my part, I could float for only a very short time before my legs and arms would begin to drag me down.
Connie was a water sign—a Cancer—so maybe that had something to do with her affinity with the ocean. Also, she was born on the Gulf Coast and had been playing in these waters since she was a child. More likely, though, is that her body mass index almost perfectly equalled that of sea water. Whatever the reason, she could lie there as long as she wanted, expending absolutely no energy, yet riding the variations of energy waves coming her way with perfect ease and absolutely no resistance. So blended was she within her element that, as I watched her, it seemed to me as if her body almost magically rippled along with the water, mimicking every tiny variation in its flow.
She, of course, thought nothing of it for it was effortless on her part.