Thursday, June 24, 2010

Your Feet Are Weak

When I graduated from high school,
I began pushing the limits of my
physical stamina. I jogged almost
every day, gradually increasing the
distance until I hit the six mile mark.

Then after my freshman year of college,
I started triathlon training. After one
month, my typical workout was a fast
20-mile bike followed by a perpetually
faster 10-mile run. This typically lasted
around three hours, which left me pretty
useless to do much else. When I rode or
ran with anyone else, I would leave them
in the dust. The catabolism ate down my
body weight to a mere 163 pounds.

In my sophomore year, I started lifting
weights and put on more than 30 pounds
of muscle. By the end of college, I had
gotten pretty big, but so was my appetite.
I continued lifting for 10 years, and did
some cross-training as well. In general,
my body was been equal to many world-
class athletes.

Then at age 31, I started Fu Tai Chi with
Grandmaster Victor ShengLong Fu.
I had to let go of most of my experience,
and my education, such as the university-
level kinesiology and the weight-training
techniques I learned from the early-ninety's
Mr. Michigan. Everything was just so
different.

Now I've been studying and practicing hard
with Fu for seven straight years. My balance
has increased so much that I can't even explain
it, other than to say my feet have reorganized
themselves.

My right foot, which has always been a little
weaker than the left, has gotten bigger, stronger,
and now the ball and big toe hurt all the time.
They have new calluses and ache from the new
way I walk, stand and move. This is not the
kind of ache you get from wearing fancy shoes
with heels; this kind of ache tells me that the
way I used to walk was babying my feet,
instead of strengthening them.

The age-old tenets of tai chi say,
"the root is in the feet." When you begin to
practice the slow twisting movements of
tai chi, your ankles will twist and your feet
will begin to clutch the earth in the same
way a tree does, or the way an eagle grasps
a tree branch. Your feet will get amazingly
stronger.

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