the Ultimate Training in Mind-Body Integration for Elite Athletes
- Tai Chi and Skiing
Susan A. Matthews,
M.S. © 2002-2013
and Shanti School offer Spiral Anatomy™ training, a specialized
form of spiral training found in Chen style taijiquan and internal
martial arts, in general.
Anatomy- Advanced Biomechanics and Mind-Movement Integration
Training. Physical biomechanical movement, visualization of
movement of internal energy, and mental or spiritual intent--all
of these components must be integrated with each other to create
effective, relaxed, whole-body movement. Power and stamina can be
obtained that strengthens bones and joints, rather than producing
wear and tear, as well as the potential for healing the body and
promoting spiritual development.
skiing had plateaued for about three years, and after only 7 weeks
of taijiquan, I rip. The change is awesome, like night and day.
Now I move with more relaxation and efficiency—it’s effortless,
like water." —Extreme skier, Todd Swanson
principles of mind, energy movement, and biomechanics used in Tai
Chi can be applied to skiing and other sports, and can enhance performance
of both novices and veterans. Many levels of integration can be
developed over time. Indeed,
these principles have value in every aspect of life, in every
movement we make, and in every breath of energy we take. Regardless
of the level of internal energy development one practices, there
are certain movement patterns, strength,
use of force, and whole and integrated body mechanics which
can be understood and utilized more immediately. This is especially
true with Tai Chi practitioners or with athletes who have already
developed a level of proficiency in their field.
I was one of the fortunate
people to have participated in your Spiral Energy class in Mission
Viejo, CA...Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.
I regard this as a turning point in my life. I feel that
my eyes have been opened to a new way of living and getting more
out of life. Thank you again.
Kathleen Black 11/20/01
approach in teaching these principles is unique because it has has
provided a model and a language for understanding this universal
mechanical and energetic movement: a pattern, which generates efficient,
relaxed, effortless movement, using less muscle and more spiraling
bone strength. By universal I mean it is based on spirals (and later
waves) which are found in all living, growing things in nature including
the way fish swim, snakes slither, birds fly, and even inherent
in why trees and seashells grow in spirals. Explore the following
Susan. I just went skiing for the first time today since taking
your class. I mean I figured it would help my skiing, but I can’t
even believe how much this has helped my skiing. It’s another
world. The whole time I was skiing I was just imagining the line
of qi all the way from the central sun (all the way down) into
the earth, through the middle of the earth, and it’s all I had
to think about. I didn’t have to think about anything else. It
was just perfect, it was just perfect. I can’t believe it. My
friend that I ski with is blown away. He can’t even believe it
either. It was just amazing. I was going faster than him for the
first time ever. He didn’t know where I was because I was always
in front. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And I’ll see you
soon. And I think I’ve talked him to taking your class too."
universal movement, I mean it is based on spirals found in all living,
growing things in nature—in the way fish swim, snakes slither, and
birds fly. The principles are even inherent in the spiraling growth
patterns of trees and seashells. If you twist or rotate, need balance,
strength, endurance, focus or speed, then you can improve that motion
through spiral training and the other elements in internal martial
the Four Corners Region, where the mountains and canyons meet, Colorado,
New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, we love outdoor recreation. I have
taught and tested the following elements of Tai Chi training with
skiers, mountain bikers, equestrians, hikers, rock climbers, golfers,
tennis players, kayakers, runners, a ski jumper/aerialist, and skate
boarders. These students report getting better, having more fun,
and having fewer injuries. Training for superior strength and power
in Tai Chi does not include training for the biggest muscles but
of Rooting: Strength and balance, a strong root, is obtained
with understanding postural alignment in gravity, lowering the center
of balance, and the mechanics of transferring weightedness and other
forces to the feet.
Lecture! I enjoyed your lecture on the Energetics
of Rooting that you gave at
Nov. 18. I am a beginning
Tai Chi student and found your talk very helpful and interesting.
Willa Valdez 11/23/01
of Spiraling Bones: "Chan SSu Chin" practice strengthens
and connects all the joints and tendons into one continuous "snake."
