My Talk on 10/18/04 at a Celebration for Elaine Summers
In the early 1970s, my upper back was so painful that I had to lie down numerous times a day for relief. In 1974, one of my high school students, Kate Antrobus, noticed me lying on my back on the floor and asked me what was wrong. When I told her, she said, “You should go to my teacher, Elaine Summers. She can teach you how to help your back. She is a genius. She’s amazing. She has balls of all sizes all over her loft.”
I did find out that Elaine was a genius, that she was amazing, and that she could help my back. It was true that she had balls of all sizes all over her loft. I also found out that she was loving, patient, humorous, wise, and willing and able to share her knowledge-all to an extraordinary degree. If it weren't for her, with my back the way it was, I would have probably been incapacitated a long time ago.
When she taught me the correct alignment of my ankles and knees, and I put what she taught me into practice, a knee injury I had had for three years healed in only two weeks. She taught me the correct way to stretch plus methods for healing and learning natural movement through her ball exercises.
Her approach to movement and her ability to teach the difference between contraction tension and extension tension has allowed me to understand what, in T’ai Chi, is the widely misunderstood distinction between li (“awkward force”) and jin (“correct force”).
Over the years, through Elaine's teachings, I have been able to help many people overcome flat feet, pronated knees, hyper extended knees, swayback, and other maladies. Her influence has gone out to tens of thousands of people through my books and videos, in which, her ideas and teachings play a prominent part.