Dissociation vs Integration of the Body

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by TaiChiMulan, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. TaiChiMulan

    TaiChiMulan New Member

    I am a little confused about something.
    In Tai Chi, I understand that during a dynamic movement, or a 'posture,' the entire body should 'move as one', should 'integrate into itself'.
    But I find that to be counterproductive with keeping a neutral spinal alignment throughout the movement. For instance, you want your spinal column to always be in 'neutral' no matter what motion your hips / pelvis / arms / legs are doing.
    An example of this -- You don't want an anterior tilt for your pelvis, and this will happen if your hips and low back 'move as one', thus, if your hip flexors (when bending) 'drag' your lumbar spine with it into a movement. But wouldn't you have to dissociate (rather than 'integrate' )your hip flexors and your lumbar spine then, to prevent this from happening?
    This could also be said about the torso / arm connection: You don't want your torso to be 'dragged' along for the ride when your arms move, the same goes for your hip sockets and feet: one shouldn't 'drag' the other along for the ride.
    Does that mean that these body parts should be dissociated from one another, or am I just understanding 'integration' and 'moving as one' the wrong way?
    Thanks for your advice : )
  2. Avenger

    Avenger Banned Banned

    Depends what you are trying to practice, there are only guidelines for learning, when you get better you apply as needed.
  3. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    When you try to pick up a $100 bill from the ground, how will you be able to keep your spinal column in "neutral"?

    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  4. zzj

    zzj Valued Member

    Integration is not achieved by having different parts of your body 'dragging' other parts along during movements. Integration is the idea of having all your movements originate from your dantian; for example your arms do not drag your body, instead, your dantian rotation turns your waist, to your torso and finally to your arms and up to the fingertips, as 1 continuous 'integrated' movement.
  5. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    In a word, deadlift.

  6. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member


    - speed, your arm pulls/drags your body.
    - power, your body pushes your arm.

    When a fly flies over and you want to use your palms to kill it, your hand will move before any other part of your body.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  7. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    Principle of independent motion: "Waist moves independently of lower base (hips and legs) and upper base (chest and arms)."

    This principle allows for the creation of torque as a way to generate power. I can't speak for Tai Chi any further on this however.

    I think anything further is going to pull in my interpretation of the principle from other sources.

    For example, the hips and shoulders move together but independently of the waist. This is why you do not step and turn at the same time (except in an emergency). If you step and try to hook punch at the same time, the hips must move with the shoulders and you will end up uprooting yourself. If you instead step and then hook punch, or hook punch and then step... you will not uproot yourself (at least not as easily).

    Anyway, about the other point of the dragging your body behind your arm, this is not actually how that should work. Instead I recommend looking at it as a measure of perceived effort. For example, the hand moves towards the target directly. There should be nothing obvious to telegraph this movement. However, for this to happen, you must "kick start" the process from your core. It is like an explosion with your hand striking the target and your body naturally moving with it. IMHO, the "kick start" is the key to making this explosion seem effortless.
  8. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Not sure what you mean by neutral spine. That isn't a term we use. I am taught that you should hold your spine and head as if imagining a string is holding you through the top of your head. We are taught that you tuck your tailbone in slightly. That is the proper spine position.

    That does not mean you don't rotate your body or keep your spine stiffly in place.Your body rotates and you have extension in your moves.

    I think you mean disconnected when you say disassociated? This means you don't push/ punch/ etc. someone with only your hand or arm. It means the power comes up from your legs through the waist and utilizes the movement of your whole body. Take Brush Knee. the power of the push/ strike comes from shifting forward AS you twist your waist AS you move your arm forward. And we are taught the end position is not with your upper body facing exactly straight forward, but with the side of your pushing arm extended- which means your pushing shoulder is going to be past your other one. See end position in image below.

    And you achieve this by twisting your waist- keeping it connected with your shoulder. Your weak hip is not kept behind. If you are suggesting to somehow keep the spine separate from that movement, I would say that is a misunderstanding of the movement. Nothing is dragging the other. You are moving things in alignment and connected. Unless your school teaches you far differently than mine.

    But I think not, because of all the disagreements amongst TCC practitioners, I think (?) we all agree that connection of movement is something we are all taught is a basic principle.

    Also, SWCSifuBen's picture makes me think of the move" pick up needles from the sea bottom". When you do the downward part, you keep your spine straight- much like SWC Sifu Ben's picture of deadlifts and you don't bend your spine like that picture of the little girl bending down.

    I am not great at descriptions. I hope this helps some.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  9. TaiChiMulan

    TaiChiMulan New Member

    Thanks for all the replies...I'll try to keep that various info in mind.

    I guess there are many different nuances and ways of looking at a single concept.

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