The Ball

George Xu used a surprisingly counter intuitive definition of a ball the other day.

The term "ball" gets used in martial arts and qigong all the time.  Of course there's "ball up you firsts," but there are lots of other uses.  The term ball is used as a metaphor, a verb, and as a spacial description.  George Xu was using it to mean something else entirely.

Here are the most common uses of "ball'

  • Imagine you are sitting on a large ball

  • Imagine you are holding a ball in your palm

  • Imagine you are holding a ball using your arms and torso

  • Imagine you are inside of a ball

  • Imagine a ball next to you or behind you

  • Turn, roll, bounce, shake, spin or compress and expand one of the above balls you have imagined (but actually do the movement

  • Align your body and limbs in arcs, which are part of imagined balls, now move the balls

  • Have your arms connect to each other through your opponent (this one is actually a ring)

  • Connect your arms to each other or a leg or both legs, or through space using an imagined ball

I could probably keep going.  Am I missing anything big?  Any other uses of the term ball in martial arts?

The definition George Xu gave me was in someways more concrete.  He said a ball, like a basketball for instance, has a skin, a surface thickness.  As a ball inflates, deflates, rolls or bounces, the dynamic pressure on the surface of the ball must change.  The surface of our physical body is like the thick skin of a basket ball.  It is capable of changing in tone, or being stretched around a curved surface.  Use the surface of your body like a ball.

When you practice gongfu, you must always "have a ball."