Some Simple Techniques to Remember and to Respond in Times of Emergencies

One of my Taiji students mentioned to me that several years ago, her mom was crossing the street in Taiwan when a car suddenly appeared behind her honked her horn.  She fell to the ground out of fear and was unable to walk due to the injury to her tailbone when she fell.  Because she also had Osteoporosis and poor kidney function, the doctor did not recommend surgery, and she could only lie in bed for about half a year, before she passed away.  Her mom was 91 at the time of the incident, and she passed away at age 92.

This caused my friend to ask “are there some simple techniques that could have helped an elderly person to respond in an unexpected emergency situation similar to what her mom encountered several years ago.

This led me to write the following article “Some simple techniques to remember and to respond in times of emergencies.”

The most talked about martial arts stance is the “horse stance,” as shown in the first photo below.  However. In terms of stability, that is not necessarily the most important stance, which is the stance as shown in the second picture below (the Chinese characters “Taiji Wild Horse Shakes Its Mane” refers to the name of that stance):

To go from the first photo (the horse stance) to the 2nd photo (wild horse shakes its mane), you make the following shifts:

  1. You shift from looking at the front by looking at your left
  2. You move your left foot over to your left from your right foot by about half-a-shoulder to a whole-shoulder-width
  3. Your left foot from the knee down should be straight
  4. Your right foot should be about one step behind your left foot with your weight evenly distributed between your right foot and your left foot
  5. Your body should be upright mostly over your left foot

Note that with this stance, your body weight is supported by both feet.  With your two feet separated by about a shoulder width, you are able to withstand a minor push to try to get you off balance or cause you to fall.  Furthermore, both of your hands can be used to block or defend yourself, or to use them to grab or hold on something, or even to counter attack if the occasion warrants it.

A similar stance (a mirror image of the second photo above) can also be used by looking to your right, instead of looking at your left.  Then instead of having your left leg vertical from the left knee downward, you have your right leg vertical from your right knee downward.

The above bodily arrangement is typical of Taiji in the sense that you don’t place your two feet along the same straight line, but your two feet are separated by a shoulder width which provides stability from being pushed.  Your bodily weight is firmly supported by your two feet.  Your hands are free to be used to grab hold of something, to defend yourself, or even to counterattack. 

I think with such simple adjustments, an elderly person, as well as anyone else, can be mentally prepared to handle similar unexpected emergency situation.  Of course, the person has to be properly trained so that when such an emergency occurs, the response should be automatic, instead of needing to remember what you might have learned in the past, thus leading to panicking.

Of course, due to her senior age and no previous experience or training, it is possible that such a technique might not have worked for my friend’s mom.  But for someone younger and with training in Taiji, the above technique could have avoided that terrible incident.

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