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Tucking the Tailbone is NOT a Myth

Tucking the tailbone is NOT a myth and for those that say it is, well...their teacher, obviously, was not properly taught the true meaning behind the word "tuck."  So, the first step to clearing up the widespread confusion is to re-examine the real meaning behind the word "tuck." And, if you are looking for more power in your tai chi, learn the proper way to tuck the tailbone for better posture and you won't regret it.

According to Arthur T. Orawski, author of Tai Chi: A Personal Learning Experience, you have to learn how to condense chi energy before you can explode, punch and transfer your internal power efficiently into your opponent. Tucking in the tailbone properly is a key link in the process of condensing chi into a more powerful punch.

Tucking in the tailbone, however, continues to be one of the more puzzling concepts in the martial arts world. Some say the tucked position is a source of power. Others say it is the single most destructive posture that leads to both physical and emotional problems.

Or is it a tricky deception? Could it really be disinformation propagated by a few Chinese Tai Chi masters that refused to share their internal energy secrets with non-Chinese students?

If the art of tucking, as taught by some martial arts masters, is truly a deception then good luck has brought you here today because this article will help you unravel its secrets.

Tucking has been traditionally used as a method to teach students better posture for structural stability. The way it has been described by some martial arts instructors is tucking and holding the hips to flatten and eliminate the natural lumbar curve of the spine. With the tailbone tucked in properly, you theoretically should be able to cleanly connect the foot to the fist without anatomical kinks in order to transfer internal energy for maximum punching power.


Tucking the tailbone is NOT a myth, but you will have to relearn the meaning of the word "tuck."

Unfortunately, the word "tuck" is often misunderstood in its meaning and subsequently the tailbone tucking practice itself. Could the problem originate in its translation from chinese to english? If so, the best way to begin to understand how to tuck is by substituting the word "tuck" with its synonyms like pinch, wrap, gather, make snug, squeeze in, and constrict. See and feel the tuck as more of a pinching of the tailbone.

What's another word for tuck?
The phrase 'tucking in the tailbone' was first coined by Yoga Gurus and Tai Chi Taoist Masters that emigrated to the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century. Today, after more than 40 years of Americans failing to understand the simple teaching, the most common responses to the idea are:
        • It should not be be taken literally.
        • Rather than bending the hips and tucking under, you should lengthen your spine into a centered and straight position.
        • It is not tucking that you do yourself, it just happens.
The origin of all the confusion is most likely a miscommunication translating Chinese to English. The concept of tucking might be better understood if a different word were used to describe it. According to Thesaurus.com, some synonyms for the word tuck are:
        • pinch
        • wrap
        • constrict
        • gather
        • make snug
        • squeeze in

Pinch-Wrap™ your tailbone.
So, in reality, when you tuck in the tailbone you really "Pinch-Wrap™ it. Like tucking a child into bed. Keep that image in your mind and your tai chi will skyrocket.

To tuck properly, change the thinking so that the tailbone does not tuck "in" and under the hips. Disregard the position of the hips and wrap the mind around the tailbone itself. Focus on the tailbone and use the mind and body to gather it "inward" in addition to the remaining directions including up, down, forward, backward, left and right.  Squeeze chi into the tailbone while mentally and physically stretching it apart to allow a greater flow of chi energy through it.

Tucking the tailbone is a complicated concept to unravel but not impossible for the average martial artist to do if one looks to the Ouroboros to help learn the proper tucking mechanism. The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a snake, serpent, or dragon with its tail in its mouth, or eating its own tail. It symbolizes the 'dawn state' with a sense of something constantly recreating itself in a circular movement. It is immortality. In western medicine it is DNA.

Ouroboros meditation gives one a feel for the correct tucking mechanism. It helps one discover how to use the mind to properly tuck and condense chi into the tailbone. Attacking energy can then travel uninterrupted from the foot to the tailbone, up the spine and outward through the arms for its final shot out the fist. 

Tucking is not an easy concept to understand but Ouroboros meditation will help one get it right. Here are six of the basic steps to it:

    1. Stand upright with all the joints slightly bent and relaxed.
    2. Keep the feet relaxed and flat on the ground.
    3. Like a puppy dog chasing and catching its tail in its mouth, imagine that the tailbone can be reached with the mouth and gently squeeze it between the teeth.
    4. Next use the mind to stretch the achilles tendon between its two main attachments at the heel and femur. It should feel as if one is pulling back the string on an archery bow.
    5. Activating the achilles to its maximum stretch will help pull the tailbone downward toward the heel while the teeth tug it upward toward the crown point. The entire process condenses potential energy into the body's complex bow system of skeletal bones and tendons.
    6. The punch is now powered up and ready to shoot a fisted missile of energy at the target.

