The 70 Percent Rule
At the heart of all we teach is the 70 Percent (Two Thirds) Rule. Simple in meaning, it has very deep roots and is an essential principle of learning Tai Chi and Qigong for health and longevity and is at the heart of Taoist practices.
Living and learning in moderation is a very alien concept to many of us who are part of the go-for-the-burn, no-pain-no-gain philosophy of the modern world.
Strain can be seen as a result of breaking the 70% rule - it is a physiological condition caused by excessive exercise or too much tension / adrenaline. This shouldn't be confused with effort, which may left you feeling tired and exercised, but not physically, emotionally or mentally injured.
And the rule is...
Practise towards life. Quite simply, by completing any Tai Chi or Qigong technique to only 70% of your current capacity you can:
- absorb what you learn more easily.
- reduce your internal resistance & maintain the effort for longer.
- store your energy for a time when you really need it.
- increase your capacity as you practise, without stress.
- enable the body's natural ability to heal.
For example, many of us have one side of our body that is weaker than the other, for whatever reason. When applying the 70% rule to movements on the weaker limb/side, you should reduce the range of movement on your stronger side to match the range of the weaker side. This maintains balance in your postures and focuses on developing the weaker side, as well as stopping the stronger from 'stealing' Qi from the weaker.
Importantly, this rule assumes you are in normal health. If you are experiencing stress or discomfort at a physical, emotional or mental level, you must adjust the percentage rule to suit your condition. Always check with a qualified medical practitioner to get their advice about the suitability of exercise for your condition. You should adjust the amount of effort and practice according to how you feel. Some people with chronic pain for example, may find that they need to work right down at a 2% range, that to many would look as though they are barely moving. If you have an injury that is healing and you’ve been told it’s OK to do some gentle exercise, you may choose to use the 20% rule for a while until you feel a release occur, then you may practise using the 30% rule for a while and so on, to gradually return your body to a normal balance at 70%. The same principle applies to mental and emotional stresses, in holistic terms these stresses affect your body and you should be gentle and compassionate with yourself.