I was talking with an alpine climber friend the other day. He spent some time in Switzerland as a guide and teacher. Mountain climbing, at least the way he describes it, sounds very familiar to tai chi. He was describing to me some of the things he would say when interacting with clients or students. One of the things he said that resonated with me was that a big key to alpine style rock climbing is the need to save energy. A big part of tai chi is to save energy, because we only have so much given to us to work with throughout our lives. We don’t make new energy, technically. We re-access what is stuck and we save what we have.
I think many people think of exercise as giving them energy, or perhaps, by rearranging energy by loosening bound up Qi and redistributing it to fill weak empty places in our being. But saving energy shouldn’t be overlooked. I mean, what do you do with the energy we do release and make newly available? I try not o spend it on unnecessary activities. I’d rather save it for when it comes in handy.
My friend brought other similarities tai chi and mountain climbing have in common. I particularly liked the idea of grabbing the cliff edge with the center of your body and mindfully attacking the rock. Look at it, connect with it from the center of your body, then carefully place your feet and hands in strategic points. This resembles using the dantian to move and connect internally and externally.