Monday Morning Tai Chi Training Tip # 261
As all Tai Chi players know, our art is based on yin and yang. Seems simple. Yin has certain qualities like inner, condensed, low, dark, yielding, night, feminine, etc. Yang is described as opposite of these – outer, expanded, high, light, creative, day, masculine, etc. Seems simple enough.
But think deeper on this. The number 2 is twice as many as the number 1, so 2 would be yang – in relation to 1 – which is yin in relation to 2. Yet 2 is half as much as 4, so 2 would be yin and 4 yang. In Tai Chi philosophy, there are no absolutes. Yin and Yang are relative terms. I look out my window. The sun is starting to set. It is light (yang) but less light than at 12 noon, and more light than 12 midnight.
The point I am trying to make is that one can not speak of good or bad, up or down, fast or slow, hard or soft, etc. as they are relative. One of the informative aspects of Tai Chi practice is slowing the mind enough to experience the gradual changes from yin to yang and back again. To experience the fullest possible as well as the most empty. But again, my fullest might not be as full as yours.
Tai Chi practice and philosophy helps us to be more accepting of others, to take the time to understand where they are now, where they came from, and where they are headed. Just like feeling the body/mind move from sit stance to bow stance at different speeds can be trained by starting slowly and gradually increasing speed and intensity and then back to slow again. Experiment . Don’t fall asleep by always doing your form practice the same way. Try fast/slow. Concentrated/expanded. High level/low. Long stance/short stance. Right side/left side. By yourself/in a group. In an open space/ in a cramped place.
Experience what works for you. Try it again some other time and see if it still works best. Don’t take anyone’s statements as gospel. Only you are able to feel the inside of your body/mind and determine where you are now, what direction are you headed, and if you are happy with how your life is playing out. Listen to the experts, and be open to the fact you are unique with special skills and talents.
Gaining Respect
Full contact fighting contests are quite popular right now. There are many lessons to be learned from these contests. The most important for me is that nice guys do finish first, and what counts is how you play the game, not whether you win or lose.
If someone can best his opponent without hurting him, he gains respect from all. It takes real skill to win one of those matches without destroying the other person, and very often it is not the big guy who wins. Technique is extremely important.
If we can take a lesson from these contests and relate to our interpersonal relationships, we will have come a long way. We don’t have to put other people down to move ahead. We don’t have to hurt our loved ones when we disagree.
Martial arts training is not about fighting for most of us. It is about learning, practicing, and using the martial philosophy in our everyday lives to keep ourselves healthy and happy, aiding those around us to recognize their skills and abilities, and increasing our own enjoyment of life.