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The traditional approach to taijiquan asks that students simply get on with the training, regardless of whether the exercise makes sense or not.
Understanding is not always immediate. Usually it takes time for the pieces to fall into place. Context requires hindsight.
This means just doing - in contrast with thinking, interpreting, comparing, assessing - then doing. Thought is the product of memory and those memories are seldom applicable to taijiquan.
The immediacy of the moment robs thought of its value.
In order to function beyond the
use of ordinary strength, you must study what seems inconvenient and then work
to make it efficient.
The taijiquan martial training includes a variety of exercises that challenge your ability to think clearly and act appropriately. Your mind is just too slow.
It is only when you stop trying to control the situation - and just respond to the physical stimuli in the required manner - that the exercises begin to work.
We are training your nervous system to act in a very specific way.
When your mind is disoriented and confused, it eventually gives-up and this is when you start to understand our approach to taijiquan. A thinker dithers, doubts and hesitates.
Their very thoughts separate them from reality; from the truth of what is happening. In combat this is useless. In life, this is useless.
At some point in the training, trying ceases and you just be. Your taijiquan stops looking contrived and exaggerated; it almost looks like normal, everyday movement.
The division between taijiquan training and daily activity fades.
Eventually, the system feels natural and easy to use; the taijiquan becomes your own. Life changes. You find it easier to get along with people. Conflict no longer resides in your heart and mind.
Your motivation is high and depression never occurs; you live each day fully. Unwanted chores no longer upset you - you just get on with them - or you leave them be.
Trying is sentimental. Instead of doing, you attempt to make your actions fit an idea of how you think it should be. The idea is not the real.
The young are impatient and expect instant results. The old are lazy and just want to talk. A tai chi student must transcend their own shortcomings.
Taijiquan is an attitude, a state of mind. It requires tenacity. A student of taijiquan seeks hard work. They want to work, grow and endure. They are not weak. They are not seeking an easy ride.
They would sooner walk.
Only by setting aside the familiar and embracing the unknown can real change occur. When you make it a habit to seek out inconvenient challenges, you are finally on the path.
But also be taught by each
The blind, with eyes dark but minds bright, are guided at first by obstructions.
5 June 1996
Last updated 19 August 2021