So far I've spent about two hours on my recently acquired longboard skateboard.
Given how few 63 year old guys (and even fewer gals, likely) spend any time on a skateboard, I figure this makes me a skateboard sage -- mostly by virtue of lack of competition for the title.
My skills are limited. But my venerable sagely wisdom is not, in my own mind at least.
So if you're still awake after viewing this video of my most recent longboarding practice session, read on below it for some insights I've gotten into how my Tai Chi will relate to my skateboarding.
In today's Tai Chi class, we engaged in a "push me-pull you" sort of exercise.
Paired with another guy, he and I grasped each other's upper arms, then pushed and pulled our way around the floor, trying to maintain our balance/root in the face of unpredictable physical movement. The key, my instructor pointed out to me, was keeping my core, the center of my body, the place from which movement was controlled.
Same with longboarding, I'm starting to understand. I have to be centered on the board in order to make it go where I want it. A few times I've gotten a glimpse of how a simple mental intention is all that's needed to guide my longboard turns.
I'm beginning to get a vision of how Tai Chi and longboard skateboarding are intimately related, as is any movement art/sport and Tai Chi. Dance, soccer, skiing, golf, tennis -- these activities and so many more all involve relaxed, focused, committed, centered body/mind control which ideally ends up becoming magical flow.
What's unique about longboarding, and what it has in common with surfing and snowboarding, is that your mind/body center is resting upon a moving platform. So it's sort of like doing Tai Chi on a floor that's continually twisting and turning.
(My longboard is rigid front to back, while others have more flex; but all longboards/skateboards pivot from side to side; that's how turning occurs.)
In my skiing days, where I was a middling intermediate, I recall a moment of clarity. I was perched on top of a slope that struck me as being too steep for me to ski down with any degree of certitude that I wouldn't wipe out before reaching the bottom.
I'd cautiously snowplowed down similar slopes before, anxiously worrying all the way. This time, something snapped in me. I said "Fuck it." I dove down the slope as if I owned it. I was tired of skiing under control.
What I discovered was... trying to stay under control had been preventing me from being in control. The looser and more relaxed I was, the better I skied. Committing wholeheartedly to turns felt a lot more stable than weenie'ly trying to slow myself down via V-shaped snowplowing.
This is a central tenet of Tai Chi: move with your whole body, with your whole mind. Applies to skateboarding just as much.
However, as noted above I'm definitely aware that on my longboard, the "ground" on which I rest is moving. And the real ground (asphalt, usually) beneath that is damn hard. When practicing Tai Chi I've never had the floor disappear from under me. On my longboard, I have.
(Which is why I wear gloves, knee pads, elbow pads. And when I start riding on the street, a helmet.)
Anyway, I'm looking forward to becoming a Senior Citizen Skateboard Tai Chi Sage. Like I said, the sagely competition is pretty minimal.