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Every martial artist seeks to defeat their opponent in combat. But at what price? Blocking, struggling, forcing, striking a balanced opponent... these are also harmful to your own body.
In defeating your opponent you may also harm yourself.
If defending your own body results in injury to your body, is this success? Have you not failed in your intention? Bruises, sprains, stiffness, soreness, cuts and damage are all bad for you.
Many martial artists lose their temper in combat. They fuel their responses with aggression and adrenaline. This may prove effective, but it puts the body and brain under duress.
Anger actually makes the mind stupid. This is a medical fact. It narrows the vision, limits coherent thought and causes the body to tense-up. The internal arts favour emotional composure.
Anger is regarded as being an impediment, not a tool.
At what cost?
Success at any cost is not advocated by our class. The aim of self defence is to avoid injury, not sustain it.
The internal martial art of taijiquan aim to incapacitate the opponent without sustaining any injury to yourself.
An integrated body moves as one unit. There is no disconnection. You would never use an isolated body part to strike or lever an attacker. You would never force an outcome.
When striking, there is no adverse feedback. In combat, there is no tension. No strain. Particular attention is placed upon moving in a natural, safe, comfortable manner.
The joints are allowed to move freely.
Effort to reward ratio
Defeating the attacker at your own expense is essentially a 'sacrifice' tactic. This is not how the internal arts operate. Commitment is limited. Over-commitment is a major fault.
All movements are performed in a manner that ensures the greatest effect for the least amount of effort. With practice you will hardly look to be moving at all.
That is part of what makes the art 'internal'.
Yielding can mean:
Shifting the weight and turning the waist
Bowing the back and tucking in at the middle
In taijiquan, option 2 is favoured, with option 1 used as well.
Option 3 is not the preferred choice for taijiquan.
Yielding involves following the line of incoming force; not forcing or opposing or anticipating.
It entails changing in response to what is happening, moving around an obstacle, flowing and adapting to the situation.
At the heart of yielding is the principle of making space; allowing and returning.
Although yielding may sound passive to the outsider, in application it is very deceptive and unexpected; often unnoticed.
The results are startling and effective.
18 April 1995
Last updated 29 August 2019