Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 323
Think for a moment about yin and yang. What comes to your mind? Probably something about opposites: this and that, up and down, hot and cold, hard and soft, etc. But really, there is no such thing as yin and yang.
I bet you are saying to yourself that Michael must be crazy to make such a statement, so here is my explanation.
Yin and yang are only comparative words, words that describe something only in relation to something else. There is no absolute hot, or up, or hard, or maleness, etc. When we say that male is yang, it is only in relation to the female. And even that is not absolute, as some males are more yin than some females. A fist is considered yang in Tai Chi, yet it is yin compared to a rock, and a rock is yin compared to a diamond, etc.
The idea of thinking about yin and yang is not to end up with a vast list of what is yin and what is yang for some unknown reason, but to help people find balance in their lives, and for no other reason. If you are too hot you need to find something to cool you down. If something is too concentrated (yin) you need to find some way to dilute (yang) it.
The concept of yin and yang helps us to focus, think, reason, find balance, and explain natural phenomenon. And the concept certainly helps the practitioner to act appropriately in the internal martial arts like Tai Chi Chuan. When the partner advances, I retreat. When she retreats, I follow. The problem happens when we both advance or retreat at the same time. In that case, usually the strongest person wins.
What I am suggesting is that there isn’t yin and yang, only yin/yang. So we need to be careful when we assign an absolute term, like yin or yang to anything.