Sunday, February 28, 2021

warding off

What some call "warding off" is a Tai Chi movement in which one leg is planted ahead of the other and the hands push forward and as the weight shifts slightly from one leg to the other.  It's a movement very similar to that made while standing at the jointer or planing wood. 

In Tai Chi, the purpose of this movement, like other Tai Chi movements is to build strength, flexibility and mindfulness. It is modeled on movements intended to maintain a firm gravitational centeredness while engaging in defense against an aggressor. If you are firmly centered, it becomes likely that your opponent is not, and the earth will step forward in your defense, bringing down that which is beyond your own strength. 

In woodworking, understanding the relationship between your craft and your state of being centered can add significant meaning.

This movement (warding off) involves the muscular sense that tells of our own position in relation to the real world. It's a sense that affirms we are really in the world and doing real things. Paying attention to muscular sense and our relationship to the earth's gravitational force is one of the ways that our lives are made more deliberate, and engaging.  

One of the differences between warding off and working wood is that in planing or jointing, hand position becomes more critical as instead of just using the hands in a forward thrust to place the opponent at a disadvantage, the hands in planing must also determine the squareness of the tool to gravitational force in order to form a square edge.

One of the very good things about woodworking as a craft,  is that it engages the full range of bodily movement and can be practiced with intent as one would a martial art. This is one of the aspects of woodworking that will be a part of my new book, The Wisdom of Our Hands.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.


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