"T'ai Chi for Beginners," or "War and Peace"


If there is one thing I cannot stand (and, really, is one ever enough?), it is sloth. That is why I took up the ancient Chinese art of T'ai Chi in an effort to improve my backswing. Some people believe that T'ai Chi is only good for providing work for words which end in "i." This is malarkey. T'ai Chi consists of a series of slow-motion, choreographed exercises (developed some 1200 years ago by Anonymous, and don't think for a minute he ever lets you forget it) in a state of relaxation so complete you could do them in your sleep, which would certainly be preferable.


Every human being, you see, is filled with a life force called "chi." (Some of us are more full of it than others). Performing T'ai Chi helps this life force flow through one's body freely, especially if one keeps in mind the simple proportions of gin and vermouth required for lubrication. As Karbunkel discusses in his "T'ai Chi Ist Fur Die Verliebten," the T'ai Chi enthusiast increases his flexibility, longevity and flatulence, if used as directed.


To begin with, you must first become acquainted with your "dan tien." (A simple "How's the Missus?" will do). The dan tien is your energy center, a point located 1 to 3 inches (or .29 fathoms) below the navel. "Move from the dan tien!" is the common cry of the T'ai Chi instructor, especially if the dan tien is blocking the drink cart.


To begin T'ai Chi, take a stance on your front lawn, placing your feet about shoulder-width apart and breathing deeply into your dan tien, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Next, swivel your hips in a "hula" fashion while gradually bending your knees until you are attracting small children laughing scornfully. Now you are on the right track! Extend your arms outward as far as you can. If you find it hard balancing, remove the olive from your martini, and you are back in business. Finally, well, this is usually as far as I get before I start chasing the children with a stick, but you get the idea of the thing.


You, the T'ai Chi novice, will soon be learning routines like "Stretch Bow to Shoot Tiger (Then Run Like Hell)" and "Flying Bees Through Leaves," although the latter is one procedure which is best left to T'ai Chi experts. Believe you me, the honey is not worth it. However, during my years touring with "Pinafore," I perfected a few of my own exercises, like "Arising With A Hangover" and "Hiding A Dropped Ash With Your Shoe." My "Drawing To An Inside Straight" is not half bad either, if viewed from a prone position.


In conclusion (where I always go this time of year, for the dry heat), I stand behind T'ai Chi as a wonderful aid to health. I will admit, however, it has insinuated its way into my chip shot something awful.