Gorillas do not lift weights, so why do you?

Have you ever wondered why gorillas are estimated to be fifty times as strong as a human, yet you never see one in a gym pumping iron? Or, how a little cat can jump up to and above ten feet in the air, when you never see them training to do so? They use internal power.

Internal power is when a body uses gravity to its fullest. When we consider why gorillas are so strong, we look to their massive arms and chest, and assume this is the source of their superhuman power. We rarely consider their legs, and why gorillas move closer to the ground than humans. The center of gravity for gorillas is in the waist, yet you will rarely see a gorilla standing upright like a human. Even when gorillas are fighting they keep their knees bent to lower their center of gravity, to enhance their balance.

When we move upright we are fighting against gravity. We bend our knees and elbows, and scar the tissue around our bones, causing muscle. On a vehicle, the coils or springs inside our shocks soften impact. The spring creates stability too; with compression the spiral becomes strong and loaded. Any amateur carpenter knows the saying “why nail when you can screw”. The nail does not root into the wood or steel, and can be easily removed, bent, or broken. By fighting gravity our entire lives our bones and joints become brittle and tired as the years pass.

In everyday movement we do not use spirals, thus, we do not have the ability to jump like a cat or have the speed or strength of a gorilla. As spirals compress, one half goes down and the other raises, this is the theory of complimentary opposites. Also known as ying and yang, a theory at the foundation of Taoist religion, representing the balance between opposites, or dualism. Day and night, male and female, inert and animated, are examples of dualism. Trees are the balance between living and dead. The dead bark provides stability for the living roots and leaves to grow. Roots move using spirals, and rotation, to create stability. The trunk and branches can flex and bend with the force of gravity being disbursed, and anchored, through the roots. Trees use spirals instead of lines, so do gorillas, and cats.

The Practical Method of Chen Style Tai Chi can show us how to develop the mechanics of motion we never learned, but animals seem to posses intrinsically. This jewel of Chinese history is the embodiment of Taoism, because it is founded in the duality of anchoring and rotating. By anchoring and rotating we can lengthen our muscles and use our joints as coils to compress, pressurize, and release, instead of a hinge, and increase human power to superhuman levels. No other martial art, or sport, uses the mechanics of the body like the Practical Method of Chen Style Tai Chi. Gorillas do not lift weights, so why do you?

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  • chris bennett

    A well presented article. I like the gorilla analogy.

  • comBATON

    Well done. Can I use it to get out of my Friday workout, lol?

  • Bev

    Keep up the good work. Your analogies are very useful in helping us practise tai chi.