If someone gives me a surprise shove I will likely do a quick jump or stumble and quickly recover my balance on two feet. The same is true for most people, it’s not a special skill. No other animal can stand on two feet and take a shove with out falling down, even bears have a high falling down rate. When we learn to walk as toddlers we naturally train our dantian’s to do this complex job. The recovery of balance is lightning fast. If I contemplate the physics of it, there must be an internal counterbalance functioning unconsciously. Somehow my mass absorbs all the momentum of the push and moves my center of mass very quickly back and forth, up and down and left and right until it is directly above my feet again. Again, it is too fast to perceive. What I am aware of is the space around me, perhaps sharp objects, the surface of the ground, a wall or a tree. My guess is that if I misperceived a slanted wall as vertical, or a sloping ground as level, I might actually fall down or stumble for a bit longer. But a functioning spatial mind can make corrections very quickly. In fact, it might actually function better at high speeds. How else could we explain the ability to run through a forest down a steep hill. The spatial mind controls the dantian, as a counterweight, unconsciously and instantaneously, bringing us back to balance.
This basic function of the dantian can be transferred to higher order skills like skiing, carrying a long ladder through an obstacle course, rock climbing or gymnastics. Of course, all animals have a similar skill which they use on four feet or in the air if they are birds.
Normal humans however, only use the dantian for this one type of task. When we throw a ball, or pick up a pen to write our name, we are using our brains in a very different way. Or, like when we are rock climbing, we use the same set of balance and vertical orientation skills simply applied in a different context.
Pure Internal Martial Arts are unique because they use the dantian to respond to forces other than gravity. To paraphrase George Xu, “When you touch any part of my body, you are touching the dantian.” The best video demonstration of this I know of is this one by Ma Yue Liang:
Not everyone can learn internal martial arts (that would be communism), but proof that nearly everyone has a functioning dantian is apparent in our natural ability to recover our balance.