Physical strength with plasticity, fluidity, and relaxation can
be increased through the use of integrated "bone" power
rather than through reliance on muscular strength. Later, spiraling
contains and generates a "jin/chin/jing" or force which
can be used.
Training and Moving Qi: Training
the mind to build and direct energy to move to accomplish any action,
added to the mechanical spiral, enhances strength even more. Intent,
energy and physical can be integrated to release maximum power.
of True Grounding:
Energetically grounding/filling/connecting the physical body and
energy body with the energy outside the body helps establish a relationship
with earth and sky energy in order to flow with it naturally. Later,
this becomes an infinite source of power which can be borrowed.
Mechanics: Stable, rotational hip mechanics and using sacrum
and tailbone function in transmitting movement through the spine.
Energy Power: Dantien (abdominal region) energy rotation creates
fluidity in movement, and movement in which the body or torso moving
at the center generates all movement of the extremities.
Power: Back power is generated out of the waist and includes
connecting the dantien in front to the ming men in the low back.
Sinking the shoulders into the low back and opening (flattening)
the low back transfers shoulder power to the more powerful hips
and legs. Power stretch, a form of isometric stretching, connects
the upper and lower spine.
exercises train the practitioner to yield to the forces directed
at them, gathering, redirecting and releasing power. Thinking about
dealing with the complex forces at play in skiing and other sports
deal in a similar way is useful. The advantages of "flowing
with" rather than "fighting against" are obvious.
and Biomechanics of the Spine: The position of the hips and
sacrum, dictated by specific muscle tension in the pelvis, dramatically
effects the position, function and tension of the neck and every
other piece the body. Getting better means changing structure and
teaching each part of the body how to perform unified and energetically
integrated movement directed by singular focus on the core.
in the Spine: Zhong Ding Jin, central equilibrium force or line,
suspends the spine between Heaven and Earth, unifies yin and yang
and allows cultivation of spiritual intent.
transmission from heaven and earth through the heart is an expression
of the creative spirit of the individual, beautiful, wise and full
body mechanics, along with postural corrections which improved
my hip joint mobility, have had a phenomenal impact on my skiing
and other sports. The most direct application, however, has been
in skiing. I have skied since I was a kid. My dad was a ski instructor.
I skied most every weekend in high school then took a good many
years off while living in Austin, TX . I got back on skis and
started tai chi with Susan Matthews last year. After one season
I have reached a whole new level by incorporating the ‘backwards
bicycle’ and ‘spiraling’ throughout the entire body. Instead of
using a great deal of energy and strength, I can easily relax
into my skiing groove with solid carving turns." Tracy
is 36 years old, has 25 years experience as a skier, eight years
as a martial artist, and is a mountain bike enthusiast. Tai Chi,
like all-internal martial arts, can be described in terms of physical
biomechanical movement, visualization of movement of internal energy,
and mental or spiritual intent. All of these components, must be
integrated with each other to create effective, relaxed, whole-body
movement. Done properly, this movement is full of power, which can
be gathered and released, and also contain the potential for healing
the body and for promoting spiritual development.
Matthews is a scientist who teaches taiji. She approaches the
study and practice of this ancient Chinese martial art form as a
scholar who has trained extensively in neuroscience, biomechanics
and anatomy. She does taiji for her own health, self-defense, and
strength training and teaches what she knows to students who approach
their own professional and personal lives with equal vigor.
Susan Matthews is available
for seminars to private groups and businesses. Design your own or
choose from the following programs: Cultivating a Daily Practice
Qigong for Blood Circulation, Women’s Health, Rejuvenation and Longevity,
Arthritis and Chronic Illnesses, Tai Chi in the Workplace, Advanced
Biomechanics and Mind Control for Superior Athleticism, Advanced
Biomechanics and Orthopedic Integration for Medical Professionals.
and qigong strengthen and tune the body so that it becomes like
a violin string.
When plucked by the mind, it is able to transmit energy with vigor:
for health, for healing, for spiritual wisdom.
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