Put Down the Duckie!

In T'ai chi, there's a saying, you never want to be "double weighted." In Great Britain it's often translated as "double heavy."

The cure for being double heavy is to differentiate substantial from insubstantial, sometimes extended to differentiating Yin from Yang.

So what does all this mean?

Well, in many ways I'm still working on it, but being double weighted essentially means not being fully committed physically to only one leg. This is why Ben Lo says, “You know, you only have one leg.” I think he means you only want to be directing your gravitational pull through one leg at a time.

You have to be willing to leave the leg you were on. Let it go. Even if you still keep 30% of the weight in it, the torso must be uncoupled from it. No active closed kinematic chains on that side, please.

To the extent that you can’t do this, you will be “split.”Like a person who has one foot on the dock and the other in the boat, you’re in a precarious position. How can you be stable? How can you be comfortable? (Remember the Classics tell us the body must be stable and comfortable)

I'm always looking for ways for us to better convey these critical concepts which can be so elusive. Watching students in shifting from one posture to another one day, I had a thought flash through my mind: it’s like we shift to the new leg but never completely let go of the leg we’re leaving.

(This can present in a number of ways: with the empty leg becoming stuck, with the hip being pulled back by the back leg in a 70/30 posture, with the body “floating,” and so on.)

The song that came to mind while watching this was “Put Down the Duckie,” an old Sesame Street classic. Ernie wants to play the saxophone, but he can’t get it right. This is because he is reluctant to put his ducky down. You need both hands to play the sax. Until Ernie is willing to let it go and put it down, he’s obstructing his own desire to play his horn.

This is all of us. We want to hold on. We need to learn how and when to let go.

Here’s the song:

Put Down the Duckie