Moderation (2)

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Biomechanical advantage

Adjust when necessary to maintain biomechanical advantage. Rely on sensitivity, jing, balance and centre rather than force. Avoid extremes, over-stretching and excess.


In combat moderation is a vital concern. Tai chi is circular and requires the student to remain mobile, nimble, changeable and agile. Extremes of commitment leave the body vulnerable and exposed.

The attacker

The opponent is encouraged to exhaust themselves, over-commit, lose balance and centre. Since there is no emotional content to the art, the attacker is defeated without anger, aggression or animosity.
Legally... 'reasonable force' is all about moderation.


There are no stretches or deep stances, no awkward moves or challenging positions. Good body use looks compact but not 'closed'.

Cat stepping

Natural, easy, comfortable and light. Walk like a cat? Stepping is necessary and strategic. There is no striding or reaching.

Lao Tzu on moderation

Being moderate in tai chi conforms to the Taoist approach of not too much, not too little:

Softness overcomes hardness;
The formless is greater than form

In the cold of winter,
keep moving.
In the heat of summer,
be still.

Only those who know
when enough is enough
Will ever have enough.

Less is better than more.

The course of least
is closest to most.

Brittle things
are easiest to break.

The best fighters are never angry.

When force is not used,
people do not resist.
What is not resisted,
cannot be opposed.

Soft and bending are the way of the living;
Hard and brittle are the way of the dying.

The sage returns
to the natural balance.

Those who bend
endure long after the unbending have

Those who stand on tiptoe
cannot maintain their balance.

If one is striding, he becomes tired.

Because the sage does not struggle
with the world,
The world does not resist.

The sage rarely uses force.
Because high winds and heavy rains
last only a short while.

Those who use force
soon exhaust themselves.
And what can be accomplished
with exhaustion and struggle?

Favour is given to the left hand
of gentleness
Rather than the right hand
of force.

Knowing when to stop
is the best way of avoiding trouble.


Avoiding extremes can keep you from:

  1. Arguing with people

  2. Overspending

  3. Eating too much

  4. Eating a bad diet

  5. Drinking too much

  6. Being late

  7. Being lazy

  8. Having health issues

  9. Losing your temper

  10. Making poor choices

  11. Spending too much time doing unproductive activities

  12. Forgetting to rest

  13. Getting stressed

  14. Headaches

  15. Loss of manual dexterity in the fingers

  16. Stiff neck

  17. Low energy

  18. Reduced sex drive

  19. Diminished brain activity

  20. Poor focus/concentration

  21. Sarcopenia (muscle loss with aging)

  22. Reduced joint function

  23. Unbalanced/unsteady

  24. Bad circulation

  25. Heart problems

  26. Respiratory problems

  27. Imbalanced body use

  28. Restlessness

  29. Poor sleep

  30. Limited flexibility/suppleness

  31. Bad poise and posture

  32. Slouching

  33. Lack of ambidexterity   

Tai chi is all about finding balance between action & inaction, activity & rest, doing & not doing, mobility & stability, work & play, self & other.

Page created 27 June 1998
Last updated 16 June 2023