I think it was Iain Dowie who first used the word: bouncebackability. And a new word was created – what is referred to as a neologism. With the support of ‘Soccer AM’, it even entered the dictionary I believe. Bouncebackability: (especially in sport) the ability to recover from a setback.
So how is this relevant to Tai Chi? Well, I could quote the classics – The jin is broken, but the yi is unbroken – from ‘The Fighter’s Song’. Therefore we could consider this from the perspective of ‘intent’, but I’m going to leave that till another time. For now, I’ll make it more personal.
A few weeks or so ago I was on a trampoline. Silly perhaps and, don’t get me wrong, I’m not good at it – yet. I’m not a veteran or anything; in fact, I’ve not been learning that long – it’s a bit of fun, possibly part of a mid-life crisis, but good fun nevertheless. Except a couple of weeks ago it wasn’t much fun. I was on the trampoline with another person. In case you don’t know, it’s never wise to have two people on a trampoline, and so it turned out. Without going into details, I ended up bouncing on my head. My weight came down – the other person’s weight came up with the bounce of the trampoline bed and… Crack! Bent my neck right over. Ouch!
For the briefest fraction of a second, I wondered if I’d still be able to move my legs – I could, but something was definitely not right. Immediately my neck was stiffening; muscles tensing all across the shoulders and spasming down the back.
I moved very carefully the rest of that week, like someone doing a bad robot impression and any kind of neck movement hurt. It’s the closest I’ve come to whiplash – I’m sure many personal injury lawyers encourage people with far less damage from car accidents to apply for whiplash compensation. I decided the best way to deal with this was exercise (Tai Chi exercises to be specific), maintaining movement, relaxing muscles and correcting posture. So this is what I did: exercise. After one week, I still had restricted movement; after two, I was almost back to normal; and after three, there was only the occasional twinge.
I believe this injury might have dragged on and on, and I apportion my swift recovery to Tai Chi. Now, if you look, there are many claims, by many schools of Tai Chi about physical, mental and spiritual benefits, many justified, some a little far-fetched and some absolute… er… balderdash – but until you experience these benefits for yourself, they are difficult to appreciate. Medical studies prove the benefits of Tai Chi through numbers and statistics, but personal experiences are less quantifiable. I noticed my brother’s experience following a car crash in an earlier blog and, similarly, my recovery was relatively swift and now seems complete. Is that bouncebackability? I think so.