Tomorrow Oregon State plays Stanford, whose Heisman-worthy quarterback is Andrew Luck. A few days ago on the evening news, I saw a clip of Luck leveling a California defender during a run.
It was so impressive I had to search out the play on You Tube for a closer look.
Like the announcer says, Luck absorbed the attempted tackle. (Watch the closeup at about the one minute mark for the best view.)
This looks Tai Chi'ish to me. In my Tai Chi class there's a big guy who used to play high school football. Sometimes he talks about how basic Tai Chi principles like centering, grounding, non-resistance, and the like play out, so to speak, on the football field.
That's borne out by this analysis of stills from the Luck video. Luck is quoted as saying that he knocked over the safety thanks to momentum and inertia.
But a commenter differs:
As physics was my major at Stanford ...
I can tell you it’s not all about mass. Kinetic energy is proportional to velocity squared as well as mass. Even more important are things like leverage and having your feet planted.
Luck’s feet were planted, so his muscles could push against the ground to absorb the energy of Cattouse without moving Luck. You can see from the pictures of Cattouse that his feet were not planted. He launched himself against the upper half of Luck, a technique that might work if you’re blindsiding someone who’s already off balance, but not someone who’s ready for you.
Yes, that's pure Tai Chi.
You can see Luck rotating his body as he's hit while his feet are firmly planted. That enabled him to absorb the safety's energy and redirect it back onto the defender, who collapsed on the ground while Luck rambled onward down the field -- after looking surprised that he was still on his feet and the other guy wasn't.
My Tai Chi instructor does some training of athletes in various college sports: volleyball, football, track and field. There's a lot in common between seemingly way-different activities. The body only moves in certain ways. Some ways are more effective than others.
Andrew Luck's big hit on the Cal safety testifies to the importance of staying grounded while those around you are flying around. Good advice for both the football field and life in general.