Once one becomes experienced with the Ouroboros the student should have a pretty good feel for tucking the tailbone in the up-down, heel-to-crown-point direction. Now the he/she is ready to dig deeper into the other six directions by examining the mysteries of the pelvic floor. But first let us answer some questions about the lower dan tien and how tucking affects the flow of energy.


Where is the lower dan-tien?

How do you correct a bad habit of improper tucking after years of practicing the wrong way?

One has to immediately stop thinking that the lower dan tien energy center is 2-3 inches below the navel and a couple inches into the abdomen. Switch the mind's eye into seeing and feeling the lower dan tien as being 3 inches 'above' the pubic bone and a couple inches to the 'front' of the spine. By bringing one's attention closer to the pelvic floor the student will find it easier to connect the lower energy center with the tailbone and its link in controlling the flow of chi up the spine and out the fist.


Tucking helps direct the flow of chi.

In reality, tucking the tailbone is not a position of the hips or tailbone but an energetic movement along the acupuncture central meridian channel at the hui-yin point. Tucking the tailbone is not the same as tucking the hips although the hips will adjust to the tailbone movement. For advanced martial arts practitioners it is mental and not as much physical. 

In order to grasp the right idea, the student must completely relax the body and mind into the floor of the pelvic cavity. Only then can the complex anatomy and physiology that extends from the pubic bone to the tailbone (coccyx) and between the sitting bones of the pelvis be felt and analyzed.

There are a number of specific mental visualizations and physical exercises that help one become familiar with the workings of the pelvic cavity, including pubic bone and tailbone. With practice using the mind, one can literally tuck, tug, pinch, squeeze and wrap the tailbone in the manner suggested by the Ouroboros for proper posture and chi flow.

Tucking the tailbone also prepares the martial artist for emitting energy. The anatomy and physiology behind it is complex but the main muscle of interest is the pubococcygeus, a hammock-like muscle that stretches from the pubic bone to the tailbone. In Chinese, the muscle is called hui-yin. It functions in urine flow, orgasm, childbirth, core stability, and the secret energy art of fa-jin.


Tucking triggers fa-jin.

Fa-jin is a martial arts term used to describe the mechanism of projecting chi force. The coccyx in most people has a little flexibility in it and when the pubococcygeus muscle is contracted the tailbone tucks in a bit which loads the tai chi bow, head to toe, with stored potential energy. Before chi energy is released, either for healing or martial arts, the bow must first be pulled back. The root and suspension engaged. Releasing the bow shoots the arrow of chi energy.

Martial artists must have total control of and a strong hui-yin pubococcygeus muscle. In the Western world Kegel pelvic floor exercises are widely used to strengthen the muscle. Lesser known Chinese sexual qigong exercises, however, are more effective to control and strengthen it.

In its exercise, male sexual qigong masters use their testicles to lift weights while women use an eggto work the pelvic floor muscles. Sexual qigong practice prepares seasoned martial artists for the powerful and deadly attacking force of fa-jin. Today, it is simple to purchase weighted penis ringssold by Private Gym and interactive smartphone apps such as KGoal that help exercise the pelvic floor muscles, but at the time of this writing these systems aren't teaching how to project attacking power during martial arts combat.

  

Tuck the 'hammock' tight.

During combat the martial artists has to make the 'hammock' vibrate by pulling the fei-yin muscle(hui-yin) upwards using mind and muscle. A very gentle muscular contraction starts the tai chi ball spinning. Once the ball of chi starts spinning the coccyx and heel connect making way for chi to be shot up the spine and outward through the arms.

The book Taichi: A Personal Learning Experience, by Arthur T. Orawski, gives some insight into the "hammock" and its mysterious connections with tucking in the tailbone, the hui-yin muscle, the coccyx muscle, tendon insertions, nerve innervations, and fa-jin energy projection.


Overview

This article helps both novice and experienced martial artists properly interpret the concept "tucking in the tailbone" for structural integrity. It teaches some basic human anatomy of the pelvic floor as it relates to the tailbone. It also describes a basic physical exercise which when combined with mental visualization helps martial artists practice the technique properly.

Learning to tuck properly is a subtle skill that begins with the mind and ends with a more powerful punch. Ouroboros meditation is one of the best places to start tucking practice for a more powerful punch.


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