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When someone strikes you, manipulates your arm or drops you to the floor, how do you feel?
Students are often inclined to pretend that they are OK when in fact they are offended or upset.
This is foolish.
Asking for more?
The student has confused composure with stoicism or machismo.
This is not a good mistake to be making.
Lying will backfire.
e.g. if you are struck and it hurts but you pretend it doesn't, what will your practice partner do?
Probably hit you harder in the belief that their strike was ineffectual...
Martial arts necessitate getting roughed-up in some way.
This is unavoidable.
Being emotionally honest is essential.
If you are unhappy or upset, recognise this.
Getting over yourself
Now you are faced with a challenge: how to be roughed-up without becoming upset and without pretending.
This is what composure is about.
The problem/obstacle lies with the ego.
How you respond to adversity says something about your character.
Some people engage.
Some are stimulated.
Some are annoyed.
Some can't be bothered.
Some compete... But against who? Against what? Is there something at stake?
Zen requires us to be honest with ourselves.
To observe our emotions without indulging them or being critical.
If you are offended or upset, acknowledge this.
One good way to cope with things we don't like is to cultivate a sense of humour.
Another method is to gain some perspective.
There is much in life we cannot change.
Many things are far beyond our control: the weather, how other people react to things, whether or not you get laid off work, the economy, politics....
The list is endless.
Martial arts classes contain many tests designed to gauge your character.
They were designed to cut through the illusions and reveal the truth.
These tests are not manipulative or cruel. They exist only to cultivate self-awareness.
Many tests are psychological and emotional in nature.
They bring you face to face with your opinions, your self-image, your conceit, your vanity.
A weak mind is useless in combat.
When someone attacks you, it is necessary to remain emotionally undisturbed.
Not to care beyond the desire to avoid being hurt or arrested.
Lying will not help.
You may pretend to be fine, but the truth will manifest itself in how you respond.
If your ego and pride stand in the way, this is a problem. It will lead quickly to defeat.
created 18 January 1996
Last updated 11 April 2019