Poetry in Motion, Principles in Action

This video features the beautiful movement of Chen Xiaowang, a Tai Chi master, demonstrating his skills before an audience. In this incredible three-minute video, we can observe several of the principles of efficient movement about which Dr. Feldenkrais wrote and to which he dedicated his life's work. Like a piece of great music, Mr. Xiaowang's demonstration is worth watching many times over. 

  • Principle #1: Lack of Unnecessary Effort: The demonstration contains a variety of movements, from slow and flowing, to quick and ballistic (things really get going about the 3:00 mark). But notice how simply each is produced.  Some of these movements are executed with an incredible amount of power.   Notice the lack of strain in his face, even as he suddenly speeds up and slows down, and in the flow from one orientation to the next. There is a sublime continuity, always with more power in reserve.
  • Principle #2: Exquisite Counterbalance: Look how his entire body is always moving, adjusting, and how the pelvis and legs lead and support each change in direction.  He maintains a constant vigilance over how his weight is distributed evenly over his base of support.
  • Principle #3: Equal and Opposite. Watch carefully the way he uses his feet. As he moves, you can observe how he generates an equal and opposite pressure into the ground, even as he comes away from it. His legs connect him to the ground and conduct him over it in such a way that no pressure is wasted, and no weight falls---except when he wants to shake the earth.
  • Principle #4:  Ground force goes up and through the spine. Through out this demonstration, if you focus on his head, there is not a single moment where the chain of support from his contact with the ground up through the top of his head is compromised. We do not see his chin strain unnecessarily forward, or pulled in and stiffened. Each moment leads to the next, the head simply floating on top of it's beautiful support.
  • Principle #5: Ability to move in any direction without hesitation or preparation. Never is there any sense of "getting ready" to make a new movement, or stuttering to start or stop, or of holding or stopping the breath.  Each thing flows, growing out of one thing and into the next.