August 18, 2008

Dressage the Tai Chi of Olympic sports


The New Zealand Herald reports that dressage—the "ballet" of horse training featured at the Olympics—is most like t'ai chi ch'uan. It is a sport that involves balance and flexibility, responsiveness and grace.

"For someone brought up on rugby, cricket, basketball, tennis, and boxing this one takes work to grasp its niceties. I didn’t get it, until I realised it is actually Tai Chi with four legs, six if you count the rider....[it] is slow, detailed, and requires utter concentration." (Denis Edwards New Zealand Herald 8/10/08; painting by Xu Beihong).

In a related topic, the Summer 2003 issue of Taijiquan Journal featured three articles about t'ai chi ch'uan and horses:

•"The Taiji Horse Riding Form" by Michael Stenson, a horse trainer
•"The Cauldron and the Horse: Internal Cultivation and Yijing by Zhongxian Wu, qigong master
•"All Stances are Horse Stances: Taijiquan's Equine Ancestry" by Paul Magee, acupuncturist

Limited quantities of back issues of Taijiquan Journal are still available at an Olympic special of $5 each (US orders). Offer good until September 17th, 2008. See our website for further information.

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