Knee, Ankle & Hip Joints in Good Balance
(What position should they be in?)
As with any physical activity performed moving on the feet, the Tai Chi person relies on the legs to be stable when standing as well as when moving. Given that Tai Chi is built upon martial experiences, the need for good strong balance must be of some importance. Even those not aiming for martial capability will benefit from good balance because it provides the environment for the body to relax.
We know however that strong leg muscles alone do not confer strong balance. Tai Chi practice instead aims for correct alignment of the legs to avoid making the legs work in ways they are not constructed to do.
Note that the knee and ankle are hinge joints, while the hip joint is a ball and socket. As you would know, hinges are not meant to be twisted; ball and socket joints are much more adjustable. Putting weight on a knee and/or ankle joint held in a twisted state is to invite injury - you would not want to practise Tai Chi incorrectly and injure yourself in the process!
Let me get to the point. This is the rule:
Your knee should always be pointing in direction of the toes. Iím not talking about "knee above toes"; no Ė Iím saying that if you do not wish to twist your knee or ankle, you must keep your toe and knee pointing in the same direction. Another approach: To not twist your knee or ankle, the thigh bone, shin bone and foot must be in the same plane.
Give up? Look instead at the drawings. Notice how the legs are held and aligned without twisting their hinge joints. You now have a "good horse", as they say in the Chinese.
Inner Strength Tai Chi Chuan