Learning to Reel Silk!
Learning the art of Tai Chi involves discovering new ways of moving. One of the more unusual ideas in Tai Chi is that of ‘silk reeling’ movement. Nearly 5,000 years ago the Chinese developed ‘sericulture’, a method of producing silk from the rearing of silkworms. They discovered that in order to successfully extract the silk thread from the cocoon of the silkworm it was necessary to move smoothly and continuously. If you moved too fast, or with jerky movements and changed direction the thread broke, move too slowly and the thread stuck to itself and became tangled.
This type of ‘silk reeling movement’ is used when performing the Tai Chi Short form. Students learn how to move in a slow, relaxed, continuous manner just like reeling silk from a cocoon. In order to produce this movement, it is necessary to become mentally calm and to concentrate on the physical sensations in the joints and muscles which helps distract the student from the worries of daily life.